Last month I wrote that business decision making and leadership account for at least two thirds of technology strategy. “That’s great!” I can hear you thinking, “because I don’t know much about technology, but I do know about business.” It’s true! And that realization is the first step towards an effective IT strategy.
What if you’re reading this and you’re not a business leader in your company? No problem – you know how to do your job, right? Who do you think I connect with when a company engages with me as a technology consultant? I reach out to the people who know what is going on. The ones who are doing the work.
My job as a consultant is to mine that “two thirds” of knowledge that already exists in your dealership. But you can do that yourself, can’t you? If you feel like your technology isn’t working for you, then congratulations – you’re already two thirds of the way towards fixing it!
In that spirit, over the next few columns we’ll look at three things you can do in your business right now that will move you towards an optimal technology strategy: 1.) upgrade accountability for IT; 2.) put people first; and 3.) own your processes.
UPGRADE YOUR IT ACCOUNTABILITY
This is critical: If your CFO or controller is responsible for IT then it’s time to make a change and elevate IT accountability within your management team. Ideally your technology leadership should be on par with your other C-level leaders. If you don’t have anyone in your organization in that role then the next best option is to make your CEO or COO accountable for IT.
You need to move IT out of your finance department. The truth is that most finance people live in a world of rows and columns. They want your business reduced down to a collection of excellent reports, and they view technology as the means to achieve this. They also tend to put technology spending in the cost column so that driving down IT spend will increase profit margin on paper. They would be happiest if everyone on your team thought like an accountant.
That’s a limiting mindset. For starters, we know that most people do NOT think like accountants. Life is not linear. Business is relational, and relationships do not have rows and columns. Furthermore, when technology is implemented in a way that increases employee and customer engagement then your business is unleashed for growth. Tech should not be treated as a cost to be controlled, but as an investment for growth.
IT accountability should sit with the leaders who are in the thick of it, who understand your people and processes and can evaluate technology from a business perspective rather than financial. Your finance department only has a few people in it. Why are your IT decisions satisfying their specific needs when the entire rest of your company is struggling with lead generation, product specification, order management and service delivery? What’s the point of perfecting your job costing if your decision makers are flying blind without real-time metrics and visibility into what’s happening in the business right now? What would your company look like if you automated repetitive work and integrated services with your vendors? Your people and customers would be happier, and that’s a recipe for business growth – even if it means the finance team has to do a little extra work behind the scenes.
Granted, your CFO might not be accountable for IT in your organization. I’m thinking of a company I worked with recently where the HR manager was responsible. No further comment on that one. The point is that you need to elevate technology in your business. The best starting point for that is to create a role on your executive team, or move it into your CEO or COO’s accountability column.