Returning IT to Growth

by Anish Mistry

Over the past 12 months we have started to see real signs of a recovering economy. Companies are slowly hiring again. They are shifting more dollars towards marketing and infrastructure. The biggest action is they are once again looking forward on how to position themselves for growth. With the return to growth mentality comes a renewal of how to manage and mitigate the growing pains.

When it comes to a company's IT department the main focus is generally on hardware infrastructure. While this is the most obvious choice it generally does not yield the biggest bang for the buck when your company is looking to expand. The first look should be at the people and processes. This will give you a better idea for what your IT infrastructure is currently providing, what it should be providing, and what are the externalities with the current way of processing information.

Next is to look to the future and ask the hard questions, "If we increase our customers by 15% this year, when do our processes break? When do our people break? When does our infrastructure break?" Understanding the context of your information and it's intended use is absolutely critical. For example your VP of Sales receives a pipeline email from the CRM system every Friday morning. He notices that volume is becoming more erratic so a request to IT is made to generate the report every morning. Several weeks later the VP of Sales makes another request for some additional report variations. Seeing the direction that this is going you task one of the staff to create a self service reporting module. Sounds like a win for efficiency, right? Well, maybe.

What the VP of Sales was trying to do was create projections of the sales for the next month and detect patterns in the sales traffic. He was doing this by processing the data in a spreadsheet to output a simple time-based graph. Knowing that end-goal, your solution would have been completely different. Cut out the manual processing and generate the graphs directly.

IT must not just be there to take requests and make everything turn more quickly. Return to that growth mindset of understanding the goals of the business and making the business truly more efficient and agile. What has your IT department done this week to improve top-line and bottom-line results?