When you think about your organization’s IT team, what comes to mind? Frustration? Lack of transparency? Distrust? An absence of accountability? Absolutely no sense of predictability, security, or availability? If any of those things applies to your business, you’re not alone. The truth is that many IT teams create more headaches than they resolve. They tend to be reactive instead of proactive. They operate with little budget accountability. Systems and infrastructure are rarely documented. And when someone does request insight into a technical issue, they’re often greeted with overly technical language that’s more or less intended to get them off of IT’s back. But, hey, those are just the realities of dealing with IT, right? Not exactly. In fact, if your organization is dealing with any of the 10 things listed below, it should send up red flags and sound the “Dysfunctional IT” alarm:
1) No documentation: This is the proverbial “hit by a bus” problem. If your primary IT support person or group disappeared tomorrow, could someone else step in to support your systems? Do you have access to any documentation for how to manage, monitor, or secure your systems? Too often, IT teams find job security in the rest of the company’s technical ignorance.
2) No evidence of data backup: Where and how is your data backed up? How often? Who can access it? When was the last test restore? If you can’t answer those questions, then your IT team is either failing to be transparent or, even worse, not doing its job.
3) No disaster plan: If your systems or network crashed today, could you quickly recover? How fast would your business be up and running again? Even if you don’t have IT expertise, you should be able to answer these questions.
4) Lack of compliance: Are you subject to PCI or HIPAA audits? If so, are you compliant? Your IT team might say you’re compliant, but do you have any way of validating that’s actually the case?
5) Lack of time accountability: How does your IT team spend its time? Are they proactively monitoring your network and improving security? And how available does the team make itself to you?
6) Random or haphazard IT investments: How does the IT team invest resources? Are they spending money just to spend it (i.e. on a really cool, expensive system that your business doesn’t really need)? How will those investments actually help your organization improve its security or productivity?
7) No cost predictability: Can you accurately predict what your IT costs will be from month-to-month? Are you paying per incident or per hour of work? Non-fixed fee IT contracts are bad news because they remove any incentive to keep incidents or problems to a minimum.
8) No annual budget: Do you have a structured plan for IT investment, or do you just spend money as a reaction to problems or failures? Is there any accountability or transparency around that spending?
9) No plan to evolve IT to benefit the business: Do you have any discussions with your IT team about emerging technology that can move the business forward? Can they communicate the benefits of that technology in layman’s terms?
10) Lack of security protocols and processes: Who has access to what? Who is permitted to take certain hardware offsite? Is your network open to hackers? Transparency and accountability into network security is a huge issue, but many IT teams fail to properly manage it.
Unfortunately, many executives and office managers become numb to the behaviors listed above — simply accepting them as business as usual. But here’s the reality: IT dysfunction is not normal. Your technical staff should go out of its way to proactively monitor and secure your systems, and deliver much-needed accountability, predictability, and transparency. If it’s not doing that, then they’re doing you — and your business — a big disservice. And it’s up to you to take action.