Now I may not be very good at knitting itself but I do know how to focus on what I do best.

The phrase ‘stick to the knitting’ was popularized by Tom Peters in his book In Search of Excellence.  It means staying with the business you know so you can concentrate on that company and build it up to be the best it can be.

You use an accountant for your books, a mechanic for your car and you expect a chef to cook your food if you go out for dinner. So why should this be any different when it comes to your IT?

But many smaller businesses have a haphazard approach towards IT – even though it’s one of the most important aspects of day-to-day life.

The simple fact is you are good at what you do, and your IT manager or IT provider is good at what they do.  It seems crazy to try and do something yourself when somebody else will do a better job in less time and for a lower cost.

But unfortunately this is a problem we come across a lot.

There is nearly always somebody within a business that knows a little bit about IT, always there to give an opinion.  But if you have a member of staff with enough time on their hands to play around with doing your IT, what impact is that having on their main job?

Two years ago I had a meeting with the operations manager of a local estate agent. They had a dozen sites and employed about a hundred people.

This operations manager was spending two days a week trying to manage the IT but had no formal training and no prior experience.  Digging deeper this person was controlling the IT because they felt threatened in their main role. Looking after the IT was about job preservation.

You can spot the issues right away:

  1. The operations manager is looking after themselves rather than the best interests of the business.  You have a conflict of interest and a loss of transparency.
  2. The business lacks the right expertise to manage the IT behind a 12 site 100 person business so it is going to have issues and inefficiencies galore.
  3. Your operations manager is either being inefficient in their proper role, or you have a person filling a role that doesn’t need to be there.

So having a technology partner that is an extended part of your team is essential for maximising the value you get from your IT.

Sure it’s going to require an investment for this type of partner, but is it going to cost more than an inefficient operations manager? No. Your business can only gain.  Stick to the knitting and the rest of your business will follow.

What are your experiences?  Have you worked (or do you work!) in a business where somebody pretend knowledge of IT is letting the business down?