IT departments today are so inundated with projects that they often can barely keep their head above water. They are already tasked with the maintenance of the IT infrastructure and the ongoing management and delivery of IT services, but are commonly requested to provide additional services that are not aligned with the IT core mission. It is time we take a closer look at the role of IT and assess which responsibilities should in fact belong to IT and what should instead lie in the domain of the business.
In many organizations, IT is responsible for managing business decisions while delivering technology. In other words, IT is often tasked with who should receive what technology when. However, IT was designed to support the business, not make decisions for the business. How did this paradox arise?
IT is responsible for the technology within the organization, while in theory the business is the owner of the information that is delivered and managed by that technology. The business could have more control over the delivery of this information, but they are often limited by the complex technology that exists in many organizations today. This presents IT with the opportunity to eliminate the complexity, granting the business more simplified access to business applications and data they need to be productive. IT departments can look at small ways to initially begin this transformation.
Resourceful Human Resources
Human resources departments present an example of how ownership of business decisions can shift back to the business, with the help of IT. Traditionally when someone is hired, the IT department creates new users at the request of HR, and in the process, determines which software those users should have access to and with what rights, based on high-level criteria like their roles and department. Even when someone leaves the organization or their role changes, the IT department is often tasked with ensuring the account is closed and the former employee is denied access to company resources. However, IT is not the holder of employee information. That accountability belongs to HR and individual business managers.
HR could save time using automated technology managed by the IT department. HR can manage the users, automatically adjusting their subscription to IT services as their roles evolved by simply connecting their HR systems to an IT platform that can predict and delivery technology needs based on this information. They can also hand off this responsibility to the business managers. In this scenario, IT is focused on the technology, leaving the business rules and decisions in the hands of those who should own it…the human resources department and business managers.
Business Critical Applications
A second example of a place where the business could reduce the burden on IT is within individual business departments. Let’s look at the example of common cloud service, Salesforce.com. This tool is often used by sales, marketing and operations organizations to manage critical customer information. In most organizations, these accounts are often created manually, based on requests from department heads. The employee must often wait to have a license activated and account created. However, this whole process could be automated either through triggers in the HR system during the onboarding process, or by allowing department heads to self-service the automatic provisioning of these critical cloud services on behalf of the employee. When you link account creation of cloud services like this to the qualifications within HR systems, access can be automatically delivered to new employees or revoked when an employee leaves the company or their role changes. While IT is responsible for the underpinning technology to make this possible, the business is ultimately responsible for authorizing access and return.
Stop the Complexity
On a daily basis, IT is confronted by users who are demanding solutions that are more like what they experience at home: simple & intuitive. In order to enable the business through improved IT service delivery, IT must reduce the complexity of how technology is delivered through automation and integration that is seamless to employees. This gives IT the ability to offer a more consumer-like experience.
This would also call for an evolutionary IT mindset with the focus of supporting and facilitating the business proactively, rather than focusing on reactive efforts. Through integration of systems, automation and simplicity, IT can finally put the business back behind the wheel driving the organization with IT fueling the organization through technology.