”Bridging the Gap Between Technology and Practice Management.” If you’ve received an email from me you’ve probably seen this tagline in my signature. We use it to describe what we do at Boomer Consulting, Inc. and in the Boomer Technology Circles. It’s so much more than a tagline though, it is a concept that is critical to the success of any business. Aligning business and technology strategies is much easier said than done but it is worth the effort. It can transform I.T. from a "cost of doing business” to a "strategic asset.”
Too often, the I.T. department simply takes direction from the partners about what technology needs to be implemented. Since I.T. isn’t familiar with the firm’s strategic plan, it is difficult to identify solutions and make suggestions to help the firm achieve its strategic objectives. This is an incredible waste of talent and knowledge that could be providing valuable input into the firm’s strategic direction. The norm is for I.T. professionals to go to their training and conferences and the partners go to theirs. It’s completely separate. The topics being discussed in each of these venues may overlap but too often the messages that are delivered are miles apart. This leads to a major disconnect between what each party is hearing. Compound this with the fact that a debrief is rarely conducted to make sure both sides are on the same page and you end up with people moving in different directions.
A Better Way
What if partners and I.T. professionals attended the same event and heard the same message? It’s a simple concept but quite powerful. Each party will take away their own conclusions and ideas but they will have at least heard the same thing. This opens the door to further discussion to better understand the different perspectives. What if, beyond hearing the same message both I.T. and partners heard what their peers were doing to improve their firms? They’d both be able to see real world examples of how technology could improve their firm. Again, both sides would likely view the information from their own different perspective but at least they’d be seeing the same thing. What I’m describing above is the underlying premise behind the Boomer Technology Circles. Get a group of partners and I.T. professionals in the same room and discuss the most relevant technology and practice management topics facing our industry today.
The benefits are numerous but some of those most mentioned by our BTC members include:
- Accelerate alignment of the I.T. strategy with the firms’ strategic objectives.
- Partners and I.T. professionals gain a better understanding of top issues by hearing the same message and discussing immediately.
- Learn new ideas and pitfalls to avoid by collaborating with peers from firms across the country.
- Gain confidence that your firm is headed in the right direction (or the wrong direction).
- Ability to benchmark firm performance against other leading firms based on financial and technology metrics.
- Access to key business partners at a high level, not just at the sales level through the BTC Vendor Sponsor program.•Dedicated time for partners and I.T. to talk outside the office.
- Access to key business partners
I.T. Does Matter
Thus far, I’ve primarily focused on aligning business and I.T. strategies by hearing the same message from outside parties. Equally important is making sure that they’re both hearing the same message within the firm. How can I.T. effectively support and execute the firm’s strategic vision if they don’t have input into the planning process? The short answer is they can’t. This is why it is critical that I.T. have "a seat at the table.” There is a reason most businesses have technology professionals on their internal staff. It’s because they offer a skill-set, knowledge and perspectives that are different from what most accountants possess. These should be leveraged and not ignored. I’m not suggesting that I.T. has all the answers but they do have valuable information that could go unheard if they are not represented when it comes time to set the strategic direction of the firm.