Most firms understand that technology is a necessity to running a business, but not all IT projects and products are implemented effectively. Hey, we all make mistakes. It’s the ability to learn from those mistakes that can make or break us. That’s where a Technology Committee can help.
A Technology Committee is a group of people that provide leadership, planning and coordination for a company’s technology needs (including computing, telecommunication, security and technology in general). Forming an IT Committee is an excellent way to support your firm’s IT strategy and prevent mistakes from happening. But more than that, a committee will ensure a coordinated, well thought-out effort for current and future initiatives.
When members from different roles and backgrounds come together to discuss priorities and make decisions, your firm benefits from more informed and sustainable decision making. In short, your firm will be more successful.
Functions of an IT Committee
The purpose of an IT Committee is to evaluate technology needs for the firm as well as their usage. The committee should track technology progress and prioritize initiatives, in addition to identifying training needs, budgeting and overall IT forecasting. Additional functions include:
- Review and approve plans for major IT projects and decisions
- Provide strategic planning and input on firm projects. Note this does not mean managing the specifics of technology projects, which should be up to the IT Director.
- Provide input on the financial resources allocated to technology. Note this does not mean approving specific hardware or staffing decisions, which should be up to the IT Director.
- Communicate technology issues to IT management
- Stay informed of major projects and initiatives and communicate information to end-users as necessary
- Address budgeting (equipment, software, training, etc.) and overall progress of initiatives (past and future)
Note, the IT Committee does not direct the IT department, rather, they should represent the administrators and end-users of the firm.
Who Should Be On The Committee?
A Technology Committee should consist of members/employees across multiple departments. Having multiple job functions involved helps to better evaluate how changes may impact the firm as a whole. Examples of roles that should be involved in the committee are; partners, office administrator, CIO, IT support manager and third party support (if applicable). Of course the size of the firm will also impact how many members are appropriate.
How Often Should the Committee Meet?
How often a Technology Committee should meet depends on the size and needs of the firm. A recommended guideline would be to have monthly, quarterly and annual reviews. The agenda for each of these meetings should be different, however all topics being discussed should be established ahead of time. During these meetings thorough notes should be taken for anyone that was not able to attend as well as for tracking purposes.
What are Some Common Mistakes?
One of the most common mistakes is coming up with a plan and not communicating the plan or the progress being made to the rest of the team. Another common mistake is spending too much time on activities that aren’t moving the company and project forward, such as finger-pointing or lingering over failures. Focus on progress, not perfection. Discuss what accomplishments have been made since the previous meeting and focus on moving the group forward to positive results.
Typically firms that have tech committees and follow these recommendations are more efficient, productive and have a lot less “surprises” when it comes to costs/budget/etc. They rely on technology just as much as on people. Having individuals engaged with the newer technology and ensuring you have a well thought-out plan will surely make your firm more successful.