How to Survive a Management Audit

How would you fare if auditors walked in the door tomorrow morning and started scrutinizing all your processes, policies and procedures? Here are descriptions of several types of audits and four tips for making your management audit less stressful.

This is a test. Which of the following are common occurrences during IT Management Audits?

1. Staff members quit.

2. Staff members break down in tears in front of the consultants.

3. Staff members fly into a screaming rage at the consultants.

4. Staff members lie to the consultants.

5. Staff members refuse to cooperate.

6. All of the above.

If you selected item 6, you get a gold star! There is no reason for any of these behaviors but they occur all too often, especially in organizations in which audits are not routine events. The consultants are there to identify problems and help improve operations. They wouldn’t have been hired if everything was peachy keen, but Information Technology management and staff members rarely see it from this perspective. Identifying the problem is the first step to recovery. All Information Technology organizations should be managed as if an audit is imminent. How would you fare if auditors walked in the door tomorrow morning?

Why are you being audited?

There are many reasons for conducting audits, but following are the four I encounter most often.

Regulatory compliance audits

In market sectors such as Financial, Behavioral Health, Medical, and Pharmaceutical, periodic audits are the norm and the guidelines are clear. In any given year, a Behavioral Health clinic in NY State, for instance may be required to undergo 4 separate audits including Medicaid, HIPAA, OMH (Office of Mental Health), and OASAS (Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services). In many of these cases, the auditors show up unannounced or on very short notice.

Compliance audits aren’t technically management audits, but the scores on such audits are certainly a direct reflection of management’s performance. Would your policies, practices, procedures, and documentation measure up to the scrutiny to which a Behavioral Health clinic is subjected?

Performance audits or ‘What’s wrong with our IT operation?’

Often, members of the IT management and staff think they are doing a spectacular job but the customers and executive management disagree vehemently. In the worst cases, end users are preparing their pitchforks and torches in case the audit doesn’t bring about some positive performance outcomes. These audits are tough; the IT staff is defensive and they all assume that the consultants are there to fire them. Sometimes, the hostility reaches levels that make me feel like Patrick Swayze’s character, Dalton in the 1989 movie Road House. I have been accused of cherry-picking information, interrogation, and cross examination and I have been screamed at in front of a large audience. The truth is, I am simply researching a complex problem and I will work diligently to provide answers to the people who are paying me to do so.

During these audits, employees sometimes resign even before the final report is released. This is unfortunate because poor performance is a reflection of management rather than staff. At other times, excellent employees leave because they have had their fill of ineffective management. Frustrations become bitter tears dripping on the conference room table, even from managers.

New management

Sometimes, incoming executives want an X-Ray of organizational performance and requesting an audit is an intelligent professional move. They want a clear distinction between the previous management’s practices and their own and they use the final report to establish a program of organizational change.

IT is too expensive

Occasionally, IT audits are conducted because executive management considers the IT operation too expensive. They want an independent audit and a strategic plan that shows all the viable options.

4 tips for a lower stress audit

If the auditors are coming next week, there probably isn’t much you can do to improve the outcome, but there is plenty you can do to make the process more comfortable for everyone involved.

Answer binary questions with binary answers

When questions requiring a Yes or No answer are met with lengthy explanations, it is a clear indication of a problem. When I ask if you have documentation of your daily security log validation, just say yes or no! If you don’t have the required documentation, no amount of explanation is going the help. Also, I am not really interested that you are going to begin implementing your security program next month. Good for you, but I only care about what your actual practices are at the time I ask.

Don’t lie, embellish, or bury information

I always walk into audits and assessments taking a neutral, objective stance and I appreciate clients who don’t try to pre-program me. I will selectively ask for evidence or documentation for every statement you make and false statements will certainly damage your credibility. When subjects provide evasive or ambiguous answers, my inner Columbo puts on his trench coat. Equivocation and rationalization drive me to keep searching until I get the answer. Just tell the truth.

Instruct your staff to cooperate politely

I recall one compliance audit where a staff member served up every document request with a plate full of anger and hostility. The odd thing about it was that all her ducks were in a row, which is pretty unusual. So, why the anger? Don’t unleash it on the consultants.

I remember several engagements where the IT staff tried to tell me that their IP addressing schemes and Visio diagrams were secret. Huh? As soon as I retrieved my jaw from the floor, I went over their heads and arranged for delivery of the requested information. These events created suspicion and hostility that weren’t required.

In two organizations I contracted with, staff members claimed their Security Policies were secret! How does that work? These sorts of behaviors are indicators of significant departmental and organizational problems.

Prepare documentation in advance

All documentation including policies, procedures, infrastructure documentation, logs, hardware and software inventories, PSA system reports, etc. should be readily available for the consultants. They will ask to see it. I generally ask for all this information before I go on site for the first time and I am always appalled by the number of organizations that have none of the documents that are generally accepted to be components of a solid Information Technology Governance program. Sometimes these data dumps include reams of irrelevant information in the hope that I won’t find the smoking gun.

Auditing for organizational culture

I include a frank assessment of departmental and organizational culture in my reports and it is sometimes less than flattering. Delivering this information to executives and managers generally creates a tense silence while they try to chew and swallow that particularly tough piece of meat. They rarely argue because they know it’s true, but few have dared to state the obvious out loud. A realistic and objective assessment of company culture is required to address the root causes of problems. Bad management, inefficiency, malfeasance and incompetence have often been enabled for years before an audit is finally initiated. Interdepartmental politics, turf wars, jealousy, meddling and backstabbing all contribute to the problems at hand and managers throughout the organization are responsible.

In many cases, executives and managers have worked in large, bureaucratic organizations for their entire careers and they can’t see the signs of broken company culture. They think bad behavior and dysfunction are the norm.

The final report

If the final report is not a testimonial of glowing praise for your IT operation, I urge you to sit back and reflect carefully before lashing out. The report is a mixture of data, facts, and input from your coworkers and end users. I always base part of my conclusions on both formal and informal interviews with end users and managers from every department in an organization. What ends up in the report is a reflection of what your colleagues really think about your operation. My career started with a four-year stint in army intelligence and I actually do cross examine and interrogate. The natural inclination of some IT Directors is to argue and pick apart every statement and conclusion in the report, but this is definitely the wrong approach.

A nearby local government entity with which I am familiar recently received a failing audit from a state regulatory agency. It wasn’t a first-time fail and the endemic problems have been simmering for decades. Several executives from this entity made statements to the press that the audit “was a gotcha audit. It’s all about paperwork and there is nothing real here. We’re providing excellent services.” Talk about denial! I believe they will come to regret those statements since the infractions were extremely serious and they will likely have to return millions of dollars to Medicaid. They may call a missing signature “a gotcha,” but Medicaid calls it fraud. Their culture is so broken that they really need a turnaround expert and complete replacement of the management, but they haven’t reached rock bottom yet, apparently.

In recovery

The correct response to a failing audit is to contemplate the report carefully and develop a proactive remediation plan immediately. Humility may save your job, but you can’t step off onto the recovery road until you admit you have a problem.

Ask for help. Operations that have been dysfunctional for years can’t be turned around overnight. Organizational culture may inhibit a turnaround and objective, external assistance may be required.

Listen to what your colleagues and objective auditors had to say and take it seriously. Don’t go swimmin’ in denial.

This article was originally published in CIO as part of the IDG Contributor Network. Want to Join?

About the Author


Source: How to survive a management audit | CIO

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Source: Welcome to HR Tech Magazine! – HR Tech Magazine

Within Every Priority Lies a Challenge

Written by Orit Honigsberg | Originally published at Qwory blog.

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How well do your challenges match up with your priorities?

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Orit Honigsberg, CMO at Qwory

I’ll speak for myself – though I think many people would agree with me: The things I want to achieve the most, and are most important to me (and the most rewarding, ultimately), often have the biggest hurdles, or require the most effort.

This can be summed up in a simple statement: If the road is easy, you’re likely going the wrong way. Or, as Gandhi said, “Your struggles develop your strengths”.

The point I want to make is that the link between struggle and achievement is natural. What you most wish to achieve, you’re probably also most willing to work for.

Here’s a little exercise:

List your top 3 goals.

Now, rate each one from 1-5 for priority (1 being low priority, 5 being top).

Then rate the level of challenge each presents from 1-5 (1 being easy, 5 being very challenging).

You’ll probably draw interesting conclusions about how your priorities and challenges relate to each other.

MarketingSherpa did a survey about B2B marketing with this method.

You can examine the order of preference for B2B marketers – what they consider top priority, and the order of the remaining goals. You can analyze what they perceive to be the biggest challenge. Or, you can try to identify the reasons for the discrepancies between priorities and challenges in certain cases.

How about we do all of the above?

Let’s start with the top priority: Lead generation.

Lead generation in B2B marketing is the process of a company’s initiation into a business’s products or services. Leads generally come from the internet, but they can also be a result of external referrals. Usually, a lead consists of the necessary contact information to make the steps towards a sale. Social media is a common platform to gain leads, as most companies are active social network participants these days.

It’s clear enough why this is the top priority: Leads → sales → revenue → $$

But there are, of course, challenges in trying to attain it.

The B2B lead gen struggle generally comes down to problems in a company’s marketing technique, ranging from finding relevant leads to doing the right kind of follow-up.

What is the biggest challenge (and also happens to be the 2nd highest priority)?

Converting the leads into paying customers. (I repeat: leads → sales → revenue → $$.)

In other words, the most two most important things for B2B marketers is locating relevant leads, and making sure they become fruitful connections.

I thought it might be interesting to take a closer look at the two strongest correlations.

The closest gaps in priority and challenge – what I just referred to as the strongest correlations – are Lead Qualification and Scoring, and Lead Nurturing.  These are the B2B marketing objectives that are almost in equal part priority and challenge.

If you look back at the statistics at the beginning, Lead Qualification is actually slightly more of a challenge than it is a priority! Leads which suit your specific needs and score accurately online are hard to come by. That’s often due to the fact that search engines don’t re-index and re-classify their data as frequently as they should; your best business information might get a little lost in the shuffle.

Lead Nurturing is vital, because it puts you on your potential client’s radar. But it’s also time consuming. Social media engagement is an efficient method for this – but you have to locate each company’s page on multiple platforms.

How can we widen the gap? How can we make sure that our challenges don’t hinder us in attaining our top goals?

Qwory is a solution that targets these issues directly, the exact issues that the research points to as the biggest B2B priorities and challenges. Qwory’s USP is its unique ability to guide the average SBM to find, engage with, and connect with customers. This method helps transition distant leads into paying business customers.

As a business-focused search engine, you can efficiently find relevant leads with a simple keyword search. Qwory combats the issue of lead nurturing by showing all of the company’s contact information next to their search result, so you can engage with them easily.

Once a customer engagement improves, so will their likelihood of sales. Curata’s 2014 tactics study showed that 76 percent of marketers saw an increase in buyer engagement as a direct result of content marketing.

And in terms of lead qualification and scoring, Qwory has an independent database, and indexes more than 1 billion active web pages monthly.

Seeing that challenges and priorities often align -statistically- seems intimidating.

But there are ways to minimize the challenge, ways to lessen the struggle. Both in B2B marketing, and in your daily life.


Source: Within Every Priority Lies a Challenge – Qwory

On Flirting and Why It’s Good for Business

Written by Orit Honigsberg | Originally published at Qwory blog.

What is the relationship between social media and e-commerce and how does it impact sales? Find out where to focus your social media strategy and why!

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Orit Honigsberg, CMO at Qwory

People are becoming increasingly aware of the correlation between successful e-commerce and the use of social media.

What do I mean?

Social networks are critical in generating interest, traffic, and ultimately revenue for businesses of every size.

Today, your businesses’ social profile is responsible for the same type of advertising as those giant storefront displays from a few decades ago. What’s even better, is that social media marketing is mostly free of charge – and stands to gain a whole lot more exposure.

Picture a dating profile on Match.com. A successful personal profile means a detailed personal description that gives insight into your character. It will be complete with pictures, and give you an authentic and favorable vibe. A profile is often measured by the amount of views or successful connections it results in.

How does one progress towards a real connection in the online dating world? Naturally, after you identify a profile that interests you, you want to start engaging with the person behind it. You’ll shoot a message, have a few conversations online. If things progress, you’ll chat on the phone, maybe Skype, and eventually meet in person to establish a more personal bond.

Apply this to the B2B e-commerce world.

B2B sales are about business matches: finding and engaging with the right profiles that have the potential to result in a long-term relationship.

Let’s say you’re looking to sell your unique emerald rings to jewelry retailers in the United States. You can do a simple search on Qwory, a B2B search engine, and you’ll come up with a list of potential suppliers that want exactly what you’re selling. With Qwory, you can easily access all of the social media accounts for each site- the value of which I’ll explain in a moment.

Here’s an example of a result on Qwory for emerald ring:

qwory-search results

On the left side, with one simple click, you can access all of the businesses social accounts. Like their Facebook page, follow their Twitter account, and connect on LinkedIn to get the ball rolling.

Call it business flirting. Social media activity with a potential customer is parallel to phone calls to your potential Match.com soulmate. You’re warming them up, letting them know you’re willing to invest in them, and establishing the foundation for a relationship- whether personal or business.

Where should you focus your attention? Check out the statistics. The picture below is an expression of social-generated revenue, to show which social media platforms make the biggest impact in e-commerce.

social media and ecommerce-revenue

Other benefits? Social media is a portal. It’s important to be where your customers are, to know their habits and likes and dislikes. Gathering information about the market will dictate the marketing strategy for a company – and of course, make it that much more successful.

Also, the ease of answering messages makes for better customer service. These responses will help gain a loyal following. You’ll be able to predict behavior for the target demographic and respond accordingly. If you’re on a companies’ radar, they’ll be that much more likely to respond and be open to your business proposal.

Some stats to drive my point home:

why social media matters to b2b buyers

There is simply no denying the connection between e-commerce, B2B lead generation, and social media. It might seem brazen to “follow” a CEO you’ve never met, or tag a well-established company in a post… but this is the future of marketing. The Internet has collapsed the hierarchy and etiquette that once was.

The question is whether or not you’re going to take advantage of this seemingly less conventional approach.

Qwory’s slogan is Search. Engage. Connect. – because we recognize that the success can hinge on prior engagement.

Search for your match online, and start talking! 😉


Source: On Flirting and Why It’s Good for Business

You Can’t Define a Digital Native by Their Age

Written by Mary Sue Rogers | Originally published at Save HR blog.

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Mary Sue Rogers, globally recognized leader in HR and Talent Management, owns blog at SaveHR.com

We hear the term digital native on a frequent basis. And the CHRO receives a lot of input on how to make the systems and process of HR fit for a digital native. And the assumption is that a digital native is one that grew up with the Internet, smartphones, Facebook and similar. But is that the definition of a digital native? Or is a digital native more a state of mind and how you reach and use the technology around you? The latter is the theory put forward by Constellation’s researcher Alan Lepofsky – Segmenting Audiences by Digital Proficiency.

As I am not a paid up member of Constellation I can only get the abstract, and then supplemented that with the Bill Kutik’s Firing Line interview with Ray Wang. I am sure the full paper is excellent based on the summary.

So Alan’s premise is that how knowledgeable you are in the use of digital tools and how comfortable you are in using them determines your level of digital proficiency and therefore whether you are a “digital native”.

Like all good consulting models – it starts with a four-box model that is Y axis of Comfort and an X axis of Knowledge. And like all four box models – the top right-hand corner are individuals who have lots of knowledge regarding digital, they are good at it, and they want to use it. The bottom left-hand corner is those that are not good at it and don’t want to use it. You can fill out the others.

And then based on these characteristics, Alan has developed names for the various types of digital users.

Natives – the top right-hand corner.  Know how to use the technology and enjoy using it. Not an age definition but one of knowledge and comfort.
Holdouts – the bottom left-hand corner – those individuals that don’t want to use technology and don’t like doing it. Again I know people at a wide spectrum of ages that meet this definition.
Immigrants – these are individuals that want to be good at it but are not there yet. They are comfortable with the technology and want to learn. My mother-in-law at the age of 80 would fall into this category.
Disengaged – those that are good at it but don’t want to use it. I know many individuals in this group, especially millennials.
Voyeurs – Those that wander between the various quadrants depending on their mood and the subject.

If this segmentation is used instead of the one described digital natives instead of age – then perhaps we can be more focused on what type of employees we do have, and what is the right thing to do for our business around digital, social, learning and culture.

Constellation Research recommends using a combination of a person’s knowledge and comfort level with technology, a characteristic referred to as Digital Proficiency.

Read more in Who Are the Real Five Generations in the Workplace? Bill Kutik‘s article on the subject, posted on Human Resource Executive Online.

Image – Word Cloud created by Marc Prensky.


Source: You Can’t Define a Digital Native by Their Age

Welcome to HR Tech Online! | #HRTechOnline

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The future is now! Does your job position name already includes ‘digital’?

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Source: Welcome to HR Tech Online! | #HRTechOnline – HR Tech Online

The HR Tech Weekly @ Your Service | Annual Report 2015

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The HR Tech Weekly was newly launched on October 19, 2015 and within less than 2,5 months became a full-fledged digital ecosystem including the weekly digest, official blog and cross-linked accounts in major Social Media.

The entire network connects 6 026 people and companies, generated 2 862 posts, reached by 10 478 753 readers by the end of the year.

The HR Tech Weekly mention reach index during that time was 1 052 720. We also gained 3 511 501 views of the curated content.

The major source of lead-generation was Twitter, followed by Google+ and Facebook with huge separation. It is explained by that was a strategic decision to concentrate our activities on Twitter while leave other sources in the background for the time being.

The majority of our Twitter followers live in the USA (48,2%), around one third live in Europe (19,1% in UK, and 10% in other European countries), 5,5% live in Canada, 5,1% in Australia, 3,4% in India, and 8,2% in the rest of the world.

Our official blog got 53,7% of all views from Russia, while Twitter account 0,5% only. 23,1% viewers came there from the United States, 4,8% from Great Britain, 10% from other European countries, while 8,5% from the rest of the world.

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The gender separation at all the sources is almost equal with 50% of men, 49% of women and 1% of those who did not specify this attribute.

Our audience is split by age as following: 23% 25-34 (15% women, 8% men), 44% 35-44 (22% of each gender), 21% (8% women, 13% men) of 45-54 years old.

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The HR Tech Weekly @ Your Service | It’s Our Birthday Guys!

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The HR Tech Weekly celebrates its’ 1st Birthday say 1st month of presence at the web today. It was hard but somehow productive and surely inspiring month. We gained 1.1K followers on Twitter and +1K subscribers of our blog, 171K mention reach and 1.74M users that have seen our content. We occasionally found ourselves in Top 10 #‎HRTech Influencers on Twitter among recognized industry leaders, and even fought against smooth hacker attack. The last we treat as a kind of compliment for sure.

We would like to thank you all and everybody who supported us and have believed!

Those who did not have a chance to read us yet please keep the following credentials in mind.

The HR Tech Weekly is publishing selective content from Social Media within HR Tech, HR, HCM, Future of Work, Recruitment, Job Search, Talent, Leadership, Innovation, Digital and Startups.

The HR Tech Weekly makes the world better through ongoing sharing the best demonstrated practices and disruptive updates from global opinion leaders within hot areas of mind.

The original content can be added on demand after the editorial preview. If you have something to say to the world on the relevant topics please feel free to contact us. Your article will be published at our sources and distributed via Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook audience and by subscription.

Please visit our official website to start your journey with us.

Read our digest to get the recent updates and subscribe for the free weekly newsletter.

Find us at Social Media:

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You may either like our official blog.

Check out our blog for weekly highlights and editor’s choices. Please have a look whenever you have a minute, and subscribe!

See you in the cloud where we are always at your service with disruptive updates!

Sincerely,

The HR Tech Weekly Team

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