You start small, implement some IT technology, processes, and maybe even people, but you don't plan and handle change well. You grow into a medium enterprise, and your inefficiencies and risks grow with you. Sound familiar? The key question to ask is "What's the cost of doing that?" Inefficiency has a cost, risk has a cost, and unfortunately some risks have company ending costs!
Why don't you get an IT Manager or CIO? Well obviously because you can't justify that as a business case because the company is too small. So, no IT manager / CIO, and you just keep going until you get big enough to justify a full-time resource. Now you're now faced with a massive transformation project to get your IT investment up to date, and you need to fix up all the issues you've accumulated over the years, and remove or treat the risk. Worst of all, you've missed out on all the advantages of having IT work for the business over the years, and the flow on effect that this would have to your customers, and hence profits!
This is called "Growing IT inefficiencies & risk" (at least that's what I call it), and it will impact the profitability of your organisation!
Worse still is the scenario where you company doesn't grow large enough to engage a full-time IT Management / CIO expert, so you live day to day with the problems. That's like playing Russian Roulette, because all risks have a probability of occurring, and the longer they exist the more likely they will eventuate. And if no one has identified them, they'll hit you out of left field like a ton of bricks!
I always like to think of IT as being the engine in a car, and the car is the organisation. The car is being steered by the business, and the engine should be going in the same direction (well that's kind of obvious). The engine should also be running efficiently, or it will cost more money to get to the goal. To do this, the engine needs to be understood and maintained, and you need to plan for things that might go wrong. e.g. What if the engine is prone to alternator failure? Do you do nothing, or make sure you can source a spare one quickly? Again, kind of obvious!
Now imagine that more people get in the car (i.e. your business is growing). You now need more power, so you bolt on a turbo. If your engine is well maintained and you've planned for this, it'll be ready to handle the extra load. If you just slap a turbo on your engine and it's running rough already, guess what - you're probably going to damage your engine, and your destination becomes harder to reach!
So, the moral of the story is, inefficiency costs money, risks cost money, and growing those inefficiencies and risks can cost you a whole lot of money, so grow smart!
By Michael Ouwerkerk