IT should view itself as a service
The most effective IT departments go beyond being a simple enforcement agency
IT leaders love processes and policies. After all, they help to organise the organisation, bringing order to the various little quirks that come up as the result of being made up of living, breathing people with their own ways of doing things.
Indeed, businesses are encouraged to ensure that their processes and iron-clad - and nowhere is that more obvious than in the IT department. Organisations want their IT departments ISO certified, which means they need to be audited on how compliant they - and their users - are when it comes to the processes that have been set in place.
Certainly, there's a lot of good that can come about as a result of setting in place proper processes and policies. And IT is more often than not the enabler when it comes to implementing processes. After all, most corporate policies and processes these days come about due to the adoption of a new type of ERP, CRM or workflow management system. And, on the whole, IT departments across the region do a fantastic job of implementing these new solutions, and educating users on how the improved processes can help them with their jobs. But what happens when the processes are at odds with how employees work?
Mobile working is a classic example of this. When it comes down to it, many employees find that they can complete basically all of their tasks using a laptop, or even just a smartphone. By extension, that would suggest that they could do their work from anywhere. And yet, due to corporate policies, most employees in the Middle East are still forced to clock in at the office, and work from there. Usually, this is enforced by the company not providing remote access to core applications and corporate services - i.e. it's enforced by IT, at the request of the managers.
Now, this isn't entirely IT's fault - after all, if you've been given a directive from management, what can you say? But think of how much time an employee could save by not commuting to work, by being able to jump straight out of bed and get cracking? Again, it's not IT's job to put things like remote working in place, but it's certainly within IT's remit to explain to management that remote working can be made possible, and that it might prove more effective from an employee productivity point of view.
The issue is being made worse by increased concerns around security. C-suites around the region are fretting over the high-profile attacks that keep coming up. As a result, they're putting in place ridiculous policies that take no stock of how employees on the ground work, and the IT department has to pull the trigger.
The point I'm getting at here is that, yes, IT is there to implement the policies and processes put forward by management through clever use of technology. But when management makes rash decisions, the consideration should first and foremost be how IT can enable the company's employees to do their jobs most effectively. IT should advise management on how new policies will affect workflows, and should encourage research into how people actually work. After all, greater employee productivity benefits the company as a whole - including IT. As a result, the best IT departments will view themselves as a service, rather than as an enforcement agency.