How to know if your IT professionals are good

Executives often want me to answer the question, “How good are my IT professionals” be they in-house employees or outsourced IT professionals. The first thing I say is, “If the IT professional is like a knight in shining armor, riding his horse in to save the day every time there is a problem, that’s not the best situation at all.”

IT professionals naturally, as most of us would, gain a great feeling of satisfaction when they swoop in to save the day. The real question I ask of the IT team during an audit is, “Why did the problem develop to begin with?” I’d rather there never be a problem and, when you see your IT professionals, it is to talk strategically about your IT systems rather than to solve another emergency.

Some of the IT professionals at the companies who’s executives bring me in to audit their systems say, “Thank you Mike. You taught us to drain the swamp so we could stop killing alligators. Once the swamp was drained, most of the alligators left.”

Some of the biggest encouragement you executives can provide your in-house and IT professionals are to focus on the following areas:

  • Strategic—IT professionals who are too bogged down in tactics fail to discuss important decisions with executives. A perfect example is whether or not the company wants to use full disk encryption on some or all of your computers. Too often the first the executives ever hear of full disk encryption is when they learn it is not installed and they are about to have to mail a letter to all the clients since a laptop was lost or stolen.
  • Automation—Servers can, when configured properly, do a lot of the work automatically that your IT professionals may be wasting time doing manually.
  • Central Management—IT professionals can configure the network so they can use one quick tool on one computer to take care of every computer in your organization—without having to visit every computer. The money savings and increased security can be staggering.
  • Metrics—IT can provide you with useful information such as most common help desk requests so you can reduce the causes, statistics on what web sites your employees visit most often so you can control bandwidth, and can sometimes bring information from two different programs together using business intelligence tools to give you important metrics related to your sales, processes, or even client demographics.

These are all a much better use of time and money than for your IT professionals to be fixing the same old problems they keep fixing every week.


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