If I asked IT leaders what it was like the week the world went remote in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I would guess 90% of them would have visceral reactions to the memory of that time. Many organizations were caught without any kind of technology contingency plan – and they felt the pain of that.
That hectic period should have taught every IT organization a valuable lesson – you can never predict when an IT emergency is going to hit.
Unfortunately, not every IT (or business) leader got the memo. They made it through COVID-19 disaster and went right back to the day-to-day grind, promising (hoping?) to get updated or new recovery plans in place when things slow down.
The problem is that the next disaster could be just around the corner. My apologies if this sounds fatalistic, but that is exactly what happened nearly 18 months ago. Organizations around the world were faced with a scenario that, while no one could have anticipated, very few had any kind of contingency. What will the next disaster look like? Could it be the moment that budgets are being reviewed and IT is suddenly on the chopping block? Or your supply chain breaks down and IT has to scramble to ensure customers receive their services?
IT disasters can be like heart attacks. There’s never a good time for one. But they can often be avoided – even prevented – by developing good healthy habits along with conducting regular health checks.
Three Healthy Habits of an IT Organization
How can you protect yourself and your IT organization from these IT “heart attacks”? Much like with your personal health, it all starts with developing healthy habits and regularly conducting IT health checks. Here are three of the top healthy habits you should develop in IT.
1. Regularly Discussing and Agreeing Business Value
IT has to understand the business value of their work. One of the healthiest things any CIO can do is to regularly connect with business peers to review value. Value is one of the hardest things to define within an organization, and may shift over time. The only way to confirm IT value is to review and discuss that value with other senior managers and leaders within the organization.
2. Regularly Review IT Service Definitions
Another healthy habit is clearly defining IT services in terms of business outcomes. Defining services demystifies what IT does and connects what IT does to business outcomes and value. Additionally, well defined IT services enable the organization to take advantage of its technology capabilities for competitive advantage. Regularly reviewing IT service definitions with other senior business managers not only positions the organization for taking advantage of current IT capability, but also to help identify and plan for future technology needs.
3. Regularly Map And Review Value Streams
Finally, having up-to-date value stream maps is a great health check for an IT organization. A value stream map illustrates how materials and information flow through an organization, and helps the entire organization clearly see how value flows in the organization. Value stream maps also provide a way for IT to identify where and how technology contributes to the value stream. Mapping and reviewing these value stream maps further enhances business relationships and also ensures alignment between IT and the business it serves.
Signs your IT organization needs a health check
- Not sure if your organization needs a health check? Here are few signs that it’s time:
- Your peers question the value and usefulness of IT products and services.
- Your IT organization just can’t seem to get ‘caught up’.
- You’re challenged to provide a clear ‘line of sight’ between investments in technology and business results.
- IT is usually handed solutions, not opportunities, for solving business challenges.
- Working in IT is chaotic and unrewarding. IT seems to spend more time “fire-fighting” and less time “innovating”.
- No one asks questions about IT performance reporting.
IT Health Checks Don’t Have to Be Overwhelming
Much like eating a low-cholesterol diet and exercising more frequently, these IT health checks may initially feel like a pain that restricts your fun (or innovation, in an IT world). But the truth of the matter is if IT does these things on a regular and consistent basis, it stops feeling like a chore. You’ll have a shared understanding of business outcomes and the role that technology has in achieving those outcomes. You’ll have transparency between investments in technology and business value. And both the IT organization and the business overall end up with better outcomes, better investments, better relationships, and better businesses.
That’s why I strongly recommend scheduling regular periodic health checks for your IT organization. These healthy habits can’t be developed in a vacuum. They can – and should – be built into all your other initiatives.
At the end of the day, these “health checks” are service management activities. Service management shouldn’t be viewed as something that is done in addition to your work. Service management is how good IT organizations get work done in a manageable, reliable, and predictable way.
Need an IT Health Check?
Need help with your IT Health Check? We can help. With over 20 years of service management experience, Tedder Consulting can provide your organization with the objective assessment of the health of your IT-business relationship, and an actionable plan for instilling those healthy habits that will have a positive impact on your organization! Contact Tedder Consulting today!Share