After 25 years in the IT industry… I’ve seen some stuff.
While there is certainly nothing cookie-cutter about technology solutions, there are some tried-and-true lessons about technology management that will help get (and keep) your business on the right track.
Here’s a compilation of the top 10 lessons in running your IT right:
1. Simplify your hardware and software. The more standardized your technology environment is, the easier it will be to support. Plus, if your whole team is using the same products, they’ll be able to learn from each other and use it more effectively.
2. Don't skimp on the basics. Buying a cheap knockoff computer may seem like a good idea, but price you pay in lost productivity when it isn't working will be high. This is true of all network basics: server, firewall, backup, patching, and so on.
3. Keep things current. Don’t let your hardware or software get out of date – this opens you up to serious performance and security issues.
4. Know how 'at risk' your company is. Do you need to be HIPAA compliant? Do you handle PII? Are your clients or partners large targets for hackers? This is the foundation of any successful security strategy.
5. Review security periodically. Threats are always evolving, meaning that there are always holes to be fixed and areas to improve. Make a plan for your security initiatives and set a (separate) budget for it.
6. Backup, backup, backup! Back up your systems and your people; make sure that there is no "single point of failure" in your hardware, networking, or humans.
7. Business results are key. Make sure that every technology you implement, service you subscribe to, and upgrade you make is really delivering a business result, and is not just technology for technology’s sake. This is especially important when it comes to new technologies – bleeding-edge is a risky place to be if there is no overwhelming, game-changing gain to be made.
8. Let your technology reflect your culture. Is your environment flexible and collaborative? More structured and policy-conscious? Mirror this with your technology solutions.
9. Outsource the things that you don't need (or want) to deal with. Leave your internal talent to bring real business value and let someone else handle the rest. Or, if you can’t or don’t like to manage IT people at all, there are plenty of outsourced providers out there that can serve as your entire IT department – just make sure you get the right people in your corner.
10. Go to the cloud when it makes sense to do so. The “cloud” is just another form of outsourcing, and can often deliver powerful business value in terms of productivity and morale. Pay attention to when and how a transition might work for you.
Keep these in mind, and you may be surprised by the impact your technology can have on the success of your business.
As originally published in the American City Business Journals.