Wednesday, October 26, 2011

IT skills and managing your partners

Three realities to consider when running an organization;
  1. Your organization is becoming increasingly dependent on Information Technology (IT).
  2. Good, I repeat, Good IT professionals are becoming increasingly difficult to find.
  3. Your organization should focus on what it is good at. And unless you are an IT vendor, consultancy, etc. your organization should not staff up for IT, for it would distract you from your focus.
Given these three realities this is how I see your organization manage IT.
  1. Develop technology partnerships to fulfill different sectors of your IT needs; find awesome Subject Matter Experts within these partnerships (you should not have to pay a partner to develop a subject matter expertise). The different sectors could be; infrastructure, software development, accounting systems, web development, mobile... etc. How you divide up these sectors depends on how your organization is structured (and divided), and who holds the responsibilities and accountability. You may find that one of your partners provides services to more than one of these sectors (preferably your strongest and most trusted partner).
  2. Get to know your partners strengths and weaknesses, meet with them face-to-face regularly. With increasing difficulty in finding good IT partners you may find that "good enough" is all you can get. So be prepared to manage each partners abilities differently... work with their strengths and manage their weaknesses. 
  3. Have a trusted, highly available partner that is invested in keeping everything working together and is nimble in making fixes and enhancements to your customer facing technologies. This is where you may have an employee or small IT department as you may not be able to find a partner to make this level of commitment.
  4. Seriously consider moving your customer facing infrastructure and websites (including mobile) to a hosted or cloud based environment. 
  5. Have very strong IT management skills at the executive (and board) level.