How are you drawing your IT management line in the sand?
By considering skills, money and liability, you can decide how much you want to manage and where experts can help.
When a business requirement arises, there are usually technical and policy requirements that accompany it. With every new requirement, as well as ongoing operations, your IT management approach enables you to mitigate IT problems that can ultimately impact core business operations.
But how do you decide how to manage new IT requirements alongside your core IT responsibilities? Ask yourself three key questions:
What types of skills do I need?
How much will it cost?
What is my liability?
Where you draw the line in the sand in terms of the skills you can cultivate, what you can afford and your liability will determine how you choose to manage your IT. Do you tap the expertise you have on your team and extend their responsibilities? Or do you trust an expert to enhance your IT management capabilities?
Skills: how much do these skills cost and how long do I need them for?
Not all technical skills are equal. Costs can vary based on the rarity of the skill. It’s also important to consider how much time and money you have to invest to keep that skill current. And what about timeframe? Is your technology initiative ongoing or something that will only last for a year or two?
Skilled technologists are a bit like alchemists. While they can’t create gold, they do turn “sand” into something that delivers value to the business. They understand how to use equipment and solutions to enable business functions to create revenue.
With the business value that is inextricably linked to technical skills, it’s vital to draw your line in the sand and determine what types of skills you want to maintain in house and what you want to entrust to an expert.
For example, for skills directly linked to your industry and associated business practices, you may want to integrate that expertise into your IT team. So if you’re a financial institution, having someone who understands technology in a PCI context delivers tangible value on an ongoing basis.
Money: what are you investing in and how are you investing?
Drawing your line in the sand in terms of money depends on the phase that your business is in. Are you growing and investing? Or are you focused on reducing the cost of running the business?
With the growth of the cloud, many businesses are having different conversations around capital expenditures versus operational costs. The cloud has opened up new possibilities and alternatives for foundational technology capabilities.
Take telephony as an example. Companies now have an alternative to buying boxes, migrating to a new system and recruiting and retaining people to manage it. Telephony-as-a-service eliminates the need for large capital investments while enabling the agility that is required for flexible work. Transitioning to an as-a-service model can change the approach to telephony spending and align with either a growth or cost containment phase.
Liability: do you want to take responsibility or have a structured accountability?
In response to several high profile security breaches, new regulations mandate personal accountability for corporate decisions being made. Business leaders can no longer divorce themselves from the consequences of their actions. More accountability demands more thoughtful and calculated approaches to managing this liability.
It’s important to realize that when drawing your line in the sand in terms of liability, you are essentially transferring liability from your IT team to an expert. So yes, you will get access to elusive skills that are hard to recruit and retain in house. But you will also have more “insurance” in the face of a business-crippling event.
For example, if your IT team manages your company’s email system, what happens if it goes down? The business can’t communicate and transact – and that liability lies with you. However, if you trust an expert to manage your email system, you have Service Level Agreements and clear definitions of responsibility in place. If an issue does arise, the documented accountability lowers your liability risk.
Options lead to balanced decisions
IT management can be difficult and complex. And it’s ok to be challenged by it. The balance you strike between what you manage yourself and what you entrust to an expert is individual to your company, your business demands and your IT organization’s structure and bench strength.
Ultimately, by drawing your IT management lines in the sand, you can get the skills you need, for a price you can afford, from a company you can trust.
Clearly drawing your lines reveals options that contribute to more balanced decision making—enabling you to more effectively maximize your individual continuum of skills, money and liability.
Explore more about managing your IT and consider your network redundancy options.