IT Optimization vs IT-run-amok

By | 2013/10/23

Over the past few years, I’ve been hired into IT positions that were vacant for a period of time (no CIO/ VP-IT/Director of IT). This means I was not aware of existing project plans or future goals. In this situation I’m starting from scratch, which means assessing the current environment to determine future plans.

The temptation in this type of role is to immediately identify high-visibility IT projects and push them forward.  As the new IT expert, your chance of approval may be higher if you push projects early. In some cases, new technology may be appropriate.

run amok

However, assuming new tech is needed without fully assessing the existing environment often leads to IT-run-amok. I’m convinced this is a common problem for small to medium sized businesses (SMBs). IT-run-amok happens when new tech is added, without considering the implications of retiring the old tech. Left unchecked, IT-run-amok results in IT departments that are larger and more costly than necessary, due to the myriad systems and applications that must be supported. The problem may not present itself until many years later – perhaps long after the person responsible has left the company.

A better approach (in my humble opinion) is to assess and inventory the current technology, identify technology that will increase in cost and/or decrease in value over time, and define a strategic plan to retire the old, while enhancing the overall value to the business.

The process reminds me of an interior designer who inventories all existing furniture and decorations, then figures out how to best use the existing inventory, while adding key pieces that enhance the overall design.

Assessing an IT environment for optimization works the same way. First, we inventory what we already have to work with. This often includes legacy systems, recently implemented (but only partially completed) projects, and probably also shelfware. It is surprisingly common for IT managers to push for IT purchases, only to under-utilize the solution (or never implement).  Identifying these lost projects can offer opportunity for quick wins with minimal investment.

After identifying what we already own, we need a solid understanding of business needs and where IT can add value. Talking with department heads and front-line employees will often yield insight here.

Finally, we identify areas where we can add key tech (or just connect existing tech) that provides cost reduction and/or business value for minimal effort.

It’s that easy.

2 thoughts on “IT Optimization vs IT-run-amok

  1. Schaef350

    I always enjoy seeing your RSS feeds when they come across!

    I think that is an excellent assessment. I am not management per say but I do make most of the calls on the network side of the house at my current employer. I found that responsibilities that have had heavy turnover are great targets for saving money and cleaning things up without needing funding. For instance, there was some extra turnover prior to me starting. A few weeks after starting I was able to find Cisco Smart net contracts on things we no longer had in operation, removed extra configuration, and addresses partially completed projects. Additionally, enabling an executive report in the network monitoring software that delivered to the interested C levels via email was also a big hit.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. lhomsher Post author

      Hey Adam – thanks for the comments! Sounds like things are going well in your world, and you’re focusing in on some good clean-up tasks. Also, good move to enable reporting for the executives. The average network does a ton of work that can be a good source of info if it’s reported properly. I really appreciate your feedback.


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