The Changing Role of IT Webinar Wrap-up

The Role of IT is Changing - Here Are 4 Things You Can Do to Keep Up.

In the past, information technology (IT) teams across the world have been focused on a few important things: email and network administration, end-user support, server maintenance, network uptime, and end-user training. Today, their proverbial plate has expanded to include more responsibilities than ever leading to overwhelmed leaders and, at times, underdeveloped teams.

This growing list of responsibilities is exactly what Kevin Allgaier and Pedro Martins discuss in the webinar It’s Not Just Networks and Hardware Anymore: The (Rapidly) Changing Role of IT. During the discussion, they explored seven skills and strategies for taking control of these growing asks. We’ll cover four of them today – let’s dive in.

1. Prioritize your IT tasks.

Although this may seem like a no-brainer, it’s surprising how difficult this can get when you have a laundry list of to-dos. Allgaier and Martins suggested five keys for keeping things prioritized:

Use effective tools.
Don’t get caught in the next “exciting” trend that doesn’t really provide substance or makes your job more difficult.

Maintain a “big picture” view.
Keeping a view of how your policies effect the everyday employee is critical to maintaining a good relationship with people in the organization.

Martins says, “If you lose sight of the big picture you will eventually lose people’s confidence. The IT guy becomes the person who comes around and says no or makes your life difficult. That's when people start to go around you.”

Keep it visual.
Get a whiteboard in your space and start tracking data on dashboards. You’ll be able to work through problems quicker and immediately see when you have an issue crop up.

Don’t overcomplicate the process
“The simplest solution is usually the right solution,” says Allgaier. Don’t overcomplicate processes or let things get out of hand. Find the simplest road to success and go for it!

2. Hire the right people.

As IT has become an increasingly visible role within law firms and companies at large, it’s more important than ever to find the right balance of skill and personality. In the webinar, Allgaier and Martins discussed five strategies for hiring the best folks for your team:

Be sure they speak the language
Don’t get caught up in a great personality. If they can’t talk shop, they’re not going to be successful in their role.

Network
The best hires often come via word-of-mouth recommendations. But if you don’t know anyone in your area, it’s going to be difficult to discover those shining stars.

Use marketing as a recruitment tool
If your company looks cool, they probably are cool – or at least that’s a pervasive assumption. Be sure to include items about company culture, open positions, and mobility within the company in your marketing materials.

Leave room for personality
After decades in IT, Allgaier can vouch for how much personality can contribute to the team and their position in the company. During the webinar, he related the following experience:

“I did a hire once for a frontline support technician and had people approach me saying, why did you hire this guy? He's not the sharpest tool in the shed. For several weeks people questioned my hiring decision. The only response that I gave them was just trust me. We provided training for him and he became a shining star who people loved working with. They would approach him with more than just technology issues – they would consider him a friend and he really played an important role in changing how people looked at IT within that organization.”

Use a technology recruiter
Recruiters are amazing, but when it comes to technology positions Allgaier recommends using a technology specific recruiter. They’ll have the best grasp of who has the right balance of technical skill and personality before passing them to you.

3. Stay aligned with management.

“Knowing what upper management wants out of you is really important but, at the same time, having them understand what it is you can do for the business is super important and aids them in making some of those business changing decisions that will ultimately impact the entire organization,” says Allgaier.

Aligning with upper management is a critical management skill for IT leaders, leading to effective execution of your role as an IT leader, and ultimately, as a function in the business.

4. Embrace the concept of “gemba”.

To drive everything home, Allgaier wrapped up the webinar with the Japanese concept of gemba.

He notes that if you want to effect real, lasting change that folks within your organization will embrace you must learn what people’s workflows are actually like. What are they dealing with in their day-to-day? How is your change going to affect them? Is it going to completely blow-up the way they do work?

“Watch someone go through an accounts payable or payroll process. It could be an engineering scenario. It could be whatever it is - but watch them go through that process. See them struggle and feel those pains with them, because that's how you better understand and come up with solutions that will work for them and the business,” says Allgaier.

From prioritization to gemba, the four concepts you see here are just a sample of the business insights from Allgaier and Martins. Watch the complete webinar, where they explain in detail how IT has transformed from a back-room cost center into a vital business partner for organizations of all types.

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