There’s nothing new about IT departments struggling under heavy workloads. But the consumerization of technology and the BYOD revolution it has wrought have only added to the expectations placed on IT teams, even as end-users congratulate themselves on increased productivity.
End-users want 100% availability, and executives want IT to stay out at the front of the technology wave.
IT resources don’t always increase in lock-step with the increasing demand put on IT departments, and it’s causing a lot of strain on IT workers. IT services firm TIG did a survey of IT workers at 137 small and medium sized companies (up to 500 employees) and found that 70% of IT workers find their jobs stressful, with 10% reporting poor physical condition and 2% reporting stress-related illness due to the demands of work. More than one-quarter of respondents reported missing out on time with their families due to work demands.
Hal thought typing faster was the answer, until the friction caused his keyboard to combust.
The third annual GFI Software IT Admin Stress Survey found that 25% of respondents had suffered a stress-related illness due to work pressures, pressures reported to come mainly from company management and to be exacerbated by lack of adequate IT staff. One of the worst times for stress is every January. Eric Hanselman, chief analyst at 451 Group told Network Computing, “January was always the worst month in IT, because it was after the holidays, and everyone was trying to connect everything they got for the holidays to the network.”
In a Gartner press release on the top 10 strategic tech trends of 2014, BYOD figures prominently, and Gartner says that “BYOD will double or even triple the size of the mobile workforce – and place a huge strain on IT and finance organizations.” So what can you do?
Signs of IT Department Overload
Ultimately, IT department overload can lead to lower earnings, dissatisfied customers, and lower morale throughout the workforce. Look for the following signs of IT department overload:
• Higher IT job turnover – The GFI Software survey referenced above also found that a whopping 79% of IT administrators were considering changing jobs due to heightened work stress.
• People performing jobs outside their skill sets – This type of stop-gap coping mechanism should be rare, not a regular occurrence.
• Project backlog and missed deadlines – Again, these should not be regular occurrences. When they are, turnover can spike, and the problem only gets worse.
Policies for prioritizing IT requests should be in place, enforced, and supported by management. The IT team should all be on the same page concerning how requests are prioritized. The last thing you want is end-users becoming frustrated and then enlisting aid from management to escalate requests for them, because it’s a lose-lose-lose situation. But not only does the IT team need to be knowledgeable about prioritization of requests, end-users do too. You want management support when it comes to how IT requests are prioritized so you can implement your policies fairly and consistently.
If BYOD is causing disproportionate stress on your IT team, perhaps it’s time to revisit your BYOD policy. You should review this policy at least a couple of times a year anyway. If your company is one that suffers from January overload with everyone bringing in their shiny new devices, perhaps you need to spell out well in advance what end-users can and cannot expect IT to do during those first hectic weeks of the new year.
Finally, ensure your IT team has tools that are up to the challenge. If your IT asset management system is cobbled together from spreadsheets and the contents of people’s brains, you’re going to have a hard time. Likewise, if you’re using an antiquated IT service desk solution that puts all the heavy lifting onto IT workers, they’re not going to be able to operate very efficiently. Many IT asset management and IT service desk processes can be automated, and there’s no reason to stick with an IT service management solution that only adds to IT department overload.