“A year from now you'll wish you started today" — Karen Lamb
The problem: When demands on the IT organization extend beyond the output potential of existing team members, there has typically been 2 approaches to address the shortage in productivity:
1. Hire additional resources to offset the manpower shortage
2. Ignore the need altogether and expect the existing team to deliver the workload themselves
Before we solve the problem, we need to understand what is causing it. Here are 3 common causes:
Digital transformation is innovation. So in this new version of IT, innovation is required, but keeping current systems running is expected just to be in the game. Strategies like splitting the organization into two or more teams, one focused on running current systems and one focused on innovation and transformation, are lofty and difficult to sustain as most IT organizations simply do not have the resources to do so. More typical is that the same in-house talent is responsible for both sets of efforts. Unfortunately, day to day operations don’t come in nicely scheduled time frames and your IT team is ends up continually distracted by maintaining the status quo. New technology initiatives become delayed, riddled with issues or shelved altogether. In order to avoid delay the IT organization must rely on overtime just to make some limited progress on their range of objectives.
Between the time-driven customer responses, the growing demand for digital transformation projects from the business, 99.999 up-time guarantees for the system, and a multitude of maintenance needs for the entire environment, IT resources have their days filled with continual distractions. It's understandable that IT leadership is on a lookout for women and men in capes with a big "M" for Multitasking emblazoned across their shirts. But it turns out, these multitasking superheroes may not really exist.
Although 50% of us think we are good at multi-tasking the reality is that at most 2% of us are truly effective at it. The rest of us are just fooling ourselves. The most common type of multitasking is referred to as task-switching. This occurs when work on a project must be halted so attention can be shifted to the immediate needs of a service task or production issue, only then transitioning back to the project work once the immediate need has been addressed. Our minds are not effective at these instantaneous shifts. Each task-switching event may cost us 15 minutes or more to get back to full productivity. These interruptions have been shown to make IT resources 40% less effective than without them. On its own multitasking on its own has been found to increase stress levels, and continual drops of productivity require more hours to make it to the same level of progress.
Quite often maintenance tasks, code deployments, and other IT tasks need to be executed during non-business hours or weekends when there is minimal risk to the business. In aggregate, the work may not be enough to staff with off-hours or weekend resources, so it’s usually done by the same staff that works standard business hours. Even if the task executed is not long in duration, it can mean the evening or weekend is taken over by work. Off-hours and weekend work is leading contributor to the stress and negative impacts on the personal lives of in-house IT resources.
Pains of digital transformation
If left unchecked digital transformation can result in stress, fatigue, and eventual burnout of higher cost, specialized personnel, along with an increased potential for additional costs due to delivery delays and workmanship errors.
A total of 73% of IT leaders said they were either the most stressed or among the most stressed in their social circle. These stresses also result in more overtime work. Almost 50% of the respondents work 48 hours or more per week. Only 5% reported working the standard 40 hour week.
The resulting stress and continual overtime not only affect their work performance but also lead to a serious negative impact on their personal lives, as shown in the graphic
Hiring additional manpower to correct the IT productivity problem isn’t always the best option.
Its ineffectiveness becomes apparent when the aggregate total of additional manpower needed isn’t enough to justify costs of another full-time employee, or when the total manpower shortage does justify the hire, but one team member doesn’t possess all the skills required to adequately assist. This also doesn’t take into account the costs of hiring a full-time resource either, which including recruiting, onboarding, employment packages (medical, vacation, sick time, etc.), and government liabilities, can easily top $70k in the first year for a single new member.
Prioritize attention towards specific objectives by offloading ancillary tasks
Instead of a predefined cost and quantity of work, tasks are offloaded on an as-needed, case-by-case basis, generally with no additional costs outside of the actual work effort performed. This allows the service to continuously parallel the current demands on the IT organization and fill in productivity shortages when they occur. In addition, most ITaaS partners provide their customers access to multiple skill sets and offer 24/7 availability.
Assess the current/recurring workload within the environment
This allows tasks that regularly cause distraction and take away time from the higher value priorities can be identified. These activities are primarily distinguishable from the tasks needed to support or maintain existing systems (status quo), and those which drive growth or transformation (transformative).
Get the most from your digital transformation initiative
Quickly and succinctly address manpower shortages
Expand availability and tap into a variety of skills that go beyond the capabilities of a single resource
Limit exposure to the upfront costs of a full-time hire until sustained workload demands justify the need
The more successful your business is, the more successful you are
Isn't that the ultimate goal?
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