3 strategic IT questions

Organizations often find there is no well-defined IT strategy, and the IT infrastructure has evolved aimlessly as a result.
Three question blocks

I was recently asked to speak before a group of non-profit organizations about IT matters. These were CEOs and executive directors of agencies aligned with The United Way of Central Oklahoma. They were kind enough to provide a list of topics of interest, including the following.

  • Remote working best practices
  • How to host a successful Zoom meeting
  • Securing your WiFi networks

But there was also the question of how to do an IT assessment

My immediate thought was, “You need to ask ‘why do an IT assessment?'”

An obvious answer might have been there are operational problems in the IT system that aren’t getting resolved. You know, the typical ones – email not working correctly, can’t find a printer on the network, can’t find the Z drive, and so on. But if I were the leader of an organization whose mission was to help others, my reasons for doing an IT assessment would likely be more strategic.

  • Why does my organization exist?
  • What do our clients expect of us?
  • How is my IT helping (or not)?

When a client asks my team to assess an IT system, we ask the client to answer those questions before starting. That way, we can find the gaps between what is needed and what actually exists. More often than not, we find there is no well-defined IT strategy, and the IT infrastructure has evolved aimlessly as a result. There is no clear goal, no “roadmap.”  

Abraham Maslow postulated that human behavior is motivated based on unsatisfied needs; if we want to advance to a level of feeling secure, for example, we’ll need first to satisfy our basic needs of food and water. Organizations operate similarly; trying to help others find appropriate shelter, for example, won’t be achievable if you yourself don’t have an appropriate place to work. Or, an IT system that is not designed to support our primary mission will not likely result in a high level of organizational excellence in satisfying the unmet needs of others. 

Sometimes, our assessment results lead to additional investments in hardware and software on the part of the client. Surprisingly, in many more cases, we find that the system can be simplified, and some of the hardware can be eliminated or re-purposed. This reduces future capital investments, maintenance costs, and best of all improves productivity and security. In any system, too many parts will lead to too many problems. The goal of an IT assessment should be to determine if your system is “lean and mean” and focused on your organization’s goals the needs of your clients.  

In planning for “life after COVID-19”, you might want to consider getting a thorough assessment of your IT systems, but before you do, ask yourself Why, What, and How.

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About Davis Merrey

Davis, is Owner/CEO of TeamLogic IT of Oklahoma City, part of an international network of franchisees providing IT support for businesses. He brings many years of experience in a variety of technology related industries, leading teams in providing technical solutions that respond to critical customer needs. The company culture is defined by its Mission Statement: “To help our fellow employees and clients be successful”.

Davis earned a BS in Electrical Engineering from the Virginia Military Institute and an MBA in Management from Golden Gate University in San Francisco. He serves on several business related and non-profit boards of directors.