This blog is the first entry in Sofbang’s on-going blog series, The IT Leader’s Pain Management Guide. Each week, we’re exploring one of the top challenges facing IT managers, directors, CIOs, CTOs, and other technology leaders, diagnosing each problem in full and exploring the industry’s most popular and effective treatment options.
Diagnosing the Pain – Why IT Managers Don’t Have the Talent They Need
First-level IT managers are tasked with getting a lot done. From overseeing daily support for employees and customers to maintenance of a software portfolio and even complex integration issues, it’s easy to feel like the priority list is pulling you in more directions than you’re equipped to handle.
That management task is becoming increasingly challenging for IT leaders, as streamlining for profitability means locked headcounts for more and more IT departments across the country and world. Many managers find themselves in a new kind of talent crisis: they have the superstars and workhorses they need to create a great department, but there are so few other team members under and around those difference-makers that their potential impact is limited.
A locked headcount can easily land an IT department in a Catch-22 scenario, where the teams within the department are unable to deliver projects on time or keep up with the pace of initiatives and deadlines, but additional talent cannot be added, even though it’s exactly what the managers closest to the work know they need.
Pain Management Recommendations
As someone charged with supporting that first-level IT manager and setting them up for success, you need to find ways to either (1) reduce your core team’s workload without reducing the quality of the customer or employee experience or (2) find ways to bring in the extra talent you need to meet deadlines and bring projects home without breaking your headcount.
So, basically, you need to create extra time or extra people out of thin air. No big deal, right?
Kidding aside, in order to support company growth and success in streamlined, locked-headcount scenarios, IT must have a well-articulated approach to how they will close their talent gaps to guarantee success. Moving forward, we’ll look at some of the ways creative IT leaders are leveraging emerging technologies and the expertise of leading IT solution providers to support their team and build a culture of excellence.
A locked headcount can be extremely frustrating when you know that just a few more assets with the right skills could be the difference between feeling stretched thin and feeling flush.
As a manager who sees the work from day-to-day, you probably have a good sense of your team and know exactly what skill or knowledge gaps exist. Maybe your team is outstanding at certain things but has clear weaknesses. Maybe your team is skill-rich but needs the right project leader to bring them together. Maybe your team is caught in a loop and needs an outside voice to shake things up and get them thinking in a new direction.
Here’s the good news: you absolutely can connect with those professionals on an as-needed basis without breaking your headcount using Staff Augmentation services. Staff Augmentation allows you to bring on additional assets when you need them, using money from your operations budget rather than bringing them onto payroll.
Many leading IT providers offer Staff Augmentation services, in which they connect you directly with experienced members of their internal teams who have the topic- or goal-specific knowledge you need to close gaps on your team and get things done. By working with an established provider, you can be confident you’re getting the high-quality talent you need without the expense, time, and lost productivity of the traditional hiring process.
Staff Augmentation works because it is timely, it is targeted, and it is results-oriented. Staff Augmentation provides you with talent exactly when you need them, whether it’s adding manpower as a deadline approaches or beefing up a project team for a set term. By connecting with exactly the knowledge and skillset you need along with a proven track record, you can also plan, work, and report to your superiors with greater confidence in success.
Chatbots for Self-Service
Chatbot AI is another emerging technology innovative IT leaders are leveraging to support their internal teams. If Staff Augmentation creates people out of thin air, Chatbots create time for your core team out of thin air.
If you’re in IT, you’re probably at least familiar with the idea of Chatbot self-service by now, but to put it briefly, Chatbots simulate a text- or speech-based human conversation to help customers and employees achieve things they previous required human support for, such as navigating technology challenges or accessing customer service information. Thanks to advances in machine learning over the last few years, Chatbots can achieve a great deal, and they only get better and faster at what they do over time.
With a locked headcount, day-to-day tickets and dependencies can feel like an assault on your ability to manage projects successfully, keep everybody focused on big-picture goals, and achieve deadlines. Chatbots are an ideal way to block out the noise and distraction of the low-level service requests that eat into your IT professionals’ time and productivity.
Using Chatbots, you can deflect minor or straightforward service and support issues away from your core team while still providing a highly satisfying level of service. In this way, a Chatbot support strategy actually benefits everyone, as IT is empowered to focus on what is most important, while other employees and customers get a lightning-quick self-service experience that smoothens their customer journey and increases worker productivity.
What’s the first step?
If you’re overseeing an IT department that you know is currently limited by skill or talent gaps, the first thing you need to do is build a deep understanding of exactly where those gaps exist, what they look like, and what you need to sew them up. Your colleagues in finance and HR can be useful resources and allies in that work, but an outside perspective from an IT consultant can also be valuable.
With the right consultant, you can bring in a voice that has seen IT success and struggle in organizations of all sizes and shapes and has already created the tools you need to diagnose and begin to treat your biggest pains. Once you have a clear picture of your exact needs, you can begin to fill in the gaps using Chatbots, Staff Augmentation, and other innovative methods to drive IT, even in the face of a locked headcount.
Enterprise IT Pain Management from Sofbang
Sofbang is one of the industry’s leading system integrators. We help IT executives in asset-intensive industries fight their day-to-day fires and leverage evolving technology to provide measurable increases in workforce efficiency. We’ve spent the last two decades building a proven and impactful team of project leaders, developers, architects, and other experts who have the collective skills, knowledge, and enthusiasm necessary to solve just about any IT challenge. If you’re a tech leader experiencing pain, contact Sofbang today, and we’ll set you up with a free Tech Enablement and Goal-to-Value Realization Blueprint session to help you describe, diagnose, and treat your daily pains.