Key to Growth? Equip Your Organization with the Right IT Leadership
The structure of a startup is an interesting one – the key players often wear more than one hat. The founders (or founder if the company is a sole proprietorship) often make all key decisions, serve as sales, marketing and management experts, all while also driving IT decisions and execution.
It’s a little bit messy, but very necessary in the early stages. As the company evolves and grows, the IT department must be developed in way that ensures needs are met in the most efficient way possible.
A recent Network World series offers insight into the best way to build this department over time. In the first installation, we meet the example company, Joe’s Widget Shop as we learn the best methods for structuring IT to meet existing needs and support the drive for growth. In a world where cloud IT is the primary focus for a number of organizations, the opportunities are extensive, yet the decisions made can make or break the company’s future.
Joe’s Widget Shop is growing. While the hiring of an IT manager or even a consultant wasn’t the right move when the company was first formed, when the business moves into office space, equipment is purchased and a network is put in place, an IT expert brings more value. At this point, it makes sense for the company to hire an IT consultant.
In the process of looking for the right individual, it’s important to ensure this individual possesses the right skill set to meet the needs of the company today and into the future. When building out this strategy, it makes sense to identify the criteria for hiring internal IT professionals. When the company gets to this stage, there should already be protocols in place for driving key IT initiatives, whether they include a focus on in-house or cloud IT strategies.
As the company continues to grow, the need for leaders in IT grows. The second installation in the series takes the process to the point of hiring a CIO. This is a big step for Joe’s Widget Shop, or any other company reaching this level. The key to success for this individual is to bring him or her in at the right time as it paves the way for more efficient operations. The challenge is that most companies don’t know how to set the timing to ensure the greatest benefit.
If Joe of Joe’s Widget Shop determines that systems and IT performance are not where they should be as systems are crashing, collaboration is lacking and sales are negatively impacted, it’s too late to bring in a CIO the right way. When the CIO is in place, he or she hunts down the most compatible software-as-a-Service (SaaS) products for the company and understands the integration requirements and the needs of the business to make the right recommendations. Therefore, they need to be brought in before the system has a chance to get inefficient.
The right CIO will love technology and Joe’s Widget Shop. His or her responsibilities include recommending solutions with the best capabilities in the marketplace to ensure the Shop maintains a competitive edge. The CIO should appoint a developer early in his or her stint and have a clear understanding of the advantages associated with cloud IT versus in-house deployments, but make recommendations based on what’s best for the business overall.
You know the CIO placement is a success when your revenue per headcount is going up. That means Joe and his leadership team need to develop and implement policies from day one. The third installation in the series examines the implementation of IT policies in order to set standards and expectations for employees in terms of corporate technology and the management of corporate data. The best time to roll out formal IT policies can be specific to different industries, but can also depend upon new laws, technologies, regulations and other criteria.
When it comes down to laying down the law, you have to have written policies or you won’t have standards to reference. From that point, it’s not enough to put the standards in place; you also have to educate employees on proper processes and expectations, as well as protocols for using corporate equipment and technology. This includes demonstrating to all employees the benefit they receive from the technology and the policy to help drive adoption.
There’s a reason behind every decision made within a company, especially when it comes to technology. The key is to pay attention to the details and be sure to communicate at the right times. When you do this, you’re in a much better position to make decisions for implementation before they are needed. That proactive approach ensures success.