Banks and credit unions of all sizes experience some level of turnover or unexpected absence that can affect internal positions. When the IT administrator role is impacted, it can cause the most disruption, especially for smaller community institutions, as many have limited resources and may rely on only one employee in the role. When an IT administrator leaves, he or she takes with them the institutional knowledge and expertise gained through working with the FI’s unique IT infrastructure and network management processes. To lessen the impact, it’s up to the institution to effectively build continuity into its IT strategy and pay attention to the strategic decisions being made by the IT team.
In a recent Safe Systems webinar, we discussed the importance of continuity in IT and ensuring effective management of the network through transition periods. In this blog post, we highlight three key areas of focus to achieve continuity and keep the institution operating efficiently.
1. Strategic Decisions
We have seen financial institutions fall victim to the “power of one”, where the IT admin has all the knowledge and authority to make IT strategic decisions alone. Then when they leave, the rest of the institution doesn’t have a clear view of what’s been done to the network and how to properly maintain it.
Some IT admins prefer to try new technologies and add more automation to the institution’s processes. While others might stick to their comfort zone and not push for new IT tools. While it’s important to provide an appropriate level of autonomy to the IT admin, it is critical to also have a system of checks and balances in place and to examine the benefits and consequences of these decisions closely to ensure the institution has the right tools to succeed .
2. Strategic Management
For IT personnel to be successful, it is important to outline what your institution wants the IT admin to accomplish and let them know what success will look like when they achieve these goals. Some key questions to consider include: What are the desired outcomes you’re expecting from IT? Is the goal to spend their time and budget on efficiency projects, redundancy projects, or security projects? In other words, what is your tolerance for downtime, security risks, or ineffective and slower processes? How will these goals be measured?
Once these expectations are established, the IT admin should be given the freedom to do what they need to do to achieve the institution’s goals but there should also be a clear chain of command to provide oversight and to evaluate their work.
You do not want to let an employee’s expertise (or lack thereof) impact your technology or for the institution’s security to be affected negatively. Define clear objectives for your IT personnel, whether that’s uptime, recovery time objectives (RTOs), redundancy, budgeting, or specific controls you’d like to have in place to ensure the institution is operating securely.
3. Strategic Plan
Make sure the expectations and objectives you set for IT personnel align with your strategic plan. According to the Federal Financial Institution Examination Council (FFIEC), “strategic IT planning should address long-term goals and the allocation of IT resources to achieve them. Strategic IT planning focuses on a three- to five-year horizon and helps ensure that the institution’s technology plans are consistent and aligned with the institution’s business plan. Effective strategic IT planning can ensure the delivery of IT services that balance cost and efficiency while enabling the business units to meet the competitive demands of the marketplace. The IT strategic plan should address the budget, periodic board reporting, and the status of risk management controls.”
When discussing the strategic plan with management, it’s important to identify the key areas of improvement and provide information on price, level of risk, and what exactly the institution is trying to accomplish. Sometimes having an outside perspective can help push key initiatives along and get them into the budget for the year ahead.
To learn more, download the recording of our webinar, “Understanding The Lifecycle of the IT Administrator: Ensure Effective Management of Your Network.”