As the digital revolution continues personnel inside the IT organization are on the front lines in efforts to make the tech-centric strategies of the business become a reality. For companies running on enterprise infrastructure, the challenge becomes managing productivity between an ever-increasing array of new technology initiatives while simultaneously attending to the support and maintenance of legacy systems. While increasing headcount could help ease this balancing act, the budget for IT operations hasn't kept inline to the hunger for new technology for most companies.
Tighter operational budgets coupled with an under-appreciation for the actual time and effort it takes to keep legacy systems running results in many enterprise IT organizations running too lean on manpower, often struggling to simply maintain the status quo, let alone deliver successful outcomes on the growth and transformation demands of modern business. So with workloads backing up and no budget for additional staff, where does this extra productivity get squeezed from? Perhaps a closer look at how we're utilizing our existing resources is the key.
One of the most effective and often overlooked methods to optimize work output is through the establishment of a strategic delegation program within your IT organization. Strategic delegation is a work-management process which can quickly and significantly increase the productiveness of in-house personnel. This strategy has been working inside companies for years, albeit under different monikers - most famously being that of pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer, who established their own strategic delegation platform labeled PfizerWorks.
Along with its ability to combat bottlenecks which inevitably arise during large scale projects and seasonal business cycles, strategic delegation is also shown to positively impact return on investment of new initiatives, along with reducing strain and fatigue on existing team members, improving overall job satisfaction.
Engaging with strategic delegation begins with taking a closer and more pragmatic look at the individual tasks being executing within the IT environment. First identifying and then assessing the real impact of each:
Is the task contributing to the outcome of a growth or transformative goal, or is it simply a required function of the status quo?
Is the task sensitive or urgent, requiring the talent of an in-house, senior resource, or does it cause distraction as it occasionally pops up?
Appreciating the myriad efforts which combine to keep complex IT systems operating, and then examining their true benefit in relation to where the business wants to be, is key to strategic delegation. This objective awareness to the daily efforts of IT personnel is also critical to unlocking the additional productivity the business currently needs.
As it stands today, the vast majority of companies already partner with at least one technology services provider to manage some component of their IT operations. Whether it's the support of the network, ERP applications, help desk functions, backup and storage services— companies benefit from their provider's efficiency, reliability and scale to execute the given services at a lower cost than they could themselves. But these benefits only extend as far as the scope of work initially defined in the agreement— usually to support and deliver a singular function or specific set of activities. Yet the service provider's pool of resources likely has the abilities to execute a much larger array of tasks, even those outside of what the vendor actively promotes.
Considering that an investment has already been made to securely establish a remote connection between in-house systems and your services provider, and assuming processes are in place for continual communications and ongoing alignment between both parties, half of the effort for enabling a strategic delegation program is already in place. All that remains is taking an innovative view to the boundaries of your relationship and expanding the scope of services your partner can provide.
By combing through the IT functions which remain under the responsibility of in-house resources, the customer can identify additional tasks, which are outside of the scope of the original agreement, but can be easily passed off to the outside partner as they do not require any advanced skill beyond some initial knowledge transfer and process training. Through this, the customer is able to extend the benefits of their service partner relationship into additional areas of the organization's IT operations.
What IT task get delegated will vary by your specific organizational needs and your partner's overall capabilities, but generally speaking, tasks best targeted for delegation are those routine, recurring-type efforts which are often a byproduct of existing systems and efforts to "keep the lights on". Often, it's these lower value, or "chore tasks" which cause distraction to your senior IT specialists or must be executed in off-hours when system demands are nominal- both of which can have detrimental effects on your employees and the work they deliver.
Once a new delegation framework has been laid out, each member of the internal IT organization who regularly contributes to new technology initiatives should assess their ongoing workload, prioritizing activities based on their correlation to the strategic initiatives of the business. This review process in itself can help streamline processes, and possibly eliminate some non-essential tasks which have built up over time. From the remaining workload, those tasks which do not directly impact long-term objectives, require immediate intervention from in-house specialists, or aren't walled off due to a regulative or sensitive nature, can be sent through the delegation channel on an as-needed basis.
It's this as-needed quality which is the power of a properly established delegation program. When demands are high on the IT organization, additional tasks can be transferred to your delegation partner, ebbing and flowing to match current business needs, only shifting back to in-house resources once demands have subsided. This agile approach to using a services partner allows your key IT knowledge workers to dynamically pivot time and attention away from maintaining the status quo, placing energy into better planning on strategic initiatives with quicker, more successful outcomes of the higher value tasks which drive business growth and transformation.
While strategic delegation can benefit other areas of the business, applying this work-management approach inside the IT organization is optimal, as the majority of executables have clear objectives, measurable outcomes, and can easily be performed remotely. As technology demands are spreading throughout all areas of the business, establishing a strategic delegation program with an IT service provider is an effective way to speed up delivery, reduce bottlenecks on in-house talent and reinforce the ROI of new technological investments.