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Tag: "information technology"

How Internal Pressures Can Implode an IT Organization

Implosion1Last week, I talked about some of the organizational mindsets that lead to misalignment within an IT team. This week, I’ll look more closely at some of the specific pressures that can cause problems for the team and impact IT team performance. These are based on some of my own experiences in my role as an Architect.

Team Silos and Lack of Communication

Larger IT organizations often contain splintered groups that focus on either specific functional or technological areas. These groups can easily become silos. This can result in redundant efforts and solutions, dissimilar technologies, or disjointed entry points for business requests. More importantly, these silos may not easily communicate, inhibiting collaboration. Probable result: If a technology group makes changes and deploys, they run the risk of clobbering another team’s systems. Usually, they won’t know about it until production issues arise. The teams are neither in alignment on technology, people or process. This has the potential to bring progress within the IT organization to a standstill.

Pressure to be Bleeding Edge

Have you ever witnessed a technology team adopting new technologies for the sake of being bleeding edge? This desire to be bleeding edge is another factor that can cause pressure on the IT team. There are certainly many cases where new technology solves problems and creates additional efficiency. But what about the team that wants to utilize a new technology only for the sake of playing with new technology? It may perform the same function as the current technology, but just does it in a different way. Is there any value in that?  Does it help attract talent? Can it be adopted and integrated without any additional effort? Does it position the team to becoming more nimble? Does it align with long-term objectives of not only IT but the organization as a whole?

If some members of the team answer “yes” to these questions and some answer “no”, then the use of some new technologies can cause misalignment on the IT Team.  They may either have conflicting agendas or may just be out of alignment with how they need to accomplish the task-at-hand.

Teams That are Always Stretched

Stretching from time-to-time can be very healthy. It keeps a team aware of their limits and capabilities. It also helps a team to gel and rally around an effort that has a sense of urgency. Then, during the non-stretch times, it allows the team to think strategically, place more focus on refactoring which will allow it to scale for the next stretch. On the flip side of that, a team that is never stretched can have morale issues and may not deliver value at the velocity that is expected. But while the resulting atrophy isn’t healthy, teams that are always stretched are in worse condition. Stretching can result from task overload, following an antiquated process, working with unfamiliar technologies and working toward an unrealistic goal.

In any of the situations above, design and development decisions are usually made with the highest priority being: “Get this pain away from me as quickly as possible”. Decisions consistently made in this mode, usually create technical debt. If an IT organization consistently resorts to short term fixes, it compromises its potential and future progress and we begin to see implosion at the organizational level — not a sustainable plan.

What are some of the pressures has your IT team faced recently?

Next…

Next week, I will delve into some of the approaches that can be used to rectify these situations or prevent them from happening in the first place.