Executive Spotlight: Signs Your Company’s IT Operations Are Failing

Employee on laptop realizes their company's IT operations are failing
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Organizations must manage their IT operations or they could risk catastrophic outages and failures. What are the signs a company's IT operations are not working properly?

We recently asked our leading executives for their expert advice on the signs a company's IT operations are failing.

Here are their responses...

Michael Willis, Sports Business Operations Executive

The IT department is the backbone of off-the-field and on-field operations at the NFL. With failing IT operations, it would prove nearly impossible to maintain the necessary communications and infrastructure needed to operate in a professional sports arena.

Signs of IT failures would include:

1. Off-the-Field Operations

  • Home network and connectivity problems
  • You’ve suffered an IT security breach more than once
  • In-person meetings are taking longer due to Wi-Fi issues
  • Backup and recovery plans are a mystery
  • Employee productivity is down
  • IT issues between league office and teams during game day

2. On-Field Operations

  • Coach to quarterback communications problems
  • Sideline tablets are not working for game day
  • Instant replay will not be available for game officials
  • Media operations – cutting-edge graphics and stories
  • Security smart navigation to monitor dangerous weapons
  • Referee contact with league office for critical calls

Failing IT operations would damage the NFL’s main product – the GAME!

Michael Willis has 18+ years of experience working with accounting & sports organizations and has managed P&Ls of $10M - $125M+ with budgets of $3M-$50M+. He worked for the NFL for 22 1/2 years, mainly with the game officials working on the financial/accounting side of the business.

Lynn Holland, VP Sales & Business Development

IT operations, information technology concept

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In my work of evangelizing various SaaS technology solutions on behalf of emerging startup and growth founders, largely with enterprise companies, I have the privilege of helping ops leaders to recognize and solve operational challenges that are:

  • Exposing them to risk
  • Generating excess operating costs
  • Diminishing the profitability of their operations

From an objective, outside-in vantage point I help escort them through the practical considerations for identifying where their operations are underperforming because of technology or the lack thereof and justify addressing it by:

  • Mapping the end-to-end transaction or process as it flows through siloed workgroups, their existing systems, and data requirements
  • Recognize when tolerated low-value activities can be automated into new processes with a measurable near-term return, taking out the risk of errors, giving time back to the staff for income-producing activities, and creating greater capacity to increase output without adding more infrastructure
  • Informed by auditing end-to-end operation, preventing shelfware, and building a tech-buying solution spec for needs vs. nice-to-haves to source, evaluate, and select objectively best-suited tech solutions and partners
  • Building a whole-organization business case for selecting and adopting the new solution to the benefit of key stakeholders and those in their charge

Like the proverbial frog in the pot, however, it can be difficult for enterprise leaders to detect when it’s time to look under the hood because their operational technology is no longer serving them well. Here are five signs it’s time for a checkup:

  1. Lacking an owner of the end-to-end organization-wide technology and operations flow to know the process journey with associated data that flows through the organization, through departments, in and out of every system, then into a platform of record
  2. Lacking a periodic end-to-end audit of the organization-wide technology and operations process flow
  3. Existing operations require a manual process or data entry to transfer, share, or archive data between departments
  4. Excel spreadsheets are still a central tool in the operational process
  5. In the absence of an end-to-end technology and process audit, redundancies in apps, shelfware, and tolerated manual processes haven't been identified

Lynn Holland is a business development executive with 18+ years of experience taking operational, IoT & retail technologies, products, & consumer engagement to market with a focus in petroleum & convenience retail.

Carla Biasi, Personal Stylist

IT expert, information technology concept

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There are a few signs I would look for if you think your company's IT operations are failing.

First, do you consistently have the same issues? We understand there are hiccups with technology, but they should be resolved or in the process of it. If your IT problems do not get fixed, there could be bigger issues at hand.

Secondly, is your company outsourcing its IT operations? If there is no in-house department to work on IT issues, it makes sense a company would outsource this function. If there's an in-house IT department, they should be handling many of the issues.

And lastly, is there a lot of turnover or employee unrest in the IT department? If so, that could be a sign of interdepartmental issues that are resulting in poor performance from the team.

Carla Biasi is a personal stylist living on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She currently has her own business and works part-time at an upscale women's boutique and as a virtual and kit stylist for a women’s specialty brand.

Ana Smith, Talent Architect & Global Learning Strategist

IT operations, system error, information technology concept

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IT operations is a lot like your car: if something's not right, you'll know!

If your car isn't making the right noises when you start it, or if it's taking longer than usual to get going, that's a sign that something is wrong. There are other signals too: check the oil; look for leaks; check the tires and make sure they're properly inflated.

The same is true for IT systems. If your network isn't performing up to par or you're experiencing performance issues with applications and services, there could be something wrong with your infrastructure.

IT operations failure is often caused by poorly managed assets, so it's important to regularly monitor utilization levels and ensure that assets are appropriately sized for their workloads. Failure to do so can lead to increased costs due to underutilization or overprovisioning, which in turn leads to poor user experiences that negatively impact productivity and customer satisfaction levels within an organization.

My bottom-line comment would be to get a get-go alignment of metrics and expectations across different stakeholders and then measure and adjust as needed!

Ana Smith helps people & organizations achieve their full talent potential by developing and co-creating people strategies and customized solutions, and turning them into impactful outcomes and collaborative relationships, using coaching as the "red thread."

What are some other signs your company's IT operations are failing? Join the conversation inside Work It Daily's Executive Program.

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