By now, you have submitted your budget for 2012 and hopefully have an updated set of business and IT goals. And even if it is not final, you have a solid draft and good understanding of what you must get done in 2012 to be successful. So, here are several things to add to your technology plans if you are not already doing them:
Give them BYOD: If you have not enabled your company’s staff to do their work on their own mobile device yet, put it in your 2012 first quarter plan to pilot it and then to roll out in 2012. This is an easy win — it saves your company money and it enables your users to use the device they want to use and be more productive. Not sure how to begin? Here is one reference on how and another on the trends. And check out the prevalent toolset being used at Good Technologies.
Implement more self-service: An oft-neglected area is the improvement of your support functions and their productivity and service. In a typical corporation almost every employee is touched by the HR and Fiance processes, which can be heavily manual and archaic. By working with your Finance and HR functions you can reduce their costs and improve their delivery to their users through implementation of automation and self-service. Continued improvement in workflow toolsets from Sharepoint to Lombardi mean you can automate and put on your intranet more and more minor business processes than ever before at far less cost and effort. The end result is lower operations costs in HR and Finance, a more satisfied user base, and a better perception of IT.
Topgrade your team: With the weak economy of the past several years, and your budget being under pressure, there is significantly less turnover of personnel, even in IT. Don’t wait for the upturn to improve your team. Ensure you have rigorous improvement plans for the mediocre performers on your team. And if there is no material improvement, look to topgrade. Now is the time to replace poor performers with strong new talent. Don’t wait for the economy to fully turn around and growth to be required, everyone will be looking then, and it will be much harder to get the best talent.
Virtualize everything new: Perhaps you have made good progress on virtualization and are now above 40 or even 50% of your servers being virtualized. You should be able to get this to 80 or even 90%. How? Presumably you have projects in your 2012 budget to tackle some of the remaining significant pools of legacy servers. That’s great. But make sure you close the barn door. Insist that every new project must use virtualized servers and storage. And any exceptions require CIO approval with strong business case rationale. You want to use fiats sparingly, but this is one case where the change in behavior from every project thinking they must have dedicated infrastructure yields outstanding benefits across the board.
Start an intern or graduate program: Often, intern or graduate programs are the first areas to be cut when times get tough. Yet these programs enable you to bring on skilled resources at very low cost to assist your team. And you should really view them as extended interview sessions where you have productive work being done during the interview. As you should be keenly aware, the IT unemployment rate is quite low, this summer it was 3.8%, which is basically close to full employment. So, in order to get a jump on the best grads this year, start or expand your intern and graduate program. By bringing new talent in the door, you will reduce your overall, average IT staff cost, bring in new ideas and fresh energy, and contribute to your community and local education institutions. A win-win-win all around.
Do some fun awards and incentives: Let’s face it, things are tough and have been for several years. The economy, the global situation (e.g., Euro), and the housing crisis contribute to a dour mood. And the upcoming yearlong political campaign in the US will only further heighten the general negativity. Your workforce though will not be as productive in this downtrodden mental state. So make a difference in 2012. Have some fun and celebrate successes, even smaller ones. Provide some fun and low cost rewards for your teams that meet your goals and values. And providing some fun recognition is a key retention factor for your best staff. Don’t make the mistake of rewarding the arsonist for putting out the fire he set, so ensure that you consider the means as well as the ends on any effort. But have some fun, make it unique, and reward the team!
Business intelligence: One last item to check to make sure you have it in your 2012 plan is leveraging the data you already have to know your customer better, improve your products or services, and reduce your costs. Why have advertising for customers who never click through or buy? Why do customers call your call center when they should be able to do it easier online? Knowing your customers and knowing your products and services requires IT to partner with the business to leverage the data you have to obtain intelligence. Investing in this area should be a key goal for 2012. If you are not doing much here, then I recommend finding out what your competitors are doing and sitting down with your business partners to sort through what you must do. Add it to your list.
What would you add to the 2012 plan? What are your highest priority areas for 2012? Risk and Regulatory? Growth and new product? Or Cost and Efficiency?
Share your thoughts, I look forward to hearing from you.