IT managers put a lot of effort into ensuring that their systems work as quickly and efficiently as possible. With technology now at the heart of many business strategies, slow and poorly-performing solutions can be a serious hindrance.
However, many companies still struggle with a variety of bottlenecks that can prevent them from reaching their full potential. While some of these can be traced to issues such as outdated technology and connectivity that can be remedied by modernizing equipment and applications, there are also many operational and process-related issues that can create slowdowns and problems - and these may be more difficult to solve without significant changes in the way the IT department works.
Here are a few of the most common causes of bottlenecks. How many of them sound familiar to your organization?
1. Complex governance
Overbearing bureaucracy can slow down the workings of any part of a business, and IT is no different. The governance committee sets the tone for everything that the department does, and if this is slow-moving and ponderous, that will filter through to every project. The more people involved in IT governance, the slower things will go.
According to CIO.com, any more than five members will see activities "slow to a crawl" as it becomes impossible to build consensus - and this situation will be worsened if members are representing business interests outside of IT.
2. Manual provisioning
Today's technology allows businesses to secure resources from the cloud very quickly. Depending on their needs, they may be able to provision a complete environment in just a matter of minutes. So why, then, do so many businesses continue to insist on getting their IT operations teams to build their environments manually, from scratch, which may take many months?
Automation has come a long way and is now a hugely capable option for businesses of all sizes and types. Continuing to rely on manual provisioning is more often than not a choice rather than a result of technology limitations. Cloud providers have become very good at managing the technology, so there's really no excuse for not taking advantage of this.
3. Continuing to ignore shadow IT
Shadow IT continues to be a source of concern for many businesses. While it's certainly true there are risks associated with shadow IT, making efforts to clamp down on it too aggressively could backfire.
After all, there's a reason employees and business units are turning to these solutions - because they work better than the approved technology. So instead of banning it completely, look to support it and bring the most effective tools into the formal IT environment. You might well find it's more efficient.
4. Too much multitasking
With IT departments always busy, and the demands placed upon employees rising all the time, it may seem inevitable that people will have multiple projects on the go at the same time. But this can be a serious barrier to efficiency.
Studies suggest every interruption for software development leads to 15 minutes of lost productivity, so if employees are constantly having to shift their attention elsewhere, this quickly adds up. Avoiding multitasking may be a challenge, but if you actually need to get a project done quickly, it's essential.
5. Focusing too closely on costs
Total cost of ownership is a big buzzword for many IT leaders, but too often, there's an assumption that cutting costs automatically leads to better results. But all too often, reducing costs translates directly into less functionality.
It's relatively easy to cut out capabilities that aren't deemed essential, but ultimately, what you end up with is a more limited environment that isn't flexible or agile enough to meet the needs of today's business. Many of the benefits of strong IT are difficult to measure on a balance sheet, but if they go, you're sure to notice the difference.
6. Aiming for perfection
The natural instinct of many IT departments is to plan for 100 per cent solutions, where every conceivable scenario is planned for and built into the development cycle. But often, all this achieves is more delays, as more requirements and contingencies are built into the system.
It takes as long to code a solution for a case that only occurs in one transaction in 1,000 as it does for one that crops up every 100 occasions. In these rare scenarios, it's more efficient to have a human step in and take over than spend time developing automated solutions that will gather dust 99.9 percent of the time.
Therefore, make sure you're prioritizing only the most likely situations and, importantly, learn when to let things be.