The journey to becoming a more strategic IT department is accomplished in part by making sure you never lose touch with your organization’s strengths, and holding onto a service-oriented mentality. Thinking strategically can lead to your greatest success, but there are several things to keep in mind as you begin this type of thinking and business planning.
In taking such an approach and attempting to build a culture of success for your IT and service desk teams can help you to establish a department that may begin to see itself as shareholders in the success of the organization rather than individuals who simply “do the work.”
If you don’t mind then, I’d like to take a moment to outline a few ways that you and your IT department can now begin the efforts of becoming a more strategic, perhaps efficient, organization.
Don’t be afraid of surprising solutions
To start, open your mind and allow yourself to be surprised. Try to let go of past experiences, and the history of the organization. Typically IT team mindset is sometimes reactive, but you can break that mold. Since your IT teams are responding to the latest emergency so upper management might think that these are the only types of tasks that are readily addressed. Your organizational leadership teams might attempt to keep you in this role not aware of how IT can contribute alternative viewpoints to the core of the business. For one example, when commuters began getting frustrated with the late running of trains because they were missing out on work. So, rather than seeking pure engineering solutions related to how to improve scheduling times, the transport companies installed free Wi-Fi in the passenger cars so being late to the office became less of an inconvenience and attitudes improved.
Increase your visibility
By providing such an example of how IT can be used to improve operations, you also can increase your visibility throughout the organization. This is contrary to what often happens for IT departments. Usually the opposite is true. For service-minded departments, if you are doing your job right, you become less visible. Collaborating and providing value so it’s about finding a way to collaborate while adding value to the business. This could be with end users, but also with the management team or director.
Consider what you need to know
Are you asking the right questions? How do you know that you’re getting to the heart of the matter? How do you determine what you need to know and how do you get to the heart of your situation? One hospital once had 10 different qualifying questions that didn’t get to the root of the issue that must be addressed. Hospital leadership solved this by asking just two questions instead: is this patient related, and is this preventing someone from doing their job? If you feel like your questions aren’t getting to the heart of the matter, don’t be afraid to try a completely different approach.
A Part of, Not Apart From
Developing strong connections with other departments can help make your team more aware of the business activities as a whole. You can enhance this by appointing a representative for each core process. Perhaps you might also arrange for someone on your IT team do a study with one of the other departments. In so doing, you’ll get to know your end users better, understand what problems others are facing and gain a broader perspective of the organization as a whole.
Your department’s activities might not be the primary strategic processes of your organization, but you still play an important role in these processes. The organization needs your support to achieve its overarching goals. The first step on the journey to becoming more strategic is making sure you never lose touch with this idea. That way, the IT team can better see themselves as shareholders in the success of the company.