Not Getting a Good ROI From IT? Guess Whose Fault That Is

By Brian White | Small Business

If there is one thing, just one thing, that can drastically reduce your IT costs and send your ROI to new levels it’s never been to before then here it is:  Only work on what’s actually worth it.

Seems like common sense, right?  It’s the “worth it” part though that can be more effort than it appears.  In many small and medium businesses right now, the “worth it” part isn’t even really evaluated. This is particularly true on what seems like small things such as adding a button to custom application, a new field to a data entry screen, a small change in the business logic that the software is currently using.  But below are some dangers you need to be aware of.
  1. No prioritization.  As you begin to create a list of things you need your IT guys and gals to work on make sure that entire list is prioritized and as new things get added they are prioritized as well.  If you don’t then you’ll be surprised what sort of things will drive what get’s done like how easy it is to do or how easy it is to discern the requirements or a classic case of the squeaky wheel getting the grease.  Create an ordered list to keep your IT staff from become wandering nomads through your list of requests.
  2. No value assessment.  If you have business people on your staff capable of making direct requests to your IT team, how do you know what value that request brings?  Does it make a positive and worthwhile impact on your bottom line or just his or her job a little easier?  Don’t let your non-techie staff take the Ferrari out to go pick up groceries.
  3. No risk assessment.  Information technology is a risky venture.  Even the simplest of things can blow up trying to get them done.  Other times a simple change can have a bigger impact than anyone thought.  Make sure that your IT staff are only working on things worth the risks the changes pose.  100 small low-value changes may not be worth the instability it can bring to the application.
  4. No gatekeeper.  Issues 1 – 3 usually happen because of this one.  One or more people on the business side should be familiar with all requests going to IT and deciding what will actually be done.  This way low value/high risk stuff gets weeded out.
  5. No cost assessment.  If you ask IT can they do this or do that, their answer will be “Yes, we can.” Especially if it’s a vendor who is billing you by the hour.  What you need to ask is “How much effort will it be?” Make sure you have an answer from the IT folks that you can translate into a cost.  ”Medium” effort doesn’t tell you anything.  1 week at full-time effort from 2 developers is an effort you can price.
  6. Poor requirements communication.  You won’t be able to do 5 without being able to clearly and with sufficient detail articulate what you want changed.  Your IT folks might give you an estimate on crappy requirements but you just won’t be able to reasonably bank on it because you won’t know all the assumptions they just made to fill in for not having enough details.
  7. Handing business responsibilities off to IT.  Your non-teching people need to own the responsibility of making decisions on what’s done or not done. They should be spearheading points 1-4 and 6. Your IT staff should do 5 but they won’t ever be able to do the others as well as your business personnel in the trenches are going to be able to do it.  That requires more time and effort from your business side of the house, but then again that helps make sure that they make requests when it’s “worth it”.

This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: Not Getting a Good ROI From IT? Guess Whose Fault That Is.

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