There are a number of paradoxes in life that we must inevitably face, and as a business owner that paradox often comes when trying to grow a company. Although leaders and senior managers have achieved growth, set up the organisation and worked hard for their success, they reach a point in which they suddenly find themselves hindering growth and creating a bottleneck. Ali Hasan, CEO and Founder of ThoughtPut Inc, argues that these bottlenecks must be ‘anticipated before you accelerate’ and owners need to use their existing team members, equipment and cash position to maintain momentum. In short, look at what you’re doing and understand where the bottlenecks are going to happen, and then get rid of them before they impact you too severely.
A part of this is understanding where you need to be, and leaders don’t often choose to dive into the IT of a business. With little subject specific knowledge, it’s easy to see the benefits of outsourcing IT services, passing it over to the experts, or an IT professional you trust, assured that they’ll deal with the technical jargon. The truth is leaders or senior managers don’t, for the most part, have meaningful IT reporting and without an understanding of IT, they’re unable to make informed decisions about IT and how it can reduce risk, increase compliance and generate productivity. On the other hand, IT don’t always have an understanding of the business needs and herein lies the paradox. Both groups would benefit from being more involved with one another, but they don’t always have the language or understanding to bridge the divide and so a bottleneck in business occurs.
The result of this bottleneck means IT spends a lot of time being reactive and struggles to break into the strategic, high value areas of the business. The technology isn’t being leveraged appropriately because you’re essentially fighting fires on a ground level and strategic elements are always pushed for another day.
The uncomfortable truth is that when leaders and senior management aren’t getting involved with IT and setting the standards, someone else is. Which means the risk of those standards eroding becomes greater over time. It can also cause a shift in priorities when IT and management are not aligned, causing IT to focus on things that might be less important. For example, IT can get distracted with new features and tech while you’re looking for productivity, collaboration and satisfied customers. The role of leaders is to orchestrate your employees’ attention and what they spend their days working on, and not being involved in IT limits your ability to do so. On a practical level, security can be compromised when it doesn’t have its own budget line (read more about budget as a bottleneck here), or there is an assumption that someone else is looking after your firm’s legal and ethical responsibilities. Finding out this is not the case can come as a nasty surprise with bigger consequences than necessary.
It’s clear there needs to be involvement from senior leaders when it comes to IT but the question remains: how does that logistically happen? The reality is that business owners are not going to drastically upskill themselves in IT, and they don’t need to either. Outsourced IT support shouldn’t make your life harder, but easier. What owners do need is a framework that enables them to ask the right questions to make well informed and strategic decisions without being inundated with tech talk. It also needs to be quick as the demands on their time are numerous. Our tried and tested process was built with this in mind and, as such, requires twelve hours per year of a senior manager’s time, and twenty-four hours per year of their deputy’s time. These are the advantages senior management gain:
- Understanding the current state of your IT. Think SWOT analysis.
- Understanding where your business wants to be.
- Prioritising changes to the IT to ensure it’s supporting your firm to fulfil its potential.
- Regular board level reviews that are aligned to your financial year and operational rhythm to check progress and return on investment.
While business owners can be a bottleneck by avoiding IT outsourcing and delegating decision making, they don’t need to be at the heart of the IT either. They just need to ensure they have the right guide and process in place.
For more information: Download our guide on How To Fix IT Bottlenecks that could be restricting your growth