The world of information technology is not for the weak-minded. It’s a nonstop, fast-paced environment that doesn’t offer many breaks. Technology is constantly changing and evolving which makes the life of an IT manager very demanding. New projects are continually coming through department doors whether it’s the designing of a new web app or updating the company’s infrastructure, it doesn’t take long for the office to become hectic. Interruptions are frequent while breaks are not.
IT departments are chaotic, it’s understandable when they get unorganized, but IT directors and their employees have to become better with the way they work. Especially if they want to present quality products in a timely fashion. They have to become more efficient in the everyday, monotonous work. Projects and special ventures are obviously very important but when you get the repetitive and tedious everyday work done efficiently, it frees up time for you to perform excellent work on the very important projects that were assigned to your department. We want to talk about some of the problems that prevent IT staffs from getting day to day work done efficiently and ways that these problems can be fixed.
Spreadsheets on Spreadsheets on Spreadsheets
Your team is barely keeping their head above the amount of spreadsheets that you are trying to coordinate. In every project you have spreadsheets that are keeping track of progress which is understandable. The problem is, you have too many.
One spreadsheet is solely to keep track of the bugs while another is to keep track of tasks and requirements for all people involved in the project. Then another spreadsheet to keep track of the timeline of the project to make sure that you are meeting all deadlines. On top of that, you have employees who have created their own spreadsheets to keep their data in. So, whoever was delegated the job of scrubbing and updating the spreadsheets has to chase down their coworkers in order to keep the spreadsheets structured and up-to-date. Not only is this tiring for the employee updating the spreadsheets, but it is a big waste of time for everyone involved. There has to be a better way.
Establishing an agreed upon version of software that you can use to store your spreadsheets is the first step in perfecting this process. Next, give every employee in the department access to the spreadsheets. When the employees can update them on their own time, at their own desk, the administrator won’t be running around trying to gather information. When you can centralize all of the processes, it leaves more time for actual work and less time for updates and maintenance.
Too Many Commitments
It’s the same thing every week. You work so hard on the big project that was put before you. You do excellent work and get it turned in on time only to turn around and find another big stack of papers on your desk. There is always something adding to the to-do list.
A 2015 study conducted by MarketWatch show that 53% of American employees feel burned out and overworked. I would venture to guess that this number may be even higher in IT departments. IT managers and their employees work tireless hours every week only to feel like they’ve barely made a dent in the obligations that continue to create a mini-mountain range on their desk. If you want your employee's work to be done accurately and to completion, you have to give them time. You can’t expect them to do exceptional work when they have 20 other tasks that are due at the end of the day.
If you begin to reduce the tasks that are put on yours and your employee's plates, you can expect improved work. A couple ways to do this:
- Say “no”. There is nothing wrong with telling someone you’re too busy. If you have trouble saying no, just tell them to come back later. You can’t jeopardize your team's work because you don’t want to upset someone.
- Allocate 70% of your time to work. Leave the rest open. If there is something that comes up that needs attention immediately, you can afford to be more flexible because you have 30% of your day dedicated to nothing.
Meeting After Meeting After Meeting…
There is absolutely nothing wrong with meetings. When there is a strict outline being followed and it stays on the scheduled time, they are quite beneficial. Meetings become a problem when Doug, the engineer, takes up an entire hour talking about a bug that he is trying to fix. Why does everyone else need to hear about it, Doug? They don't. There is no reason for him to be taking up that much time when there are much more important things to be discussed.
Meetings are a production killer. When you’re deep into your work and have to pause for an hour meeting, it’s hard to come back and get into the groove that you were in before. The good news is there is a way to have less frequent meetings.
All by putting a communication plan in place, you can reduce the amount of meetings and make the ones you do have beneficial. This communication plan should outline all the players involved. It should let everyone know what types of things should be communicated and the frequency at which to do so. It should also inform employees who is playing what role in the communication process and how disagreements will be handled. This communication plan will help cut down on meetings and make the ones you do have more efficient.
IT departments are chaos. There really isn’t a way around it. They are constantly being bombarded with projects and requests that make it impossible to find perfect serenity. However, there are measures that you can take to control it. The things that we covered in this blog can go a long way in toning down the anarchy in the office. Try these tips and I guarantee you will see a difference.