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A tale of two companies

Company “A” through mergers and acquisitions, has had exponential growth in the past few years.

For the first part of their growth they had some Information Technology guys who decided that one type of network architecture was the only way to handle things. Those guys have moved on so Company “A” found new IT guys who naturally decided that another type of network architecture was the only way to handle things.

Now they have a new set of IT guys who aren’t quite sure what to do. What is wrong with these new guys you ask? Well one reason is that they have inherited a situation where there are dozens of servers and hundreds of workstations, some of which can’t easily talk to each other. Add to that the fact that the folks who control the purse strings are “just plain sick and tired of having to spend more money on IT.”

Company “B” while not going through the same explosive growth as Company “A” has outgrown the capabilities of their IT guy .

Over the course of the next eight months Company “B” goes through six IT Companies. They are now looking for their seventh.

Wondering how two apparently successful companies ended up in these situations? That my friends is exactly where this tale has been heading.

A coherent IT strategy, one that is strictly aligned with your business strategy and clearly defined expectations would have gone a long way toward preventing both situations.

A coherent IT strategy does many things for you. Some of the more important ones are:

  1. It forces you to actually plan,
  2. It gives you something to benchmark where you are in your plan, and;
  3. It gives you the ability to assess new technologies based on the company’s needs, not the whims of the IT guys.

Clearly defined expectations should be self-explanatory. If you aren’t sure what you expect, then no matter how talented your IT guys are, they are probably going to get it wrong.

For Company “A” having an IT strategy would have allowed them to include their increasing technology needs as part of their business strategy sessions. This in turn would have ensured that their IT guys were doing the things that were most beneficial to the business, not their own personal preferences. Management would have known what to expect from their IT guys and the IT guys would have known what was expected of them. Lastly when new technologies emerged they would have had something to measure it against. If it is something that gets them closer to their goals, great. If not pass on it.

Company “B” never clearly defined its expectations; it decided that continuing to be reactive would give it the results it wanted. Once again having an IT strategy would have allowed it to include its technology needs as part of its business strategy. That would also have allowed it to better gauge what it needed from its IT Company.

As for defining expectations, the obvious ones would be what is the normal response time? What is the emergency response time? What really constitutes an emergency? Will there be scheduled routine maintenance?

So in closing the moral of this story is, the business objectives drive the business strategy. The business strategy drives the IT objectives, which in turn drive the IT strategy.

In other words, Ready, Aim, Fire works much better than Ready, Fire, Aim — if you intend on hitting the target.

Brian George's picture
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Member Since: 3-31-2009
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