Remember the old days and the old ways of doing business when only sales contributed to a company’s profitability? When progress meant minimizing costs on everything else required to support sales? And as for IT, once we became convinced we couldn’t function without at least some technology, we accepted living with the costs while keeping them as low as possible.
Lead I.T. Consulting Blog
Putting a freeze on spending makes saving on expenses a sure thing, right? Don’t bet on it.
When it comes to technology, doing nothing can get pricey. Unless you are managing for change—anticipating the future and planning for new and updated software, systems and hardware—you’re on a tear toward a budget-blowing crash.
When’s the last time you sent your five-headed IT guy, aka Jack-of-all-trades, to a training class to learn about the latest technology? How sweaty and queasy do you feel when poor Jack has the flu and should really go home? And what about vacations? When Jack, so deserving of a break, finally takes one, do you sleep at night or lie there worrying whether he’s keeping his mobile handy? Do you reach for your own smart phone, fingers itching to hit speed dial just in case tomorrow you need to?
I’m willing to bet no one reading this blog is so focused on the future they’ve forgotten how tough the economy has been on business in the not-so-distant past. Four years ago a lot of previously healthy companies began downsizing in terms of people and production when it was the last thing they wanted to do. If you were lucky enough to avoid cutting salaries, chances are you went along with everyone else and slammed the brakes on spending.
I don’t have to tell you why one person shouldn’t be solely responsible for processing the mail, handling the bookkeeping, signing checks and making deposits. Everyone knows the business risks inherent in solo access to critical information. However responsibilities are divided, we also rely on a documented system of checks and balances to maintain security and keep the business running smoothly and profitably. Businesses fail when they don’t keep accurate and accessible financial records.
What’s the bestselling car in the world? The Toyota Corolla—39 million sold through April 2012, according to Toyota Motor Corporation. And it was the first car ever to achieve $30 million in sales. What’s so special about this less than spectacular, non-luxury, at best average ride? I have to believe its combination of value and price meets the needs of lots of drivers since it’s been selling well for over 40 years. What I’d like to know is what do all those first-time Corolla drivers buy next? What happens when a family outgrows its compact car? Or the kids get a dog and Dad buys a boat?
Recently I met with a couple of IT company executives whose target clients happen to include medium-sized enterprises. I mentioned that they must be talking to a lot of CFIOs, but all I got back were two blank stares.
It is a relatively uncommon title, but in a company with less than 250 employees, the potential for finding someone filling this position is huge. In this range, a growing company that first brings on a controller will eventually recognize the need for a CFO. Somewhere along the road to advancement and growth, it often happens that the controller is the first to take responsibility for information technology.
Have you heard the one about the elephant?
A guy walks by the circus where an elephant is tethered by a flimsy cord. He asks the elephant’s trainer, “How can you keep him tied up with that? He could snap that twine and walk away.” The trainer explains that the elephant has been tied by the same rope since he was a baby when he didn’t have the strength to break it. At an early age, the elephant discovered he couldn’t get away, so by the time he was older and stronger, he no longer tried. He’d learned to accept his limitations.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That’s a model every business follows now and then. That’s fine if whatever’s unbroken can’t be improved by “fixing.” But if that’s your model when it comes to technology, then you’re missing the boat—and a lot more.