Whose problem should the resolution of complex IT issues be?

Whose problem should the resolution of complex IT issues be? The buck seems to keep being passed.

I think in any aspect of business, decisions often get put off, and issues are never resolved if a solution is unknown or poorly presented to management. IT is no different, and often management fails to make a decision because the solution available just doesn’t feel right.

In my experience, more often than not a non-technical management team will avoid making decisions until confronted with a disaster – think: a security breach, loss of data, or an inability to deliver or communicate because the technical people they are dealing with have simply failed to convey the need to resolve the issue before the symptoms present.

By this, I don’t mean that technical people say nothing. It’s just that what they say is very technical, and possibly lacks clarity due to their own confusion, or lack of conviction on the topic. As a result, the message is not well received.

Recently, I saw a business with turnover exceeding $100 million fail to implement a backup system, because the technician they employed was unable to communicate the importance of the project, and could not explain the technology to a point where it became apparent that a system was required. Their systems continued to be functional and so the need just never came up as being mission-critical, and worthy of expenditure.

This problem comes back to the business plan, and aligning IT to that plan. If there is no one on the business leadership team who has an understanding of IT, it may be worth finding a board-level advisor who can bring the knowledge required into the business to ensure the right plans are made, the right budgets assigned and the right projects initiated.

If your IT staff or contractors are all tactical people or inexperienced in IT management concepts, then it is clearly not appropriate to expect them to resolve complex issues and make business-leading decisions where large amounts of money are concerned. Some more complex problems may require a component of project management to be delivered with any success. This is because tactical IT people often lack any ability to plan or deliver to a plan.

So, how can you ensure that the buck stops on resolving complex problems? Follow these 10 steps:

1. Ensure the problem has both a management level sponsor and a tactical team member associated with the resolution.
2. Make sure the resolution of the problem is aligned to the business plan.
3. If your internal staff lack clarity or conviction on the solution, seek external advice.
4. Ensure the proposed solution is sensible before you waste a lot of money on the wrong solution.
5. Draft a resolution plan.
6. Consider calling for fixed-price quotes based on delivering defined outcomes
7. Ensure sufficient funds are budgeted.
8. Activate the plan.
9. Manage the project.
10. Measure the outcomes.

Until you take the resolution of issues seriously, it is likely that you will:

  • Underestimate the importance of solving the problem;
  • Underestimate the activity required;
  • Under invest and get poor results (which may be used as an ongoing excuse for not investing in the first place); and
  • Fail to achieve the outcomes that allow your business to grow.

Click here to read more IT Systems expert advice.

David Markus is the founder of Combo – the IT services company that ensures IT is never an impediment to growth.

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