Organizations Lacking IT Management Succession Plans Are a Symptom of a Greater Problem

Whether or not you have an IT succession plan has more to do with the ethics and professional confidence of your IT management than anything else.  It is true that some IT organizations are just too busy, but they should never lack a succession plan and basic documentation.  For others this missing information is not by accident or lack of time, but by design.

Having a properly designed succession plan, which requires complete and accurate documentation, for many is a threat to the power held by IT.  This often impacts the CIO/CTO/CSO as well as other executives. They too can be held hostage by their own departments. Unfortunately, IT power often comes from a lack of transparency, documentation and general sharing of what’s behind the curtain. Each employee can create a silo or kingdom that provides job security by simply failing to do their job in documenting and planning for succession contingencies. This provides for mystery and fear instead of clarity and confidence in executives.

Doing a proper succession plan requires confidence as much as competence on the part of those creating it within the IT department.  If IT provides you with the information that you need, in an emergency they can be replaced without trauma and damage to your business. If they refuse, delay or do a poor job, they inevitably instill a lack of confidence and even fear that without them, you will suffer.  In fact, if they are allowed to do this and they do leave, you can suffer serious negative impacts.  I witness this stress and trauma every business quarter.

I know of one case where a client’s senior network manager passed away from heart failure without any warning.  The devastation from his lack of documentation of the network, login names, passwords, etc., was very significant.  In another case, an employee was physically and emotionally abusive to employees and even threatened the company with release their confidential client data if he was fired.  The lack of documentation caused the company owners to subject themselves and their employees to continued abuse that they should never have allowed. In yet another case a senior executive and the CIO left the company abruptly and without a hand-off. That client ended up spending tens of thousands of additional dollars because the prior support staff that left abruptly did not have a succession plan and lacked proper documentation.  Alvaka Networks had to create much of the documentation from scratch, just to be able to support the systems.

If you are at all concerned about the possibility of what might happen if a key employee or even the whole IT department were to leave, you are being underserved and need a new strategy.  A well run IT services department will make it so they can all get hit by a bus, go on vacation, be terminated or walk-out and your company will go on with its business as usual.  No plan eliminates all of the potential pain and temporary uncertainty, but a well documented network with all of the information required for a turnover to new staff or an IT support firm like Alvaka Networks to step in during an emergency can mean the difference between success and failure for a business.  We pride ourselves on smooth transitions not only when a client chooses our services, but also when they choose another IT support strategy.  We make it so a client can leave for reasons from acquisition and new management to financial difficulties. 

If you do not have an IT management succession plan, and/or full documentation of your network, passwords, service providers, online accounts, domain services, software licensing, inventory, etc., you might want to start now, before you need them.  If you get resistance you may want to ask “Why?”  There may be a bigger reason than is seen on the surface.  It might pay to have an independent assessment of your situation and contract for completion of your documentation.  We have some people here who specialize in doing just that.

Let me know if Alvaka can help.  You can call me direct at 949 428-5005 or e-mail Oli@alvaka.net.