When I first started in the software business, IT was very different from what it is like now. And I’m not referring to just the tech tools—but those have changed by leaps and bounds also. IT’s behavior and standing within agencies have changed significantly. Essentially, if it wasn’t for the IT department, many organizations would not have been able to shift and function anew during the shutdown. Operationally, IT departments have quite literally allowed organizations to completely change the way they work. New equipment and software have been sourced, network security audited and increased, in-person workflows automated, counter service moved to the web. etc. With this momentum, IT departments everywhere are planning to bring their big ideas to the table. The technology department is now firmly in the camp of strategic enabler and partner.
IT’s Increasing Importance
This view of IT should continue as they play a critical role in creating and fostering digital culture, And, ultimately this role delivers innovation. Remember when records management consisted of offsite storage, boxes, paper, a calendar, and spreadsheets? How about photocopying, lots and lots of copying? Eventually, smart records managers partnered with the technology departments which ultimately led to digital records management. Recall when disaster recovery was a storage box of CDs kept at the home of the IT director? Me too! Nowadays it’s a Trusted System built using ECM and WORM storage via the partnership of records managers, IT, software, and hardware vendors. In both cases, IT partnered with the business unit (and vendors) which drove innovation. I for one can’t wait to see what comes next from this type of cooperation.
Staff Adoption: Now More Flexible
It’s interesting how staff react when they have no other choice, somehow they quickly adopt the technology. Suddenly, when teams really need that business process to complete their task, changing a template field value is easy and so is approving that new form. They figure it out and some will tell you it was easier than they thought it would be. Some IT leaders are keeping change management processes in place so as time moves on they can make full use of the tools they have and not just infrequently use a few features.
Looking to IT for What Comes Next
While any number of factors (other than pandemics) can trigger a decision to modernize. For IT, the explicit goal should always be to deliver value. Every investment in technology should augment benefits for internal and external clients. Whether it’s through better experiences using forms rather than PDFs or workflows instead of email attachments, or other operational efficiencies that reduce costs and add value.
As an example of a value-driven approach, clients I’ve worked with use these questions to determine whether the project will deliver value to the organization:
Why do we need to enhance or change our technology right now?
What problems do we expect to solve?
Can we test/prove our theory? If so, how?
How will this change deliver value to our internal and external customers?
Over the years the IT department has come a long way and as long as they work closely with clients to deliver value I think they’ll continue their hero’s journey.