Tag Archives: IT Procedures

Information Technology….According to Kris

Philosophy

  • Technology is not there for IT’s sake….it’s there to support the business
  • In any IT decision, provide 3 options and the cost/benefit of each.  Let the business decide
  • High quality customer service is MANDATORY from IT at all times
  • Use the right tool for the right job.  ALWAYS.
  • Making a mistake is better than not making a decision
  • In making a mistake, fix it, move on and don’t do it again
  • It’s okay to change your mind.  Revisit and re-assess often
  • Have a strategy
  • Always have a plan….short term, long term and always, ALWAYS have a plan B!
  • Study your user community; how much do they know, how do they work, how do they learn, how do they communicate
  • Like it or not, you’re in sales
  • Roll up your sleeves and get dirty when necessary
  • Wear a lot of hats
  • IT requires more creativity than you think
  • The devil is in the details

People

  • Put 100% trust in your staff and  hire very carefully
  • You can teach people technology, but you can’t teach them to have a good attitude and work ethic (well at least I can’t)
  • Require and cultivate a “right hand man” or a trusted “go to” person from your team.  This person can do everything you can do (in most cases better)
  • Multiple brains are always better than a  single brain
  • If there is a mistake made, it’s my responsibility, if there’s a job well done, it was the team
  • Put a good organizational structure in place where everyone has a backup and everyone has a growth path
  • Believe in a matrix organization….everyone is cross trained and everyone has a back-up (DON’T use matrix style as an excuse for a bad organizational structure)
  • Problem solving is a key skill in the IT department and the organization.  It’s IT’s job to teach these skills to the organization
  • Don’t expect anyone to do anything you wouldn’t do
  • Sometimes qualified expertise will get paid more than you do.  Deal with it.
  • IT people work 24×7.  Deal with that too.

Environment

  • It’s nice to have the biggest and best technology, but it’s not a requirement to be successful
  • Cost IS an object!
  • Pretty is nice….but functional is better
  • Buy vs. build is an analysis process that HAS to be done.  Assuming one or the other is wrong
  • Outsourcing is a viable strategy and needs to be applied wherever possible and appropriate
  • Vendor management is critical.  Create partnerships, not vendor/supplier relationships
  • Negotiate hard but do not squeeze every last dime out of deal.  Both sides have to have benefit from the relationship
  • Centralize IT management and systems control (can you say “control freak”?)
  • Don’t go anywhere without a white board (or two)
  • Establish and follow hardware and software standards
  • Have easy to follow request procedures for your users
  • IT is responsible for anything with a power cord
  • Use AUTOMATION wherever possible and reasonable
  • In a vendor relationship, the system may belong to the vendor but the data always (ALWAYS) belongs to the customer

Communications

  • Over communicate with your clients and user community
  • Study your users and communicate the way they want you to
  • Training and teaching people how to help themselves is a value in any organization (particularly when it comes to IT)
  • Companies require collaborative tools that allow them to work from wherever they are
  • Be accessible and provide escalations for technical issues

Data

  • ALL companies should have a master data warehouse or data repository.  You can’t run a business without it.  This is a HUGE priority!
  • Data should be EASILY accessible by all groups and divisions within an organization…not just IT
  • Data should be protected with all the appropriate business rules, security and strategies
  • Data grows with the organization….data management can start small but there must be a strategy in place to handle it as it grows
  • Robust Integration and data management is CRITICAL.  Dedicated resources need to be assigned to manage both.
  • STRONGLY believe in data warehousing, business intelligence and/or decision support

Technology

  • I believe Microsoft is a successful standard for business software
  • Open source is appropriate for some applications, use the right tool for the job
  • Systems integrations, systems auditing and reconciliation are key priorities in any transaction oriented business
  • Technology should be a corresponding size and scale for the business size and scale
  • Have a collaboration server and central document library with check in and check out
  • Always get the maintenance agreement
  • Always read the book
  • Someone has solved the same problem you have already.  Don’t recreate the wheel
  • Keep up

Policy and Procedures

  • Put IT Governance in place.  Make it efficient.  Make it understandable
  • I believe in correctly licensing all software
  • Security should be appropriate to the organization and not overwhelming
  • Contracts are there for a reason
  • Stay up to date with regulatory compliance
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The Client Bill of Rights (Something Every Outsourcer Should Have)

As a client of a service bureau for most of my professional life, I was constantly tortured by my vendors with things that I think they (as a matter of course) take for granted.  As a vendor now, It’s time to articulate and repeatedly reinforce these things with my organization and emphasize the need to put common sense practices into place. 

Here are my top items:

1.      Just say NO to production environment updates:  No production updates, EVER, EVER, EVER without partner approval in advance.  No one is even allowed to “BREATHE” on the production environment……Not (EVER)….Say it with me…. E-V-E-R!!! 

  • No applications changes without partner approval in advance.  E-V-E-R!
  • No database changes without partner approval in advance.  E-V-E-R!
  • No changes to production reports without partner approval in advance.  E-V-E-R!

2.      Provide regular status updates:  Partners are only going to bug you, call you or hunt you down if you don’t communicate (and they won’t be happy doing it either).  If they know what’s going on, they can fend off their angry users and will not have to bite our heads off later.  Status update means 5 bullet points in email….it does NOT mean ‘War and Peace’ on a special 50 page status form.

3.      Check the integrations:  It’s technology…. if you touch one thing, everything else breaks.  Make sure you are talking to all the other developers that code could impact.  Consider all the other touch points in the system as you code.

4.     Test it first:  Unit test and integration test before handing it over.  If it doesn’t successfully take a sales order or enrollment, put it in the database and it shows up on the internal and field facing reporting in all account classes…. DON’T SEND IT TO THE PARTNER FOR TESTING.

5.      It’s not done until there’s a report and a UI:  There isn’t a piece of code that will be written that doesn’t require or impact a report either for internal use or for the field.  Factor this into development every single time.

6.     Partners “heart” SQL:  When analyzing or auditting, send the partner raw SQL to show how it was done.  If we don’t have a report written, just send the SQL to the partner who can turn it into a report themselves.  Watch out for over-writing any existing reports.   

7.      We “heart” questions:  If you don’t know something or have a question about how to do something…. ASK!!!!  Don’t assume you know what the partner wants (that would be just too scary!!)