Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Digital IT Tuning: How to Balance People, Process and Priorities?

In reality, managing multiple people, projects, and timelines is more like the Spinning Plates act.

Due to the increasing speed of changes, the limitation of resources, the scarcity of IT talent, the high rate of project failure and the poor reputation as a business enabler, IT organizations today have to set the right priority, and make trade-off decisions by impact business's top growth and bottom line all the time. While some IT organizations manage IT project portfolios better than others, but there’s a theme out there of project overload in many businesses, which lead to schedule slips, taking shortcuts, cost/quality misses, and then an unsatisfied customer. Experience teaches you lessons, but it’s up to you to decide which lessons are important. There are some lessons that need to be forgotten, revised or completely updated because people change, technology change and knowledge life cycle is significantly shortened. Therefore, how do you balance people, process, and priority in order to manage IT portfolio seamlessly?


It's helpful to have a clear vision and defined boundaries and know the difference between compromise and concession: Another benefit of a clear vision and boundaries is that you can separate what is critical and essential from what is "nice to have." IT Organizations that have not done that analysis usually end up spreading their resources too thinly to be effective and failing to achieve any goals. Research suggests that organizations cannot successfully tackle more than two goals at a time. Unfortunately, there are executives who set 5 and 6, and then wonder why there are confusion and poor execution. With all the information that is available, with the emphasis on speeding, and with so much to deal with a fire hose is a great analogy for quantity and pressure! Even many IT executives have years of experience in IT management, experience teaches you lessons, but it’s up to you to decide which lessons are important. There are some lessons that need to be forgotten, revised or completely updated because people change, technology change and knowledge life cycle is significantly shortened, continuous learning becomes a strategic imperative for either IT leaders or any business professionals today.


In reality, managing multiple people, projects, and timelines is more like the Spinning Plates act: Usually, projects are launched at different times, sometimes in synergy with existing programs, and tended to have at varying degrees of focus (the spin) to keep them going, so they don't fall off the pole. Thus, the best leaders will optimize each person's ability to handle the "plate load" effectively, all with the brand quality and emphasis on progress and delivery. The sooner you finish your existing commitments, the sooner you can launch new projects, whether your own idea that is successfully lobbied for resources or another that were pending, awaiting someone to manage it to completion. The spinning plates are one aspect of multiple projects.


Leadership is really a dynamic challenge. Knowing how to juggle serves you well: Teams are expected to work on what they can do at once, but there are strategies for focusing so that progress will occur by most beneficial impacts, firm commitments or launch dates. The leadership alleviates overwhelm and prevents burnout or feeling inadequate. Note how you can spin one plate harder, leave it longer, then return to the wobbly ones for another quick spin. Projects are the same, always moving them forward at their respective "spins," or letting them set until you have more spin to give it. Equate spin as "energy and effort"--the actual work you do on a project. The need to monitor which one wobbles is critical. Sometimes the wobble comes from a change in direction, unanticipated risks, and new information.


The art of management is achieving goals despite limitations. So the right approach to solve “IT overloading” is to prioritize projects based on strategy and provides a mechanism to move resources to key projects at the cost of slowing down or even closing some other non-core projects, to ensure IT manages the right projects and become the true strategic differentiator for high-performance businesses. Maybe, in the end, you will more like spinning plates, seems to do it magically well, but put a lot of effort behind the scenes.

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