Here are six tips to improve IT productivity
1. Update the IT operating model
- Start by determining how and where IT adds value to the enterprise.
- Adjust operations based on the ways your organization needs to work. Agile teams for instance, structure differently than traditional or product/service-centric staff.
- The best way to implement this model is by fully understanding what your organization is trying to do — its value proposition — and what it delivers. “Use that insight to determine what IT needs to look like in order to accomplish those goals; it will give you a strong starting point in restructuring your IT organization,” Howden says. “It will also help you identify gaps or opportunities that may require new IT capabilities.”
An updated operating model will pave the way to maximum productivity by ensuring IT is fully committed to supporting organizational needs and is aligned to the Velocity of your team and its ways of working. “Productivity that isn’t aligned to producing organizational goals is of limited value,” he notes.
2. Consider a matrixed, cross-functional approach
Many IT organizations are taking a matrixed approach to productivity enhancement by creating dual reporting structures. The first, a hardline reporting structure that focuses on domain and career growth. Meanwhile, a secondary dotted reporting line focuses on day-to-day work activities and value/business results within a team that’s aligned to a specific business capability.
“Individual productivity is mostly addressed in the secondary reporting line, focusing on product/business-oriented delivery in small, cross-functional teams”.
Team-based performance and productivity measures instead of attempting to rely on individual performance, which tends to be hard to measure and does little to influence effective team operation or business results. “This allows teams to have a persistent business value focus and to manage the demand for a specific stakeholder group, resulting in a more direct response that is managed by the business in terms of priority”. Rather than vying across multiple priorities, the team focuses on a single stakeholder group and therefore their response time and productivity is much higher for that stakeholder group.
Within the team itself, the most effective and efficient individual worker can be placed on the highest value task, resulting in enhanced team efficiency and continually improving productivity. “It also provides incentive for the team to learn each other’s tasks so that when the most efficient individual for a task is unavailable, others can effectively step in and overall team productivity suffers less,” Chowning says. “This approach also promotes teamwork, since all members of the team are incented to support all tasks and can remove the burden of career progression competition among team members"
3. Go for no-code
Embracing no-code development can open the door to a nimbler IT department, one that’s more efficient and responsive to ongoing enterprise needs. “Using no-code tooling allows delivery teams to accelerate the adoption of integrated capabilities that provide rapid prototyping, enabling the creation of working software in just hours,”. It presents real possibilities to transform an idea from concept through prototype to deployable business functionality within a very short timeframe — hours not days.
While citizen developers and traditional software engineers share generally equivalent base skills, the in-depth technical knowledge that a software engineer needs to use traditional development platforms isn’t required for no-code development. This allows for a wider range of people within an organization to be productive in delivering capabilities.
4. Build IT-business alignment
Examine your organization’s talent base and create teams that reflect a diversity of thoughts, skills, and perspectives. By aligning in this fashion, you can collaborate with different business areas and understand what they need to be successful.”
Lead not just from a productivity standpoint, but to collaborate across the entire enterprise. “We partner with leaders throughout the business, whether it’s HR, finance, or any other department, to better understand the people, processes, and technologies that are in place,”
A collaborative alignment benefits the entire enterprise, making it more agile and efficient. “For example, if you want to meet your business’ recruitment needs, understand how the HR department searches for talent, attracts people, and keeps them engaged throughout their careers,” he suggests. “Once you understand the value stream, align your IT organization to best meet each department’s needs.”
Maintaining an open dialogue is the key to a thriving IT-business alignment. “The ability to have difficult conversations with your stakeholders to ensure you collectively achieve the outcomes the business requires is essential to the success of the project and the organization,” This goal is reached by creating a team that possesses diverse viewpoints. “If your team consists of people who all think a certain way, you will not get the back-and-forth flow of ideas or conversation that leads to better solutions,”.
5. Eradicate unnecessary meetings
Stop scheduling standing meetings. Make asynchronous updates and discussions the default,”.
If there’s a dozen people sitting in a meeting, listening to each participant present a five-minute project update, the meeting would last about an hour, consuming 60 hours of the organization’s human resources, she explains.
Most educated adults can read information at least five-times faster than listening to orally presented reports. “And that doesn’t factor in that when you’re reading you can skim and skip over things you already know,” she notes. Combine that truth with the fact that most speakers fail to express ideas in a manner that’s as organized as written information, and it’s easy to see why meetings — both on-site and virtual — are productivity killers.
If, instead, every meeting participant wrote a brief report, Woolley estimates it would take everyone less than 15 minutes to read all of the reports, or a total of three hours of human resources expended. “And if you factor in that maybe people spend 20 minutes writing their update, each person only spends a little over half an hour total, versus an hour.”
6. Build a multifaceted IT department
IT organizations are hiring more business- and industry-focused employees. Although these employees might not have a computer science background, they understand how IT impacts the business and also have insights into the industry.
To keep pace with evolving business trends and needs, a diversity of thought is necessary. “Many enterprise IT organizations have established practices of rotating rising leaders into business units so that they can better understand the pressures that the business is under,”. The most beautifully architected technology solution will have zero credibility if business teams don’t buy into it.
IT leaders need to become masters at engaging their own organization, as well as business units, from leadership on down. “The most successful CIOs understand people, the business, technology, and things well beyond their control, like environmental, societal and political trends,”.