Ah, the IT Department. Completely necessary—but sometimes their day-to-day duties are a bit of a mystery. As CEO, you understand you need them, but it can be hard to shake the nagging feeling at the back of your mind… You know, the question of whether or not your IT department is properly managed or entirely effective.
So why let this mystery go unsolved? If your company is to remain competitive in the marketplace, you need to ensure your IT professionals work as a cohesive, efficient unit. Allowing IT to manage IT without any oversight is a risky move.
The best way to remedy this solution is to better understand how they manage and implement your company’s IT services. Ask the right questions of your IT professional(s) at your monthly meetings and you’ll not only better understand how your IT works, but you’ll also gain insight into which problem areas may need more attention—before your day-to-day operations are negatively impacted.
1. What are we spending on technology?
IT technology is without a doubt, one of the big ticket items on any company’s budget. Questions to ask should revolve around IT compatibility, software licensing, how your technology compares to modern standards and where, if any, costs can be reduced or eliminated completely. By requiring your IT department to itemize and keep track of spending, you will gain a more solid understanding of their needs.
2. How can we optimize our technology?
Ask your IT professional to assess your entire network and submit a report on how to streamline systems and functions. Hardware, software, network storage, cloud technologies and communication are all interrelated. What upgrades are needed and what can wait? Find out if your IT department is utilizing standard IT best practices.
3. What data backup and recovery solutions are in place?
Information storage and retrieval is of vital importance. Ask your IT professional about the frequency and consistency of data backups and where and how those backups are stored. Find out what recovery solutions are established in case of a disaster situation, and ask how that plan can be improved upon.
4. What does our security look like?
In the wake of constant new security threats, you need to understand just how secure (or unsecure) your company network may be. Your IT professionals are in charge of your network defense and operation in an environment filled with security dangers. Ask for detailed reports related to your network security, including any attempts that may have been deflected by your current security system. Is your IT department proactive in their protection or emergency-response only?
5. What proactive measures have you implemented to protect our systems and data?
Speaking of proactivity, it is also important to learn just how proactive your IT professional(s) are about actively ensuring your network stability and success. How proactive are they when it comes to network stability, data storage and security? Are they actively engaging in industry best practices? Do they anticipate problems and have response plans detailed and ready to launch if and when they are needed?
6. How does our IT staff spend their time?
Asking your IT staff to be accountable for their time is no different than asking any other department. How streamlined and efficient are your IT processes? What does your IT team need to do their jobs as best they can, and what inefficiencies can be cleaned up? You don’t want to rule over them with an iron fist, but you also can’t allow them free reign either. Find the right balance—for your IT team and for the business as a whole.
7. What will a second opinion tell us?
Getting a second opinion from an outside IT consulting firm is something to seriously consider, especially if your business is a small- to medium-sized company. With a smaller budget for IT, it can be difficult to afford state-of-the-art technology and keep top-ranked IT professionals on staff. Additionally, your IT department may be concerned with job security. Getting an outside assessment will not only give you an unbiased view of your technology environment and operations, but it will also provide you with the confidence you need to make changes, if changes are required.
Don’t be afraid to call on outside IT professionals. Running a successful business requires accurate and honest assessments of all operations. Without the help of professionals who make it their business to streamline your business, your company may not remain competitive in this rapidly evolving world of technology.