Published November 26, 2019

5 questions every business leader should ask their IT department

I was in a customer meeting a few weeks back where the cost of their IT downtime was a hot topic.  On the train on the way back I started to do a bit more research and a quick Google search brought up a whole list of stats and calculators designed to help people calculate this cost.  It got me thinking:  Why are business leaders spending time ‘estimating’ the cost of downtime when they ought to be focusing on proactively mitigating it?

In short, leaders are looking in the wrong drawers for their keys. Instead, here are five questions you should be asking to remain ahead of the curve.

1.      What’s our recovery time objective, and when did we last test it?

Recovery Time Objective (RTO) is a key disaster recovery metric every leader needs to know. How long is the time between an unexpected failure and the resumption of normal business? Also, when did the IT department last test for this figure?

If the RTO is too long, find a more viable disaster recovery strategy that cuts that timeframe. (Yes… you read the link correctly! Backup & recover a 1TB machine in less the 60 seconds!)

2.      What’s our IT transformation strategy look like?

There’s a lot to unpack here, but you need to know the boundaries of your IT before you can improve upon it. Ask your IT department:

  • Are we backed up and prepared to recover from a disaster?
  • Are we deploying VDI solutions to increase employee flexibility and productivity?
  • Are we moving to a software-defined infrastructure?
  • Are our hands tied with a ‘Cloud First’ IT strategy?

By building a holistic picture of your IT transformation strategy, you can begin optimising vulnerable areas like recovery timeframes, storage capacity and data efficiency.

3.      What’s our current on-prem-to-cloud ratio? Am I happy with this?

The next big question to ask your IT department is: How much of our infrastructure still sits on-premises compared to the cloud?

If your ratio is too far in the direction of on-premises, you might be missing out on vital changes that’ll make you more malleable as a business. Equally, if you exist almost entirely in the ‘cloud’ but you’re still paying for defunct resources, it might be time to start tidying that up.

4.      How quickly can we scale our IT infrastructure?

Ask your IT department about what your scalability looks like. You need to be able to react to internal and external pressures, whether it’s market opportunities or economic turbulence.

Public cloud can be highly inefficient and costly. We know this. Even hardware-defined infrastructure doesn’t put you ahead of the competition anymore. You need to find a solution that lets you scale up and down as quickly as you can. But also give you the most control when it comes to mitigating unwanted costs.

5.      How are we consolidating, standardising and automating our IT?

Finally, the three most fundamental things you need to know about your IT are:

  • Are we consolidating our infrastructure?
  • Are we standardising our processes?
  • Are we automating our operations?

Your change management strategy should fulfil these three areas at all times. If you fail to consolidate, standardise and automate your IT strategy, you fail to consolidate, standardise and automate your core business, and ultimately, you miss out on growth.

Your IT is a digital symphony, and you’re the conductor

Back in the day, your business’s IT department would work some voodoo and save you some money. And that’d be all you needed to know. Today, however, every department is an IT department, and your IT transformation strategy will make or break you.

By asking the right questions, then, you can become the conductor of your own digital symphony. All you need to know is in what direction you should point that baton.

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