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The #1 business owner tech trap: Abdication

It's never easier to abdicate.  Try delegating instead.

It's never easier to abdicate.  Try delegating instead.

After working with thousands of business owners, I've learned that most tend to abdicate - they largely avoid - the technology in their business. You might be thinking "not me" either because you always have the latest iPhone or iPad or because you spend lots of money on new computers for your company.  But that has nothing to do with it.  You may still be abdicating, and if you are, it's one of the single most costly mistakes you can be making.

To abdicate means to avoid something, either through delegation to someone else, or hope that it'll just be OK. In business, abdication happens for only two reasons:

  • You don't want to deal with it
  • You believe you can't understand it

What exactly are you abdicating?  It's simple. Here are some example questions to ask yourself:

  • When was the last time you reviewed a data preservation (backup) report and received positive confirmation your data is safe and recoverable in the time frame you expect?
  • Do you know all the potential ways someone could gain access to your business electronically, and are the passwords strong?  When was the last time the passwords were changed?
  • Are all the services you're paying for really being used? How many accounts of former employees are active?  Have they been disabled or do they still have access to the system?
  • How much of your monthly service costs is going toward issues that could be prevented through training? What if the issues are with the same employee over and over and require different intervention, not a technical (and costly) one?

I remember recently getting engaged with a customer who hired us to manage their IT.  One of their users, I'll call her Candy, constantly complained to the HR Director that her problems with her computer and her iPad weren't getting fixed.   We discovered this during the initial assessment walk-through. This was a major concern to the HR Director because it constantly sucked up her time.   At least 4 hours per week of email, calls, and this employee stating she couldn't do her job.  

Because I won't allow abdication, during each service we reviewed with all the users at the beginning.  Candy tended to always have an issue that needed to be addressed.  It was addressed and resolved through training, validated by Candy herself. When she complained the third time, we didn't even get a call (at least not until later).  Candy was confronted by her manager, holding a stack of TechRoom service orders. Her manager didn't have a hard job at all.  The only question asked was "Candy, I see you had this problem before, and that you verified these steps worked to access the server. Can you show me how that works?".  Candy demonstrated that she could, and then she timidly stated that she must have made a mistake- it wasn't an issue after all.

Prior to this event, the employee had used about 4 hours per month of technical service time.   At the prior service provider's rate, that totaled $7680 per year.   Did the service provider ever escalate the issue to the business owner or their manager?  No.  It was far easier to just apply service hours to the problem, resolve it, make the issue go away.   

At what cost?  $7,680

Keeping the owner- in this case his designated manager, the HR Director, in the know, helped resolve an issue that previously was seen as a technical one, but was actually an management issue.   

Abdication isn't just the business owner's fault, even though the business owner pays 100% of the cost. Service providers and technical consultants usually don't address technical matters in a holistic business perspective. And when most business owners abdicate, they usually assume the most technical person in the office is the qualified one to "deal with it", when the most techie person usually has no idea what it is they just signed up for.

If you really want technology to "perform" for you, as measured by happier and more productive employees, happier customers and increasing profits, you need a technical service that understands how to help you delegate technology and keep you involved and in control as a business owner.  

Done right, good technical service gives you visibility and control without taking up much of your time. Not done, if you abdicate, the hidden costs skyrocket under your nose until you notice it in a crisis mode.