Trouble-free IT management

So how should your IT be managed, and who should do it? Here’s some thought starters. BRENDAN LEWIS

Brendan Lewis

By Brendan Lewis

Last week I talked about not letting IT people manage your IT. Sure, leave the execution to them, but remember they don’t care about your profit, your customers, or your brand.

I also went through how to create a starting point for managing your IT and flippantly said, “then just decide where you want to go, and how to get there”.

Deciding where to go is hard though, as it’s unique for everyone. So here’s three thought starters.

1. SOE – Standard operating environments

As organisations grow, an early policy normally adopted is to roll out an SOE, or standard operating environment. An SOE is usually a specification (which changes over time) for the standard computer build (hardware and software) for different user types.

For example:

For standard users

  • Microsoft Windows XP
  • Microsoft Office XP

For engineering staff

  • Microsoft Windows XP Pro
  • Microsoft Office XP
  • Visio 2003

The point of creating standard operating environments is that you can reduce costs in lots of ways, including:

  1. Accessing bulk licensing rather than individual.
  2. Reduce the number of possible problems your IT people have to deal with (and therefore reducing support costs).
  3. Creating a knowledge base of standard solutions and therefore making your staff more effective and learning curves shallower for new staff.

2. Usage policies

As soon as people that don’t own the business start using your computers, you are going to have problems. If you haven’t thought about usage policies yet, you need a good smack around the ears.

You need to explicitly tell staff that:

  • Surfing porn at work will get you fired.
  • Sending dirty jokes out will get your fired.
  • Downloading pirate movies from a bit-torrent site will get you fired.
  • Using the business’s technology to harass people will get you fired.
  • Installing software without permission on computers will get you fired.

Note I am not perfect here. I have had a staff member install some password cracking software on a client’s (a bank!) million dollar computer system, just because he wanted to see how fast it would run and I hadn’t told him explicitly not to.

3. The four aspects of each decision

When talking about purchasing CRM systems ages ago, I mentioned the four attributes of IT decision making:

  • Commerciality.
  • Performance.
  • Security.
  • Continuity.

So as a reminder as you decide where you want to take your IT, think about:

  1. The commercial issues – who owns what and how much will the total cost of ownership be.
  2. The performance issue – how fast will the solution work when your workload doubles or triples?
  3. The security issues – what is the value of the information and how easy will it be for your competitors or disgruntled people to get at?
  4. Continuity issues – what happens when it fails, how do you reduce the risk and mitigate the impact.

You don’t need to be an IT expert to be asking these questions. In fact these are great questions to be asking your IT people. Today.


Brendan Lewis is a serial technology entrepreneur having founded : Ideas Lighting, Carradale Media, Edion, Verve IT, The Churchill Club, Flinders Pacific and L2i Technology Advisory. He has set up businesses for others in Romania, Indonesia and Vietnam. Qualified in IT and Accounting, he has also spent time running an Advertising agency and as a Cavalry Officer with the Australian Army Reserve.

To read more Brendan Lewis blogs, click here.



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