According to the unmatched wisdom of Investopedia:
A cost center is a department or function within an organization that does not directly add to profit but still costs the organization money to operate.
Reality check: IT departments are not cost centers. Yes, it’s critical to have an IT department to troubleshoot problems in your technological framework, and yes, we should all high-five an IT worker today for being ready and willing to help us with our trivial computer problems.
But no, they aren’t meant to stay boxed in to their cubicles, only to be called upon when you need them to restart your system.
Your IT department is capable of doing so much more for your company. It’s not enough for your IT department to just be aware of your company’s strategy. It’s not enough for your IT department to simply be aligned with your company’s strategy. Your IT department is not a separate entity from your company. They’re a functional part of your company’s ecosystem. Your IT department will benefit greatly from being involved in helping your company fulfill its mission and goals at a higher level. That means your IT teams must work together with the business people in your company to brainstorm, design, and develop systems that are key to creating business value for your company and customers. The technology teams can no longer be seen as an external group that creates what the business people ask for.
But, knowing how to bring IT into helping drive your company’s strategy is tricky. We get it. Luckily, there are some easy things you can do. Unlock your tech team’s potential by implementing these practices.
1. Include your software developers in top company meetings.
This is key. Including developers may be atypical in the top-down model of leadership hierarchy that we’re used to, but the reality is that this is the first step in making your IT department better. Including your developers in strategic meetings is a direct way to embed your IT team into your company’s strategies, goals, and mission. When your IT department is keenly aware of and involved in your company’s direction, they can accurately support your company’s technological needs—and having a clear direction can boost their morale. You may even find by collaborating with the team leaders that your IT department is capable of performing tasks you didn’t even know you needed.
Not only that, but the software development team leaders know what their team needs to succeed. You’re setting yourself up to equip them with the tools and business context they require to support your company. You have the opportunity to directly hear their needs and set them up for success. If you’re wondering how to make your company better, start by including your IT department in your company meetings.
2. Help your IT department cultivate an innovative, modern environment.
You’ve already chosen a path to differentiate yourself from your competition. Great choice! . Now, your IT department needs to hop on board. Since you’ve been including senior developers in your top company meetings, the time has come to gather feedback from the whole IT department. Allow the team to express ideas that push your company into the 21st century: an era of online ordering and rapid delivery catering to a growing population of DIY-ers. Allow your IT department to be responsible for realizing the company’s goal of staying modern and relevant. Like we mentioned above, you may find that your IT department is capable of performing a task you didn’t even know you needed. Such a task can mean the difference between advancing and succeeding like Amazon, or falling behind and failing like Kodak. Whatever your company’s needs are, engage your IT department in building your company’s strategy.
Give your technology team room to experiment and fail. This requires psychological safety where failures are not perceived as negative, but learning experiences that enable them to create something truly valuable. A company or team with psychological safety will help your team members take risks, learn, and share ideas in a way that might change your company forever.
If you want to know how to make your IT department more productive, hear the team out if they seek a fresh approach to their work. A change in development methodology might just be what they need to increase creativity and innovation. Consider making steps to become more agile as a company. This will enable your team to deliver features as they become available, shorten feedback loops so you can pivo (2020’s word of the year) on what you’re delivering, and remove constraints that will help your teams deliver value faster. It may even increase employee retention and satisfaction.
Click here to read about how Steele Consulting can use agile development to benefit your company.
Steele Consulting is ready and willing to work closely alongside your IT department to help you innovate and advance in an ever-changing industry. We are passionate about helping clients implement their values and missions through technology.
We’d love to connect with you! Consider working with Steele Consulting to improve your company’s technological framework today.