As an IT consultant I hear from many customers that they are struggling with staying on top of their projects, while simultaneously planning for the future. Many IT teams are forced to run their employees ragged, and leave off planning until the future when they “have time.”
The concept that you will have time in the future is a dangerous and incorrect assumption, which is making it impossible for many IT managers to get out from under their enormous pile of work. There are a number of strategies I recommend for getting ahead, and turning your IT team into a business differentiator (and not just a money pit).
- Take a deep breath and distance yourself from the problem at hand. It’s highly likely that you can’t do all the work yourself, nor can you do it all at once. So, we need to figure out how to get a handle on it, and choose the right tasks to complete next.
- Work on answering the following questions:
- Why don’t I have enough time to do my job?
- What can I get off my plate that will give me 30 minutes back every day, that I can use toward planning?
- Once I have that extra 30 minutes, how do I best put it to use?
- Once you have an extra 30 minutes, you can start working on your vision for the IT team. Now that you’re ready to start planning here are the questions you need to answer first:
- What is the charter for the IT team? Usually the charter is something along the lines of… The IT team is responsible for the efficacy of tools in the organization that employees use to accomplish their work.
- There may be other responsibilities for the IT team, what are they? Are they clearly defined?
- Once you have a charter defined you need to clearly articulate how your IT projects are helping the team meet those charter goals. Where you’re not meeting charter goals, what are your future plans for addressing those goals?
- And lastly, what is the relative importance of these goals? What is most important to get done first?
- When do you expect the entire list to be completed? 1-3 years from now? Do you even have enough manpower to make that a reality?
If you can get this far in your planning you’ll be well ahead of many IT departments. These are basic skills for planning, organization, and time management that aren’t valued enough in day-to-day operations. Success is not something that happens naturally to people or companies, it requires thoughtful and difficult work to set yourself up for success in the future.
There are many more pieces to this puzzle that I will write about over a series of blog posts, so stay tuned for more planning advice in the future.
Allison Sousa, PEI