With the growing importance of technology in business, Finance Directors increasingly see that IT leaders have a substantive role to play in business transformation and are integral to driving the business’ strategic agenda forwards; proactively increasing productivity, growing profit and improving customer and employee satisfaction.
Business transformation is a hot topic for many Board of Directors – evolving IT so that instead of being the cost centre it’s long been perceived to be, it becomes a proactive source of real value to the business.
This does require a shift in the approach to IT management that focusses more on outcomes than technology. So here’s a Finance Director’s perspective on five steps an IT leader could take to begin the vital process of transformation.
1) Listen to the business
Take the time to understand how IT can align to the overriding business strategy as well as identifying the day-to-day needs of each department. This is an essential foundation for IT to positively impact all areas of the business.
Sales Managers, for example, might want to drive more sales from their existing customers. How can IT align with this objective? What tools and services could they provide to help achieve it, effectively and efficiently?
Consider setting up mechanisms to listen to the needs of the business – technology workshops may be a good way forward.
2) Seek competitive advantage
Set objectives for the IT department that create competitive advantage rather than those that focus on technical matters. That might mean focusing on ways to help drive revenue, reduce cost of sale or make processes more efficient. Or it might mean concentrating on improving the customer experience to help customer acquisition and retention rates.
3) Be a catalyst for changing the future
Ensure you balance the focus on both the future and the past. Establish IT as a creator of revenue opportunities that looks to implement other departments’ ideas rather than solely fixing problems.
4) Use business metrics
Include business metrics in your IT scorecards in areas where IT can be the enabler to move the business forward. These can include customer service and experience metrics and sales productivity. In turn, these can then be translated into IT availability and performance metrics for individuals in the IT department.
5) Focus on service
Shift the focus to service and experience rather than projects and technology by looking to understand the outcomes that users want to achieve. Look beyond improving or upgrading existing technologies by identifying a suite of technologies that enables the service that users really need.
Hopefully, these five ways to think differently are a useful start point in the journey to shift the focus of IT to become integral to the strategic development of your business.
About the author:
As Finance Director for ONI, Richard has overall responsibility for finance, legal and HR operations. Richard is also ONI’s lead on Information Security and oversaw the certification of ONI under ISO27001 in 2014. He is committed to delivering a professional and efficient service to our customers, suppliers and employees alike.
Richard qualified as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG spending a total of 12 years with the global professional services firm. In total his career in finance spans 30 years in both blue-chip and private businesses, with experience in the technology, engineering, staffing and support services markets.