Is your IT department stuck in reactive mode? To be pro-active means that you do not wait for things to happen, but instead work towards creating desired outcomes. Proactive companies are both tactical and strategic in their approach to IT. Their tactical items focus on what IT is doing today while their strategic action items look to what they will be doing tomorrow.
Reactive IT departments often operate without the strategic piece. As a result, they are stuck in crisis mode without preparation for the future. Here are some characteristics of a reactive IT department:
- Problems are only addressed when they arise. A chaotic fire fighting mode is considered par for the course
- Initiatives are focused on resolving past issues or meeting current needs without much thought about future goals
- Decisions are only made when absolutely necessary
- Staff members are often wondering “how did this happen?” or worse, “why does these keep happening?”
- IT systems are plagued with band aid solutions that were never meant to solve long term problems, but simply keep the lights on during reactive times of crisis
- Business does not value IT and looks at technology as only a cost center
Being reactive is extremely limiting since it does not anticipate the needs of end-users or serve business initiatives. It leaves the company vulnerable to IT problems that could impact the bottom line and damage reputation.
3 Steps to Transforming IT
Step 1: Plan
Proactive IT departments anticipate the future. They understand potential outcomes and plan accordingly. To do this, examine patterns, investigate root-causes of reoccurring issues and define goals that are focused on resolutions. This requires breaking out of the cycle of focusing only on today, and looking instead towards upcoming business and technology needs.
Step 2: Participate
To be effective, participation is key. Buy in throughout IT and the rest of the company is necessary in order for proactive plans to be adopted. Have road maps in place with the ability to concisely explain your reasoning behind each plan to departments across the company so that others can support the initiatives. Speak to the CFO about profits and losses, technology capabilities. To the CIO, highlight the benefit of reducing fires and finding the elusive root causes of reoccurring problems.
Step 3: Perform
With support across the company, executing proactive initiatives becomes far less difficult. Perform tasks with confidence and vision. By being actionable and timely, you’ll demonstrate how truly important these efforts are even when they are not reactive in nature. This helps to break the ideology that items are only important if they are addressing a crisis. When you see that a proactive approach has prevented a less desirable outcome, speak up! When people see that their hard work has paid off they will be more likely to continue contributing in the future.
Of course, these steps are simple in nature but complex in execution. Resist the urge to feel overwhelmed or powerless and focus on proactively solving one problem at a time. Before long, a reactive mode can be abandoned for a more responsible and planned approach.
About the Author
Tara Sharif has extensive experience in IT recruiting and sales. She is consistently a top performer at every organization that employs her. She is currently working as an Executive Account Manager at InsightETE where she partners with enterprise organizations to provide APM consulting services. InsightETE is an Application Performance Management firm offering a full line of solutions and consulting services to fortune 1000 and larger companies, and an industry first 100% money back guarantee.