What’s “Broken” in IT Operations?

What's "Broken" in IT Operations

Managing IT Operations can feel like fighting an uphill battle. From ensuring the security of sensitive data to implementing new software solutions, the IT Operations team is expected to juggle a number of tasks at any given time. As such, many of these teams struggle to manage tasks and meet deadlines—not always because of performance issues, but due to the overwhelming nature of their line of work.

In this post, we’ll look at what’s negatively impacting IT Operations teams from meeting their goals and expectations, as well as how these problems can be addressed and corrected before turning into bigger issues—cited from the popular eBook: Using Kanban for IT Operations.

Why IT Operations Teams Struggle to Meet Goals

In today’s tech-driven landscape, IT Operations acts as the beating heart of any successful organization. Whether it’s improving customer service or delivering software solutions that enhance workplace productivity, the IT Operations team plays an active role in implementing technology in the workplace and ensuring the production environment is running smoothly at all times. In other words, IT Operations have a lot of duties to perform.

For many team members, working in IT Operations feels like a never-ending battle. On any given day, team members could be asked to perform the following tasks:

  • Addressing security vulnerabilities in the system, like fixing invalid security certificates and preventing Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.
  • Performing routine maintenance work to ensure all processes are running smoothly.
  • Implementing new software solutions to help sales and marketing teams communicate more effectively.

Unfortunately, it’s extremely common for IT Operations teams to be inundated with work. And when teams are overloaded, they must prioritize tasks from least to most important. As a result, teams spend more time focusing on critical issues like security and maintenance, while completely neglecting performance-related tasks like introducing new software platforms and optimizing existing technology.

This, in turn, creates an ongoing scenario where IT Operations is too busy “fighting fires” to focus on implanting new technology. Hence the reasons IT Operations teams are often stereotyped as under-performers.

Operating in a Broken System

The biggest challenge that IT Operations teams face is striking the balance between production environment stability and product and service delivery. As it stands right now, most operations teams devote most of their resources to ensuring stability that tasks related to products and services are significantly neglected. This causes friction in the workplace as other departments believe that IT Operations are unable to meet their obligations and places an unfair burden on the operations teams as they take on larger-than-life workloads.

But even putting in longer work hours doesn’t necessarily guarantee IT Operations teams will meet their performance goals, especially when unplanned work arises. And unplanned work happens more often than you might think, in the form of security breaches, server outages, and critical production issues, just to name a few. This makes it nearly impossible for the teams to accurately estimate their capacity and resources available to complete projects.

Most IT Operations teams agree that mismanaging capacity is one of their most common pain points. And this isn’t because IT staff aren’t good at project management, but because the fast-paced nature of their job makes it almost impossible to manage manpower and resources. [block quote]

Pretend you’re the manager of an IT Operations team and you’ve just been asked to roll out a cloud-computing platform that will enhance the way departments collaborate and manage projects. Since you’re wrapping up a project and have the resources to take on this initiative, you agree and start working on the cloud platform. All of a sudden, you’re flooded with unexpected challenges. A technical issue is causing productivity to come to a grinding halt, an error in your security system has left your company vulnerable to data breaches, your payment gateway is not processing customers’ credit card information. These road bumps continue to occur, consuming all of your time and resources. And before you know it, the deadline for that cloud-computing platform is quickly approaching and you don’t have the capacity to finish the project. This is a scenario IT Operations teams are all too familiar with.

How do we prevent this scenario from happening without ignoring the maintenance and repair issues that arise?

Is There a Solution That Optimizes Project Management?

IT Operations will probably always be a fast-paced, demanding line of work. After all, the IT department is responsible for building and maintaining the framework that the rest of the organization is built on.

The good news is that working in IT Operations doesn’t have to be stressful and disorganized. Something as simple as the Kanban method can go a long way in helping you prioritize your projects and manage capacity. That’s because Kanban makes it easier to track project phases from start to finish, so that you always know who’s working on which projects. This, in turn, adds additional structure and organization in your project planning and executing phases, in addition to making it easier to keep track of capacity and resources—all of which go a long way in preventing IT Operations teams from becoming overwhelmed and understaffed.

Stay tuned for our next blog to learn about IT Operations and how you can implement a project management strategy that fixes this “broken” narrative.

Or better yet, download our eBook, Using Kanban for IT Operations and learn how you can avoid making the mistakes mentioned in this post.

Maria Harper

Maria Harper is a demand generation specialist at Planview focusing on PPM solutions and French and German marketing. She is passionate about data-driven marketing and enjoys applying analytical insights to creative messaging in order maximize marketing potential. She graduated from the University of Missouri with bachelor degrees in German and Journalism.