Stuck in a quagmire of support and maintenance? We offer a prescription that puts today’s resource-starved IT leaders back to full strength.
Even the most experienced IT leaders can fall prey to VUCA – that is to say Volatility, Uncertainty, Confusion, and Ambiguity. In fact, it is often the CIOs who have been in post over a prolonged period – several years – who will be most vulnerable to the condition. Their close proximity and ingrained working patterns means that they have neither the time or resources to properly plan for the future.
How can the CIO surgery help IT leaders who may be suffering from VUCA?
Identifying the symptoms
So many CIOs are spending far too much time on non-strategic activities, and this leaves them with insufficient resources to define and implement strategy – an increasingly important part of their role. The C-suite knows that technology is the key to taking the business forward, but most are reliant on the CIO to lead the way. If the CIO is out of shape, their advice and suggestions are likely to be unbalanced, possibly making things worse in the long term.
Poor decision-making in the past can result in a tangle of technical issues that tie up leadership time, putting strategic activities on the back burner and delaying the projects that will help the business perform. Without an unwavering focus on improvement of systems and processes, the business risks underperforming and losing market share to more agile competitors.
Some of the most serious symptoms lie in the way information moves (or doesn’t) around your business. Strategic uncertainty can easily result in system misalignment, building inefficiencies, overlaps, and gaps into business workflows. So wherever strategy is neglected (or non-existent), IT systems will bend out of shape, unable to serve the needs of your business.
It’s not just a case of managing technology either. How is your team performing? Do they ever manage to close their To Do list? Or does it grow longer and longer as they battle with the same problems from the same end users over and over? If the answer is “yes”, your current strategy is simply papering over the cracks, achieving very little in the process.
Undoubtedly the most worrying symptom is cybercrime, which can strike at the heart of the business through infrastructural gaps. Consider the enormous damage caused to NHS systems and patient services by the WannaCry ransomware attack for instance.
IT leaders need to realise that the volatility, uncertainty, confusion, and ambiguity arising from too much fire-fighting strips resourcing from the strategic projects that deliver business growth. But how can they alleviate the systems and break out of the fault to fix cycle?
Diagnosing the condition
The demands of support and maintenance are an inevitable strain. Almost every business is now expected to offer round the clock availability, which means improving or upgrading systems to deliver increased resilience. So the symptoms aren’t going to go away without intervention.
IT is the engine that keeps your business moving, supporting operations and providing a platform for new developments. At a time when digital transformation is critical for business survival, it’s crucial to shed light on any uncertainties and confusions that may exist at a strategic level.
Your strategy needs to address the challenges of the digital user. Applying triage to legacy technology is important, but is nowhere near enough to safeguard your business in such a technology-driven era.
The mortal threat is, of course, cybercrime. A strategy to put in place a modern cybersecurity environment is imperative, in order to protect corporate data stores, to maintain regulatory compliance, and to cover measures such as secure storage and backup, data retention, archiving, and disaster recovery.
If resources and time are too tight to act strategically and keep the lights on, something has to give.
Prescribing the solution ‒ IT outsourcing
Partnering with a third party allows you to outsource responsibility for the day-to-day issues that continue to drain a significant proportion of your resources, allowing the partner to deal with many of the system health problems that undermine your infrastructure.
These partnerships are like a private doctor, giving your IT systems the finest care and attention – luxuries your team cannot always provide – without the additional cost. The additional resources also help to de-risk your IT operations by ensuring you have increased capacity to deal with outages, performance bottlenecks, or interim support during upgrades and deployments.
Not only that, you, as a leader, will be freed up to modernise your infrastructure, lightening the burden of support and maintenance over time. Deploying more SaaS and decommissioning on-premise systems will prevent wasted IT expenditure. And the fact that cloud systems are also auto-patched and regularly upgraded will bring you further reductions in overheads.
By choosing an IT partner capable of working as part of the team, the CIO regains control of strategy. And for the first time in a long time, they will have the assistance they need to bring about the change that will help their business to thrive.