How to Manage IT Complexity and Increase Innovation
Tips and tricks for fighting through the drag of difficult IT work, and encouraging employees to give it their all every day!
Join the DZone community and get the full member experience.Join For Free
Complexity is often cited as the nemesis to success in information technology. This is why principles such as KISS (keep it stupid simple) resonate well in the IT community. Who doesn’t favor simplicity?
What if the desire to avoid — or inability to handle — complexity leads to costly missed opportunities in business? Opportunities that, when managed and faced head-on, will increase innovation and create true business differentiation.
Let’s face it, IT is inherently complex at its very core. IT impacts nearly everything about our business, and in many ways, our lives. So, it makes complete sense IT professionals would want to simplify what is already a very complex challenge.
But with technology comes opportunity. It is often those decisions to tackle the most difficult and complex business problems through technology that allow some to come out ahead. With that in mind, here are four guidelines to manage complexity and increase innovation in business.
- A strong, strategic, architecture supported by a stable foundation is required to successfully manage IT complexity. To achieve the best results in complicated projects such as improved systems integration, workflow, automation, or all of the above, the IT fundamentals have to be aligned, scalable, and in very strong working condition. You simply can’t afford to start the gate with problems when seeking to add layers of complex workflows and IT processes into the mix.
- Don’t spin too many new initiatives at once and make sure you finish the ones you start. One of the quickest ways to have technology unravel for you and cause pain to your organization is by juggling too many initiatives or simply not finishing the last 5%. New ideas are the lifeblood of innovation, you should nurture, embrace, and prioritize them accordingly; but don’t get distracted. If everything is a priority, then nothing is. Don’t forget, the last 5% of a project can consume nearly 95% of the effort because it is often the most important step to ensure stability and success for the long term.
- Tackling complex IT challenges requires an increased level of discipline, execution, and communication. The importance of attention to detail cannot be understated because what may be deemed as minutia in a simple, non-complex IT system quickly becomes unyielding to long term growth and scalable, automated systems. Items such as naming conventions, change control, and following standards is exacerbated the more complex the IT environment becomes. In summary, cutting corners is more costly with complexity. It’s best to know your players, their strengths, weaknesses, and overall motivations to ensure you have assembled the right team of characters to complement each other’s collective weaknesses to produce the best results.
- Proper team planning, collaboration, and involvement from those closest to the problem are super important guidelines for managing complex IT initiatives. Contrary to the common stigma of the IT professional “ego” no one individual is ever the smartest in the room. Complex problems are the most appropriate time to poll the audience, specifically to ensure the best solution is discussed and designed thoroughly. Too often IT managers or directors exclude end-user(s) or employee(s) that are closest to the problem simply because they are deemed non-technical. This leads to bad decision making and often complex projects coming to life without really studying the best possible solution, or, in some cases, stopping to truly get to know the root cause of the problem for that matter.
Embracing technology to solve complex problems can be a competitive advantage in so many ways. Whether leveraged to create differentiation and a competitive edge within the market, increase employee satisfaction or drive organizational efficiencies, there is a right way to introduce and manage complexity within IT.
To address complexity, organizations need access to a broad range of IT capabilities. Companies have 3 choices: 1) build an internal IT team, 2) augment their internal team with external resources, 3) outsource the management of their IT. Many organizations, especially small and midsized businesses, use managed IT service providers (MSPs) for IT augmentation or outsourcing.
The best Managed IT service providers embrace the complexity of IT. They have in-house resources across all IT disciplines, and IT management automation systems, that enable companies to reap the rewards of IT while taming the complexity. The use of the guidelines provided here to tackle complexity head-on and simplify IT management can pay off with accelerated innovation.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.