Maximize IT: Improving your IT value by wearing new glasses

by Kevin Squires
Kevin Squires is Vice President, Business Technology for the Econo-Rack Group of companies (Konstant, RediRack, Econo-Rack, Technirack.)
Kevin Squires is Vice President, Business
Technology for the Econo-Rack Group of companies
(Konstant, RediRack, Econo-Rack, Technirack.)

I have changed jobs a few times. Who hasn’t?

If you think back to the first few weeks you were in a new role, you may recall talking to people and creating a list of “low-hanging fruit” that you could address immediately to generate some tangible value and much-needed goodwill; to show that the company was absolutely right in hiring you; and to prove to all your new colleagues that you are indeed the right person for the job.

Hang on, wait a second. You are very happy in your role and, to the best of your knowledge, you aren’t going anywhere soon. So, what does this have to do with you, and why should you keep reading?

I am glad you asked. The answer is that even though you are happy and content, you can employ the same principles as if you were just hired to significantly improve your IT value!

What if you were to adopt the mentality of trying to make any potential replacement need to work extremely hard at showing they were the right person for the job? In other words, why not look at picking a basket full of that low-hanging fruit NOW, while you are still the incumbent?

How? Take a moment and pretend you are new in your role and look at it through those glasses. Take a peek through your new specs at your IT shop and ask yourself what you would immediately tackle if you had just been hired. How can you get at that low-hanging fruit now, make some jam and have a party?

Easy, use your new glasses to examine three key areas: addressing long overdue pain points, doing a peer review of your IT landscape and identifying who you need in the other business areas to be successful.

In most companies, there are widely known issues or common pain points that seem to affect a broad base of users but, for some inexplicable reason, no-one has addressed. YOU can be a hero if you are the one that comes up with a solution.

For example, I joined an organization that had a sign-on for almost everything: you had to sign on to the network, to your e-mail, to the reporting system, and even to the intranet. Everyone hated it, but it was just how “it had always been”. Enter Single Sign On (SSO). It was a bit of work but well worth the credibility and good will it created.

Pull off one like this and you are immediately seen as a person who gets things done. So, with your new glasses, look for these pain points that have flown under the IT radar.

Another tactic is to use an IT colleague who works for another company. Share your IT landscape with them from a high level perspective (being careful not to divulge any ingredients in the secret sauce) and see what areas jump out to a fresh pair of eyes. Chances are they may have seen some of the things you may be overlooking and can offer you some alternatives you can investigate.

I am sure this type of peer landscape review would have easily caught the Single Sign On issue if my predecessor had taken the time. I’m glad he didn’t, since I am still wearing my red hero cape.

On the subject of networking, continue to use your “new glasses” and ask yourself who you need in other departments to help ensure your success. Do you have them onboard now and have you done sufficient care and feeding of the relationship to be able to count on them in a time of need? If not, develop a small strategy to include them in your plans, clearly demonstrating the value to them: a definite win-win.

When speaking about this approach, it really does cause some lightbulbs to go off. One of the inevitable questions that always gets asked is “How often should you put on your New Glasses?” The answer is “it depends” since there are many unknown factors: time, energy and perceived value all being at the top.

At a minimum, I would suggest once a year if you found any value—more often if you are really getting good ideas and want to make it tough for any one silly enough to try and replace you!

If you make this a routine practice, any potential new guy will curse your name in dark, whispered tones since they will be hard pressed to come up with any quick wins. Make them work hard at creating value the old fashioned way, with their own ideas and experience, and not on the back of your forgotten nuggets. Make them truly earn their own red hero cape!