In the past we’ve looked extensively at how to get value from your IT team, as well as why a focus on technology is so essential to any organization today. However, simply learning about and implementing a new technology does not mean your organization will realize its value or see a return on that investment. After you’ve introduced a new product or app, are you aware of how much it is used? How effective it’s been? How connected it is to your processes?
With that in mind, here are some important factors to consider when you determine the value you’re getting from your technology:
Always On and Available
The first factor in getting value from your IT is foundational: IT has to provide a platform that is highly available and performs well. Obviously, if your productivity app crashes or is down for maintenance, it’s not actually making your team more productive! Follow up on outage reports for your internal systems and ensure your team has the resources to maintain the necessary infrastructure. For third-party apps, encourage your team to report access issues and downtime.
Mitigating Business Risk
All the productivity and efficiency in the world will do you no good if the tool that enables those capabilities is also the source of a major data breach or gets you fined for an industry compliance issue (e.g., through HIPAA or PCI). It’s crucial to pay attention to the security and data protection features incorporated in your IT solutions to prevent these issues before they occur. If your IT solutions weren’t properly vetted before implementation, don’t put it off until your company is the next Target or Yahoo!
Is the technology you’ve chosen to implement actually solving the problem it was introduced for? Does the process it’s a part of truly require the use of technology, or are there simpler, more streamlined workarounds that your team is using instead, rendering the solution useless? Keep in mind that just because a workaround is more popular than an IT tool, doesn’t mean the alternate process actually is more effective; your team just perceives that it is. If this is the case, more training and better policy and procedure documentation may be needed to ensure appropriate use of the tool.
Awareness of Capabilities
Even if your team is using a piece of technology for its intended purpose, are you sure they are taking full advantage of the capabilities it provides? For example, most people who are aware of Excel know that it can provide sums of different cells. However, there are a few different ways to do this, and not everyone knows the fastest and easiest method. You can manually enter the cell numbers, highlight a range of cells, use the AutoSum function, or even use pivot tables. Utilize training and available documentation to ensure that your IT solutions are used consistently and efficiently across your organization.
Connecting Systems to Process
While innovation is important, it’s also important not to implement new tech just for the sake of having the “latest and greatest.” The IT initiatives you implement must be tied to creating new or improving existing business processes, which ultimately should connect to your overall strategic plan. You won’t receive value from a solution that exists in a vacuum; make sure your new technology directly impacts the processes that will help you achieve your business goals.
Your Company Culture
Is embracing technology and finding new and better ways to do things a part of your organizational culture? Is there an expectation to use technology efficiently, or a reward system for effective use? If seeking new and better ways to do things with technology is not the norm within your company, it’s very easy to get stuck with outdated systems and inefficient processes that don’t provide value for the company. You can get around this problem by encouraging team members to present their ideas to improve the technology and processes they use every day, as well as generating excitement around new IT initiatives before they are implemented.