Building a Successful Technology Team
By Sandra L. Wiley, Boomer Consulting, Inc.
A crucial element to success in technology is leadership and making progress towards established action plans and goals. You might think that I am going to talk about the Managing Partner or the Technology Partner’s role in the process, but you would only be partially correct. In the area of technology, one person does not make things happen. It must be a team effort. In many firms you will hear this group referred to as the Technology Committee. I like to refer to it as the Technology Team. The reason I like to say TEAM is that team refers to a unique blend of individuals who are working together for a common purpose. That is what your firm will need in order to make valuable progress!
Technology is very important to a firm’s ultimate success and since it is the 2nd largest expense item in your firm, you need to build a team that will make smart decisions.
Is your firm ready for the challenge of building a highly productive and forward thinking team? If you are, then read on!
The first step in building your Technology Team begins with the selection of the members. You might be saying to yourself, that’s easy. Just use everyone who is directly involved with technology in the firm, including the Technology Partner, Managing Partner, CIO or IT Director, Network Administrator, Technology Consultants, Help Desk Personnel and Technology Trainer. While all of these individuals could be excellent candidates for the team, I would challenge you to develop your team with the following individuals in mind:
- Technology or Managing Partner – This person is vital to success. They must have a technology vision for the firm! Notice that I did not say they had to be “technical”. They must be able to visualize the benefits or end results desired from the information technology system. This person must have significant authority with the firm, as they will have to justify and defend both the technology expenditures and cost recoveries that directly impact the bottom line.
- End Users – These individuals are critical to the success of the team. They will have input from their point of view, which is the actual working knowledge about how processes occur. Many significant issues can be discovered and addressed at a staff level.
- Integrator (Administrative) – The role of this person is to take and distribute minutes of meetings, to oversee the steps involved in completing action plans and to ensure that deadlines are met. This person is also the liaison between the owner group, end users technicians and outside vendors and facilitators.
- Technician – This is your top Techie! This is the person who has the hands-on knowledge of technical issues and will give you the expert advise you need to make good decisions. It goes without saying, if you don’t have this person, you won’t make much progress in your efforts.
- Facilitator - This is the person on the team that is to sit back, listen to the discussion and help the team come to a successful decision. They work as the mediator between all the groups and bring heated discussions to a logical conclusion. This does not have to be a person from inside the firm; it can be an outside, 3rd party that is well respected and trusted by the firm.
Now, up until this point, the criteria for being on the team are the job duties that a person holds within the firm. That is certainly a good starting point to making a choice for who is on this team, but it is far from being the ONLY judgment you should make. Just because someone holds the right job title is no indication that they can work together in a cohesive and productive team. This is going to have to be a VERY diverse team in order to be successful. You need someone who will be a visionary, someone who will be able to maintain an orderly agenda and schedule times for projects, someone who will be responsible for researching solutions to various problems, or maybe even someone who must create products and services that will assist the firm and the firm’s clients. WOW – what a job! Is it possible for a group of people to really get that many different tasks completed? Of course, but you must be selective about who you pick to be on the team. Not only do they have to be motivated and excited, they must be the right fit for the team. So, how do you determine who will or will not work together efficiently?
At Boomer Consulting we have found a great tool to assist you in this important step of developing a highly productive team. It is called the Kolbe TeamSuccess™ Program. If your firm does not have a technology team now, an experienced facilitator will look at various members of your firm and will help to identify the individuals who would make the most productive team. If your firm already has a technology team in place, the facilitator will look at each member of your current team as well as the team as a whole and determine if there are instinctive stresses that must be evaluated and dealt with. I know what you are thinking, what in the heck are “instinctive stresses”? Let me explain.
The Kolbe TeamSuccess™ Program first looks at a person and determines their personal mode of operation. These observable behaviors will fall into 4 distinct modes:
- Fact Finder – Based on the instinctive need to probe, Fact Finder behavior related to the way we gather information.
- Follow Thru – Based on the instinctive need to pattern, Follow thru behavior deals with the way we organize information.
- Quick Start – Based on the instinctive need to innovate, Quick Start behavior is how we deal with unknowns.
- Implementor – Based on the instinctive need to demonstrate, the Implementor mode related to the way we seek tangible solutions.
All members of the team are evaluated to see what their unique gifts are. Then, the real power of the tool begins. The Kolbe TeamSuccess™ Program looks at the expectations of the team and then compares it to the realities of how a person works. There are several different tools that are used to determine three distinct areas within the team:
- An individual’s personal instincts – if they were free to be themselves
- The individual’s view of their current job – how they need to perform
- The leader’s view of the individual’s job – how will they reward for the position
Once the comparisons are made, a professional facilitator works directly with the team to explain the unique talents of each team member, identify areas of stress and strain and outline a plan of action to overcome any differences identified. Solutions can be anything from simply adding another person to the “mix” or making some changes in responsibility within the team. The most exciting thing about TeamSuccess™ is that once you have the right team in place and functioning at an optimal level, there is no task you cannot accomplish!
Once the right people are in place, the team must meet on a regular basis. I suggest that you begin by meeting weekly until you have task forces established. Then, you can move to meeting monthly as a complete team. During these meetings the team is responsible for looking at the technology goals and objectives that they have set out in the technology plan and budget. The team will evaluate and address the progress of the various task forces to ensure that the action plans are completed on a timely basis. The team should coordinate an annual review to update the plan for the next year and to evaluate and celebrate the accomplishments of the past year.
Your challenge is evident. With the right team in place, you can accomplish great things in your firm. With the wrong team in place, you will not move forward and eventually, you will fall behind. Take up the challenge today; start building the team that will bring your firm technology leadership for a more productive and successful future.
By Sandra L. Wiley, Boomer Consulting, Inc.
Sandra Wiley is the Director of Marketing with the organization of Boomer Consulting, Inc. located in Manhattan, Kansas. Sandra’s focus is in the area of marketing, training and sales. Prior to joining Boomer Consulting she was the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at FirstBank in Manhattan, Kansas.
Sandra has been with Boomer for 6 years. She is a certified Kolbe™ trainer and assists clients in hiring and building teams within their management and technology teams. She also assists in the facilitation of several of the Boomer Technology Circles and is a key team member at the annual training symposium. She has been in the Strategic Coach Entrepreneurial Team Program for 6 years and is responsible for communicating new ideas to the staff.
Prior to joining Boomer she has worked for over 16 years in the financial services industry in the areas of human resources, marketing/sales, training, and business development. She has developed and presented over 50 training programs and numerous one-day seminars in the human resources and marketing/sales areas. She was an officer of the American Institute of Banking and presented classes on “Selling Bank Services” and “Customer Service Plus” programs.
She has published a number of articles in the areas of personnel, sales and marketing in the CPA Industry and is a contributing author for “The Boomer Advantage…Successful Technology Consulting”. Her awarded winning marketing plan titled “Rebuilding the Community Bank” was published with the Bank Marketing Association.
She is a graduate of Friends University, in Wichita, Kansas, with a bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management and also graduated with honors from the University of Colorado School of Bank Marketing.