The Biggest IT Challenge

By Henry Bagdasarian

The biggest challenge for any Information Technology (IT) organization is to motivate the team members whether at management or staff level to see the big picture for their businesses. One of the risks of not seeing the big business picture is that certain business goals which can be achieved more effectively if various groups work together harmoniously are not achieved effectively. For example, some client requests may not be fulfilled as quickly as possible because the requests are not directly related to the core IT function and considered a high priority. 

Often, IT team members are laser focused on their daily tasks of deploying and maintaining systems or developing and improving applications while troubleshooting occasional system incidents which are sometimes reported by clients and others. Although many other groups may also be solely focused on their specific tasks and not see the overall business goals, IT groups are often on the hook for many other client requests related to security, audits, and compliance of the systems and therefore must be more flexible. For example, most of the clients that Marketing groups interact with are internal unless there is a joint project with external clients to promote a product.

A major reason for failing to see the big picture is that often the bonus structure is tied to the specific projects and requirements of the jobs. And this is where most companies lose track of how well their employees see the big picture and serve all their customer needs whether client IT requests are made directly through the IT department or not.

Other than a direct correlation between a bonus and internal customer service quality, there are compelling reasons why IT groups should see beyond their assigned job functions. For example, their companies which may collect personal information from their B2B clients, are heavily scrutinized by their clients regarding security mechanisms specially those companies which are monitored by regulatory bodies for compliance. In general, IT groups in technology centric companies which offer technology products and services to their customers often deal with more client requests than IT groups in other industries such as in the beauty and fashion industry because IT has a supporting role rather than a leading role in the latter industry.

A while back, I wrote about  the risk of neglecting internal customers and the necessity and importance of serving internal customers as well as the external customers because often the internal customers are also serving the external customers and neglecting internal customers usually leads to external customer neglect. Therefore, I suggested that any performance bonus should also be tied to how well internal customers are served.

In summary, we're all joined by the hip when it comes to growing our companies and serving our customers well along the way. Ultimately folks who don't see the big picture and fail to support the needs of their company team members who also serve the external clients will gradually and negatively impact their organizations in terms of growth and customer satisfaction.

Developing, improving and troubleshooting systems is necessary for keeping happy customers but there has to be a balance between keeping existing customers and acquiring new ones especially in IT centric companies. In addition, various client groups interact with various teams within the service provider organization and therefore, when business units fail o communicate or cooperate with each other because they think that their tasks and client requests are more important, they neglect other business unit requests and ultimately neglect the clients as a whole.

IT has an important role within any organization especially in technology companies where the core business and products are technology related, however, a narrow focus on IT products and services fails to recognize and achieve the overall business objectives or meet customer needs in all areas of the business whether the requests are made directly through the IT department or other groups.

Ultimately, the biggest IT challenge is to take ownership of all system related risks which can negatively impact the business in order to help retain current customers and grow the business. Just like like incidents and system errors which need to be fixed regardless of who reported the issues, system related risks and requests must also be addressed by system owners regardless of who reported the risk or how it was communicated.

Read other personal articles by Henry Bagdasarian.

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