IT enemy No. 2: The Penny Pincher
Whether it's an enterprise-level CFO or a small-business owner, a penny-wise/pound-foolish manager can stand in the way of necessary IT investments -- making your job much harder.
Penny-pinching CFOs are among the biggest enemies of IT, says Nancee Melby, director of product marketing at Shavlik Technologies. "Any CFO who thinks the free patching solutions from Microsoft are good enough needs to find a new job -- or get out of IT's business. Leaving your keys in the car and only locking the driver's door will keep out only the stupid criminals."
Granted, IT can be a bottomless pit, notes Peter Marsack, director of business development for Vision Computer Solutions, an IT services firm for SMBs. But that can often lead to an irrational fear of all spending.
"The beauty of technology is you can dump a virtually limitless amount of capital at it and still have problems in your technical infrastructure," he says. "Because of this, getting purchasing requests approved can be a tedious process even if the cause is just."
Marsack points to medical companies that refuse to become HIPAA-compliant -- despite the security benefits and the penalties noncompliance might incur -- simply because upgrading all their equipment cost too much.
"I have clients who refuse to replace their 7-year-old computers because 'they still work' even though their staff burns through 10 hours a week just waiting on slow machines," he adds. "Most people think they can just purchase computers, put a network in place, set it, and forget it. We have to explain to them these machines need to be maintained and supported."
Recognizing the enemy: Though you might garner clues from threadbare office furniture or those Windows 98 machines running in the reception area, the only way to know for sure is to ask pointed questions about how the organization allocates resources for technology, says Marsack.
"If they answer, 'We never do that,' or, 'We get things as we need them,' that's a red flag. If they say they devote X amount of dollars or allocate money on a regular schedule, they're more likely to invest the money required."
Your best defense: Gather intelligence. Find an incident where the organization's lack of IT investment hurt its bottom line -- say, a server that crashed or a backup that failed, leaving customers in the lurch -- and exploit it.
"These are the kinds of things that happen when you're not allocating appropriate resources to technology," Marsack says.
Still, he adds, defeating this enemy isn't easy.
"I've not met many people who enjoy writing a check for any amount budgeted for technology, even though their entire company runs on it," he says. "The person with the checkbook is the hardest person to please in the business."