Filling in More of the Gaps
This month I wanted to expand upon a blog post that I had written back on March 2013 (a year does go quick), called Filling in the Gaps. I think that the timing is right to revisit that topic, as it seems as time goes on within the IT world that we all live that there is a tendency to have a need to fill in the gaps. And these gaps can come in many forms: resource gaps, skills/knowledge gaps, technology gaps, utilization gaps, or even experience gaps. My point is that there will always be gaps that need to be filled and addressed within IT environments. And I am by no means suggesting that these gaps need to be filled externally through external resources, though this is an option for organizations in need might consider. Many IT organizations have the resources, skills, and time to be able to address these gaps and by all means, they should address them internally if they can. However, from our experience we see that many do not and need help. And we have great respect—and feel for—for those organizations that recognize that they need help, but cannot or choose not to do it internally, and reach out for help.
I believe that addressing any gaps within the IT environment is a strategic, even though the end results resolving these gaps can be very tactical. It is proactive and strategic and needs to be thought of as such. We see various areas in which gaps are found within IT organizations and (as mentioned above) they are:
This one is straightforward in which the organization does not the appropriate people or enough (quantity) people to address their current issues and challenges. In many cases this can be just a bandwidth issue as people are so busy addressing other issues being in reactive mode that they just don't simply have (or make) the time to be proactive and strategic. Also, the resource gaps in this case might be because the wrong person is in the wrong job, as harsh as that sounds. And do you know whose fault that is? Not the resource, but the IT manager who put them in there.
That is why it so important to ensure that you have the right people for the job, in not just IT, but in all of your positions. How do you know if you have the right person? We all know and have been there: It just works smoothly. If it does, then you probably have the right person. If it's more like concrete on concrete (an endearing term I like to use), then you probably don't have the right person.
Again, this one just makes sense. If your people don't have the skills they need to accomplish their jobs, then whose fault is it, really? Theirs or yours for putting them in the position without the skills they need? Again, a bit harsh, but very apropos. We see this very much within organizations we work with and the challenge in making sure that their people are trained to perform their jobs well. Notice I said not just perform, but to perform their jobs well. There is a big difference. The way to address this is to make sure your people are trained and have the skills that they need to do their jobs. And to do them well. Remember my concrete on concrete analogy above? This will help to mitigate that. Not eliminate, but definitely mitigate it.
This all about making sure you have the right technology in place to provide the IT services that are needed to support the organization. The appropriate and correct technology will help alleviate some of the challenges that we see organizations experiencing. As it's not just about technology, it's about the right technology that makes sense within an organization's specific environment that services a specific function to provide value. The right technology, used correctly, will go a long way to helping in the other areas mentioned above and below.
This is about having correct technology and/or processes in place to take advantage of said technology, but not using it as intended or not following the appropriate processes to ensure that it provides the value to the organization as it was intended. These are utilization gaps. And these gaps are very easy to blame up on the technology itself or the process itself. But if the technology is not being used as intended, or the processes followed, or even worse, there are no documented process to follow, then who is to blame for that? Use the technology, processes and people as intended and you'll see value in all they bring to bear.
Sometimes many of the issues come down to the fact that you've just not done it before, so are not sure of the best way to approach. That's to be expected as times when adopting new environments or new technology, but does not alleviate the burden of your need to the IT services you need to provide to your customers—both internal and external. The organization needs those IT services, whether the IT department can provide them competently or not. This problem can be alleviated through more experience or in reaching out to an outside provider to help.
Many of the items we see above can be mitigated—as we mentioned above—as treating them in a proactive fashion and as strategic items, versus just some sort of hole that needs to be plugged. This can be done internally through existing resources (see Resource Gaps above) or through consulting an outside firm to help identify and create strategies to address and fill in those gaps. From our experience, Vicom's customers have found value in our Process Maturity offering (see the blog post here) which provides that outside set of eyeballs to help address the these items, or we seem them utilize their own internal resources, if they can. Either way it gets accomplished.
There are times when that outside perspective can be invaluable and allow an organization or IT department to see things differently in terms of their gaps. Many times, we find that customers know what is wrong, but that outside perspective helps to validate what they already know or were thinking and causes them to act. So addressing these gaps is strategic and important to the inner workings of the IT organization—you don't want concrete on concrete if you can help it—but you need to able to identify, see and understand those gaps, before you can address them. Here's to filling in those gaps.