Well, sometimes it is the fault of the IT team in your organisation. But quite often it isn’t. Sure, they may be slow at closing tickets or leave what seems or is a fairly simple fix dangling in the aether for weeks or months. Or there’s some unresolved issue that you think is a feature or access issue but is something else entirely. This happens a lot in small to medium sized businesses with an IT team that is anywhere from two to 10 people. More often than not however, it turns out to be something else entirely.
A lot of small or mid-size business owners as well as the employees have a sort of love/hate with their IT team or even the outsourced provider. What we most often find however, is that this comes down to a misunderstanding of exactly what IT folks do and more importantly, what IT does not do.
This discontinuity is IM or Information Management. Let’s take setting up SharePoint or Microsoft 365 or even Google Workspaces, name your productivity software suite, the issue is the same. First, let’s address what IT people are trained to do and have become expected to do within an organisation.
IT professionals are trained to manage software and hardware purchases, implementations and sometimes the basic training on how to sign-in and how key features are used. They keep the internet running, manage cybersecurity, credentialing, maybe mobile devices (fully or partially), ensure patches and updates are made to software, troubleshoot user problems and generally just keep things running. I’m simplifying a bit, but the key thing here is that IT people are very, very rarely trained or skilled in Information Management or it’s related Information Architecture or creating Business Intelligence programs and dashboards.
When we use the term Information Management (IM) here, we are lumping in Information Architecture or IA (how, for example, your SharePoint sites and various storage drives), Knowledge Base or KB (like setting up a company Wiki or special KB software application) and turning information into actionable intelligence.
Where we see the frustration most often is the handover from IT to IM within the organisation. Part of this comes down to how many software and technology companies market their products. They make it seem like IT or even your marketing department will plug it in and miraculously you’ll be creating amazing things and everything is solved. Until it isn’t. And it never is.
The diagram below shows where IT and IM overall, but what the differences in discipline knowledge are as well.
What is often the case is that employees and management get new software installed by IT and then get frustrated when IT doesn’t solve the business problem. If you’re a large enough business, you’ll likely have some IM people in the company or business analysts, who’ve done some IM legwork. Sure, IT can and should, train on the basics of using the software, but IT professionals aren’t trained in IM or Knowledge Management. It’s an entirely different skill set.
If you’re about to implement a new software application, especially one that is very heavy on data, information and knowledge production, bringing in someone with IM experience and knowledge will help reduce friction between IT and employees and help ensure a more successful implementation. Conversely, you may already have all the tools you need, you just don’t have anyone with IM skills to bring them to life.
One thing to make sure of is that you have a solid Information Architecture in place before you get into IM, otherwise you’ll have even more problems. But that’s for another post.
So next time you’re about to get mad at your IT service provider or team, first understand if it is an IT issue or an IM challenge.