Sometimes the IT department shouldn’t make IT choices

Sometimes the IT department shouldn’t make IT choices
October 8, 2019  |  BY

Every business unit thinks they should own every decision related to their function. There’s a lot of truth to that opinion. Marketing, sales, accounting – they’re all experts in their specific field.

But sometimes decisions have to be made in context of larger goals. You have to bring in other perspectives. This is often the case with IT decisions. Sometimes, the IT department shouldn’t make every choice. Here’s why:

Set realistic expectations
You can’t determine the IT budget, or which metrics to use, before clarifying expectations of the IT department. Be specific about the role of IT in the organization, and then allocate the resources that align with those goals. This is critical. Otherwise, if you leave spending decisions solely to the IT group, their purchases may not end up being congruent with overall business objectives.

Everything can’t be equal
There are always many potential IT initiatives to carry out, and IT usually wants to execute all of them. But you have to prioritize. Every initiative can’t be, or shouldn’t be, funded. This is where company executives have to be part of the decision making process. The danger is that IT will take on an unrealistic workload, which can produce low quality results in some areas. They may also end up focusing too much on low-value projects instead of projects that directly affect the bottom line.

Allocate capabilities appropriately
Another common decision is which IT capabilities to centralize, and which ones go to specific departments. Executives must be part of this choice. The potential flaw of IT making this decision on their own? They might overdo standardization (this limits flexibility) or not standardize enough (this increases costs and limits cohesion).

It’s better to be good instead of trying to be great
Not only do you have to decide which services to deploy, you must determine what to optimize. It’s a matter of weighing the costs and benefits of the services. If IT alone makes the choices about optimization, the company could spend for services that don’t justify the price. In addition, employs might see increased downtime and poor connectivity issues.

Balance security and convenience
While every company cares about security and privacy, they come at a price. Executives must decide the tradeoffs between security and privacy, and how this can affect convenience. The IT department, with the best of intentions, may put too much stock in security and privacy and cause inconvenience for the general workforce. Conversely, they might undervalue security and privacy, which increases the chances of security breaches and corresponding liability.

Shared accountability improves project success
When projects fail or don’t match desired goals, fingers automatically point to IT. But that’s unfair. Executives have to recognize their role and responsibility in achieving success. Accordingly, a non-IT executive should be accountable for each IT project. By having shared accountability, you have more people paying attention, which means a higher likelihood of IT success.

Keep in mind that just because a decision centers on technology, the IT department shouldn’t always be solely responsible for that choice. When senior management collaborates with IT, technology spending betters aligns with the overall business strategy. That’s something where everyone can agree.