Increased leadership expectations and evolving business requirements have no doubt kept many CIOs awake at night over the last couple of years.
By Greg Gatherer, account manager at Liferay Africa
Too frequently, IT and technology professionals are excluded from key business decisions because their role is assumed to begin when the paperwork is completed. This means they are left to piece together the puzzle after the decisions are taken, resulting in increased expenditures, security concerns, and siloed solutions.
With businesses increasingly becoming digital-first, it is critical that technology leaders are included in the purchasing process.
For technology leaders, it’s important to lead the team strategically, and to avoid these common mistakes;
Don’t respond reactively to requests
While the initial impulse may be to meet everyone’s requests and put out daily fires, this puts the team and technology in the backseat, rather than being a main driver of the organisation.
Rather than allowing different business departments to dictate what technology they require at any given time, sit down with these teams and assess what they truly require. Strategic leaders should be able to collaborate in order to identify the most effective tools or approaches for resolving these issues.Ask the following questions:
- What is the business goal you’re trying to achieve with this request?
- Is there something existing in place that can be used?
- Is there a more efficient way to meet these needs?
Don’t work in a silo
While information technology and technology teams are not directly associated with other departments, they have a direct impact on the success of their activities through the applications and systems they design or buy for these teams. Technology leaders must go beyond this particular team or project to ensure the success of these solutions.
Break the silo mindset by asking:
- Are there other teams who are struggling with a similar problem?
- Are there other teams who would benefit from a similar solution?
- How does this play into the overall organisation’s success?
- What are other ways we can leverage this solution for other teams?
Don’t focus on the short-term
Immediate needs arise and should be addressed, but should be done so with thoughtfulness. Tech teams can step in to be integral to organisation-wide success by thinking beyond immediate needs, and looking toward long-term solutions that empower the entire business.
For example, instead of investing in a single point solution, strategic leaders may explore a more holistic option that can address both present and coming needs.
Don’t just think regionally
We’ve all heard the adage: “think globally, act locally”. This can be challenging, as many businesses with a corporate-local office structure struggle with offices separating in their own silo, creating different procedures and policies from location to location.
But, strategic leaders will find better ways to unify the entire business so that everyone is consistent in how to solve issues, find the right tools, and scale efficiently.
Don’t try to build everything in-house
Traditionally, IT leaders have preferred to build custom applications in-house rather than trying to deal with a third-party solution that might not meet their needs or will fail to connect with existing systems.
But, while many IT teams are more than capable of building tailored solutions, the question shouldn’t be whether or not they can — rather if they should build something new.
There are several factors to be taken into account:
- What is the cost and effort required to build and maintain a custom solution vs. purchased?
- How easily will the solution integrate with not only existing applications and systems, but also future ones?
- How much time will be needed to launch and manage a custom vs. a purchased solution?
By avoiding these costly errors, leaders can transition from reactive to strategic thinking, from narrow-minded to broad-minded thinking, and ultimately from being viewed as a supporting character to playing a crucial role in business success.