Is Information Technology the Solution?

They say when a person wants to write a blog, they need to know the audience, but in this case I am not sure if I need to focus on information technology or operations.  Let me explain.   I have been involved directly and indirectly with information technology for the past 20 years, but I still do not consider myself an information technology eccentric, in fact there are times when I want nothing to do with it at all. 

When I attended college I thought information technology was where I needed to focus, where the excitement was, but after countless programming classes I quickly realized I was completely wrong.  I would program all day, compile my code and find more errors than when I began.  Because of my programming shortcomings, I decided to pursue business operations and quickly identified I was much better suited for this career path than information technology.    As destiny would have it, after being in operations and finance for an extended period of time I was once again summoned to a foreign world and received my master’s degree in information technology.   It was at this time I fully understood the magnitude of information technology on an organization, but also knew information technology cannot fix broken processes, cannot always lower operating costs, cannot have an immediate impact on efficiencies, and cannot always realize immediate returns on investments.  What I did understand was if implemented correctly, you could achieve all the items listed above and more. 

Information technology can be the biggest and most useful tool in your operational toolbox, but can also be your biggest and most demanding resource guzzler to include your people and money.    In many different instances, organizational leadership becomes enamored with a small percentage of information technology functionality and loses sight of the overall impact to the organization (negative and positive).

When executing an analysis of what an organization needs or does not need, some of the most basic questions requiring answers are never considered and choices are made for the wrong reasons.  The most powerful question an organization must ask themselves is the following:  What is the problem we are attempting to fix?  Is there truly a problem, is it related to people, cost, process, or a thing?  This is the most fundamental variable to be considered and the most important to recognize, but in a lot of my experiences, both buying and selling, it has been consistently overlooked.

In many instances information technology is a partial fit or not a fit at all and it is incumbent upon all of us to be forthright to ourselves and our customers when executing an analysis.  If a process is broken, in most cases technology will not fix the systemic issue and at times only highlights additional deficiencies.  Fixing the process and applying technology to execute is the correct sequence, not the other way around.  Is information technology the answer or is there another means to achieve success?  The information technology professionals cannot continue to believe everything can be fixed or all problems solved by implementing a technology solution. 

I have been involved in technology decision making for the last 20 years and I have been fortunate enough to have some major operational successes, but also fortunate enough to have come catastrophic failures, and that is why I feel qualified to write this blog.  Always consider the obvious when working with a potential customer even if the conversation is not overly popular, or the outcome is not in your favor.  If you choose this path, I can guarantee you will be more respected within the industry and the percentage of return customers will always be greater.

John Postorino MS, MA, LSSBB, CSM, PMP is the Managing Partner at McGlaun Consulting.