As we approach the end of Q1, I reflect back on what has been a manic start to 2019. Despite the dreaded B word, without doubt, 2019 has kicked off positively. One of the best parts of my job is that I get to meet with some really interesting organisations and leaders who are all trying to do the same thing – change the way their business currently operates.
However, what concerns me is the number of leaders I speak with that still think that technology is responsible for delivering change. I’ve been working in the technology sector for 20 years now and as a technologist, I need to make one thing very clear – “there is absolutely no such thing as an IT project”.
I appreciate most will look at me in amazement here, and some (namely techies) will completely disagree, but it’s true. There should never be an IT project.
So, let me put this into context. Yes, a technology department will undertake and perform certain tasks that form “a project” but unless the project is adding business value, it shouldn’t be happening. Regardless of whether this is a network upgrade, infrastructure replacement or my personal favourite, a core system such as a CRM replacement, none of these are IT projects.
“Each project that is executed by the IT team has to be aligned to delivering business value and that must be understood by everybody involved.”
Some will argue that nobody in the organisation cares about a network upgrade or cloud migration. But that’s not the point. The point is that we have to start changing our perspective on “IT projects”. We cannot continue to allow projects to run at a technical capacity without really understanding the value it delivers back to the business.
And here lies the challenge I see across all industries and across organisations of every type – leadership.
For me this is a large concern. When we operate our business in an environment now where we have to be innovating and we must look at how we drive competitive advantage then we need to ensure we have the right leadership to enable this.
For me, this is a concern. Innovation demands that we continually reassess how we drive competetive advantage, this is impossible without the right leadership.
Most importantly this is leadership from the business as well as leadership within the IT department. We know the days of the traditional IT manager are well behind us, yet we aren’t seeing anywhere near the level of skills, experience and leadership within organisations that are going to efficelty support change. On the flip side, it is the same with the business leaders also. Business leaders imply cannot afford to be niave in just assuming IT will fix all their problems and make things better. Business leaders need to take ownership of getting to understand technology, by no means in detail but to a level that with conviction can understand what value technology brings to their vision and their strategy.
IT Technicians shouldn’t be undertaking work without knowing the business value and impact and Business Leaders should be aware of what is happening in their organisation and how this could be impacting their strategic plans. Effective two-way communication between your IT team and your leadership will enable this.
Equally, there is a large wave of senior IT professionals who don’t deserve a place at the board, simply being because they don’t speak a business language.
The net effect of this is we end up with organisation not taking advantage of trends and enabling technologies because the leadership has been enabled to bring it together.
Which is why there is no such thing as an IT Project. There is however such a thing as effective leadership, and if there is one thing you want to change in your organisation start with this.