Somebody Else’s Problem
As an IT professional, it’s easy to serve clients from a strictly technological perspective while turning a blind eye to the business-related ramifications that stem from your solutions. When it comes to solving issues in IT and business, collaboration from both parties always yields the best results. Don’t ignore problems simply because they're technically somebody else’s problem — IT people should constantly be working together with department heads of organizations to provide products and services that make sense for each particular business.
For example, one of Adam’s clients came to him with a server that was far too large for the size of their operation. The old provider offered the same standard-issued, $15,000 server for this seven-person organization that he did for his larger companies. He forgot to step back and ask, “What are they using the server for, and how many people are using it?”
To that provider, finding a server that actually fit the company's needs was somebody else’s problem. Because of this, the clients were left concerned with their inefficient and overpriced system.
Adam recalled another story where a marketing agency from back in the day was using massive datasets on their laptops that would take 15+ hours to process. Many of the employees assumed this process simply needed to take forever until Adam stepped in, thought about the business holistically and said, “There has to be another way.”
He worked with a business leader and they tried out a new VM server that was state-of-the-art at the time, and cut the process down to an hour and a half. Going forward the employees could spend that remaining 13.5 hours processing more jobs, so in that case, the client decided the increase in efficiency was worth spending a bit more on tech.
This is why it’s so important as an IT professional to be an advocate for your clients, understand their everyday problems and get all the facts so you can better meet their needs. Find out where that individual operation places their priorities. If they pay more money, how much more can you do for them? Or, on the other hand, what’s the bare minimum they can spend to reach their requirements?
There are several levels to implementing a business context into your IT projects:
First, start with the basics. What can we do for the client in a technical sense?
Then comes compliance, security and other measures.
Finally, ask yourself: does this make sense for the clients’ business?
It’s been proven that as a technology professional, you can change the way companies function literally overnight if you care about them enough. On top of showing a genuine interest, it also helps to constantly evolve, learn and adapt over time in your career and not be afraid to change your mind. Additionally, it’s important to be aware of which situations require the latest and greatest technology, vs. when you should stick to something older, yet more efficient (for example, tapes and trains). Finally, just because something has been done a certain way forever, doesn’t mean it needs to stay the same. If you see something broken, fix it!
Be sure to tune into the episode to hear our #FailOfTheWeek! When Skip opened up a new field office in Texas, he deployed a standard solution for all the fields. How did this backfire? And how did he end up finding a cost effective solution for each group?
Stay tuned for next week’s episode where Skip and Adam discuss an interesting secret hoard that every IT person has "The Scrap Pile" and how it directly affects your business productivity.