Eliminating Crisis Mode
Good management and good communication work
From defining strategy to tactical implementation there is a requirement to provide more with less as IT budgets continue to reduce over time, according to Peter Nevin, the group manager of information systems at project delivery organization Sinclair Knight Merz.
According to Nevin, through technical advances in areas such as desktop provisioning and support help, and by providing his team with a computer at home, virtual private network connection and subsidized broadband, staff can fix many IT problems from home. It is an important part of Nevin demonstrating his "sensitivity to the Generation X/Y requirements".
"If it were necessary for everybody to be in the office to provide support outside core hours, then I think we would lose some people. This way we get better performance from them coming into work later when they have provided after hours support from home. Overall they are doing long hours — spread across home and office. You need to develop a sensitivity to different generations' requirements and an amount of self-knowledge that shows that a lot of the behavioural things that we do are as a result of our generation," Nevin says.
New generation technology is another challenge, and while some can help tackle pressures, others add new stresses, he says. "For example, Instant Messenger has been implemented globally and if that's not working it requires an immediate fix — it almost requires an immediacy of support similar to telephony. If you deploy these types of systems you must plan for the increased support requirements. If you don't, then your people are working unrealistic hours or taken out of bed to support the system.
"But we planned for that from the start," Nevin says. "With Instant Messenger we put 3000 users on and they are working a 24-hour rotation around the world and need support 24 hours."
Nevin thinks the antidote to pressure is better management by CIOs. "I think the level to which the IT team suffers pressure reflects quite poorly on CIO management in general. You have to plan the workload for six months and 12 months out and make sure you are resourcing now for what you will need in the future rather than trying to obtain resources just as they are needed.
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