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Published: March 13th, 2013

zzbio_526You’re probably burning out your corporate IT folks. With the pace of change and innovation increasing and the organizational demands on IT growing, there are still only 40-60 hours per week to get stuff done. The vast majority of IT’s time is spent keeping the lights on. The precious remainder is spent on a crumb of R & D or training to keep up. Never mind about taking a proper vacation. Unless there is a change in the laws of physics or a major increase in IT budgets (HaHa) … something has to change. In progressive organizations, it has already started. The first lesson is realizing that getting external help to look after your IT systems isn’t about replacing anyone.

Change always requires some heavy lifting and initial investment. But, done right, re-thinking your IT will net more than just keeping IT folks off the ledge and preventing stress leave. Your organization can flourish. Here’s the thing: the burden of upgrading and managing your IT infrastructure needs to be shared or offloaded completely. I submit that accounting sub-ledgers need to be modified and costs need to be shuffled. If you call it ‘outsourcing’ I call you a ‘dinosaur.’ You will NOT be laying off your IT folks and paying another company to run your IT. That never works.

Before we started IT Weapons, Jay and I got ‘outsourced.’ And we saw the consequences first-hand. We have always understood that it can’t work because the outsourcing company has no idea how your business flows, who’s who, or what makes your organization unique. They probably say they do … but words and facts don’t always line up. Any MSP or VAR out there who purports to replace your whole IT team is selling you snake oil.

My suggestion is to draw a line within your IT department; delineating priorities and opportunities between business demand and IT execution. Maybe your IT folks should be renamed to Business Analysts. The idea is to start changing the perspective and interpretation of IT’s role in the organization. Today’s effective IT pros must become experts in listening to your various lines of business and stakeholders. They must be able to identify technology ‘gaps’ and turn that data into specifications and the relevant KPIs to track the success of new tech implementations. Armed with that understanding of the genuine business needs, they can engage an outside IT partner and establish a strategic cooperative relationship where projects and back-end private cloud infrastructure are managed by the partner, but answerable to the internal IT staff. If you’re still thinking of this as ‘outsourcing’, you’re missing the point. You’re not evolving.

This is the same evolutionary path followed by hydroelectric power infrastructure in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Economies of scale, standardization, and efficiency were all gained by everyone involved as organizations and regions centralized on what has become today’s shared power grid. The same is going to happen with the back-end plumbing of your organization – and your internal IT folks need to be part of that evolution. Just as today it’s ridiculous to think that you should have a manager of electricity at your business – pretty soon it will be anachronistic to have a computing resource administrator.

Your brilliant tech folks need to be part of the business not part of the plumbing. IT will be a valuable piece of your business arsenal – a cherished member at the boardroom table and not ‘overhead’ or a ‘cost centre’. Change your thinking … Don’t ‘outsource’ anyone … liberate your smart people, and they will help your business flourish.

Ted Garner is the CEO of IT Weapons Inc., a Brampton, Ont.-based solution provider and multiple CDN Channel Elite Awards winner. He blogs at Ted’s Blog and tweets as@ITWepon1.