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The Technical Enterprise Practitioner (TEP)™

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As IT environments become more complex, technologists and their managers have stepped farther away from trying to understand the “What” or “How” of their technology. Now, the critical skill is to know “Who,” specifically, who are the specialists required for the particular issue of the moment. Even the hands-on IT worker is quickly becoming a contact manager. We will gather half a dozen people on a bridge call or in a conference room to work out a problem. This is fantastic. It is a wonderful example of teamwork and cooperation. Yet, I can’t help wonder--does anyone have the big picture?

This degree of specialization is needed as the technology becomes more complex. But, it is also a serious problem. Without people watching the way all the pieces interact, the entity that is the backbone of our companies--the enterprise network and applications themselves--becomes a tangle of disarticulated stuff, without unity or effective oversight.

For a solution, we can look to other industries that have faced this challenge and developed ways of resolving the problem. One particular industry jumps immediately to mind. Oddly, this other industry is itself highly criticized--but for other problems. The Health Care Industry. (Ouch! Yes...I hear you.) Surely I am not saying that the Health Care Industry works better than our IT Industry. Yup, that is exactly what I am saying. Not their insurance processes; that is a mess! I am referring to their REAL business, the management of your health.

Long ago medicine advanced to a point where no one can know it all. There are specialists of every kind. If you have a problem, you may see many such specialists. But--there is one kind of Doctor that is tasked with keeping the big picture in mind. The Medical Industry knows the importance of oversight and overview quite well and does everything it can to assure that there is someone looking at ALL of you. That Doctor is your Family Practitioner. This also makes them the first stop in determining the scope of a problem--a very useful function that would serve the IT industry as well.

This leads us back to Information Technology. What role in the IT organization equates to the Family Practitioner?

There is none. We don’t have anyone in that role. Our process is to get all the specialists in the room--which again I applaud. Yet, each individual is STILL looking at their individual area of expertise. We do not have anyone making sure that the patient (the Information Technology Enterprise) is healthy. This needs to change--quickly. We are not unique and as much as I take pride in my work, I have to admit that I don’t think that being a DBA, Network Engineer, Software Developer or a Protocol Analyst is par with being a brain surgeon. (I know I will regret that admission someday.) So, if they can do it in their more complex industry, so can we.

I have written before about this role in "The Missing Link in IT Management" and I will write about it again. This is one of the most critical problems we face as an industry.

Currently, the only people that are in a position to get the complete IT Enterprise overview are budgetary and business specialists—not technical specialists. They are unable to utilize their bird’s eye view for the technical betterment of the organization. We need Technical Enterprise Practitioners (TEP)™. This individual (and their team) will be well versed in all aspects of technology, including hardware, software, development, networks, protocols and what is hot (and not) in the world of vendor offerings. They need to be current.

Some companies have explored the role of the Chief Technologist or Chief Scientist. That is a wonderful step to take—more organizations should consider it. However, that person seems to work mostly in the space of future planning, of keeping their eye on the outer industry. We need more of that. Nevertheless, that is not the position I am describing here. Please don't confuse them. The Technical Enterprise Practitioner (TEP) is a very technical General Practitioner. They have the skills to understand any details that are presented to them--plus how those details interact with the rest of the Enterprise. They are also mature people and project managers. They can utilize the big picture to prevent problems, contain costs, improve customer satisfaction, guide hiring and training practices and much more. 

If you are in a position to act on this, you are a senior manager in your organization. Discuss it with your peers. How much of the IT trouble you have had in this last year was resolved in a manner that leaves you feeling secure it will not reappear? Do you know the cost of those problems, or do you only focus on the price of addressing them?

Interpath Technologies Corporation is in the business of providing this service. We can offer a highly capable TEP to fill that role for you permanently or on contract basis. We begin by doing a very thorough health check of your entire enterprise. We will then work to transfer that knowledge to selected permanent personnel in your organization.

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