Friday, September 25, 2009

Managing Expectations: A few things staff should expect from their IT PARTNER - thoughts by John Merritt

IT should be viewed as a business partner, not a service provider. Here are a few things that staff should expect from their IT partner.

Strong Communications Skills – I think the best technology partner is a business person that utilizes technology in a mission / cost oriented manner to solve problems and can bridge the tech / communications gap, at all levels of the org, from CEO, to front-line staff.

Cultivator of IT / Business champions – IT, alone, is never a solution. It’s not about the technology, it’s about how staff can leverage technology for efficiency and mission effectiveness. An adept technology partner leverages staff to champion technology causes in support of mission.

Budget Focused – an effective IT partner works with business units, upfront, to plan for & align technology to meet needs and mission – the IT partner is sympathetic to the cost of technology / poorly implemented technology and they work to educate staff.

Strategic Planner / Partner – the IT partner understands the difference between the tactical & strategic, is actively involved with business units in the long-term planning process. The ability to ‘implement’ is a key expectation too.

State of the Self – each and every day the tech world reveals new ‘shiny objects’ – the aligned IT partner cuts through the crap, evaluates technologies and brings sustainable solutions based on reliable (state of the shelf) technology

Problem Solver / Troubleshooter – technology breaks; good IT partners should bring cost-conscious, quick solutions and speedy response when things go south

Keeps finger on the pulse of the tech industry – The tech world changes in the blink of an eye, are you ready? – a good IT partner should take several hours a week to 1) contemplate their naval – which means just that, take time to think and problem solve (the thinking process and how IT staff process information is both highly valuable and greatly misunderstood) ensuring the org is on-track for the future by actively seeking new technologies and comparing them to business process and mission. 2) read, read, read - tech industry reports, blogs, journals - the only way to stay on top is to stay educated. If you don't have a reading list, make one - here's a few good books to get you started: "The New CIO Leader: Setting the Agenda and Delivering Results" by Marianne Broadbent & Ellen S. Kitzis "Keep the Joint Running: A Manifesto for 21st Century Information Technology" by Bob Lewis - "IT Doesn't Matter, Business Processes Do" A Critical Analysis of Nicholas Carr's I.T. Article in the Harvard Business Review - by Howard Smith & Peter Fingar "Groundswell" by Charlene Li & John Bernoff "Managing Technology to Meet Your Mission: A Strategic Guide FOR NONPROFIT LEADERS" various authors from thr NPTech community, edited by Holly Ross, Katrin Verclas & Alison Levine