Least Monitored and Measured IT Activity

By George Florit, Managing Partner, Michael-Delia Inc.

Issue:

Management Oversight is the activity that IT executives rely on for:

  • Effective planning of the products and services that will be provided to the business enterprise,
  • Assuring the selection and effective use of all equipment and necessary facilities,
  • Ensuring the optimal use of all staff related resources and in turn,
  • Delivering quality, timely and economical IT products and services.

In terms of the amount of time, level and type of positions involved, Management Oversight is often the least monitored and measured IT activity. Yet, it’s the most critical and impactful activity in determining the success of the IT organization.

Absence of Management Tools:

Tools to measure Management Oversight are often lacking. While information about activities performed by individual contributors might be collected by some IT organizational silos, criteria used vary widely and the ability to capture the Management Oversight being applied to these work efforts is glaringly absent. Some might believe that Management Oversight is imbedded in activities that are tracked. However, if it can’t be monitored and measured, how does one know that it is being effectively applied?

Staff Involvement:

Manager Capture 10At some level, titled managers are involved in Management Oversight of work efforts. However, they are often diverted from this activity to address IT emergencies, performance failures and client relationship and service reporting issues. The vacuum created by their absence is often filled by non-titled management staff or goes completely unaddressed.

With non-titled managers involved in Management Oversight, the question arises as to the qualifications of non-titled managers performing this function.

Since Management Oversight activity is typically not captured, the appropriateness of positions involved, and the sufficiency or inadequacy of time spent cannot be determined.

Impact:

The consequence for not being able to monitor and measure Management Oversight can be seen in IT organizational performance shortfalls that are primarily traceable to the inadequate and inappropriate use of people related resources. Executive management is often surprised when performance shortfalls seem to have a mysterious origin.

Based on assessments performed by Michael-Delia Inc. of staff activities and Management Oversight being applied to work in many IT organizations, findings have shown:

  • Overall level of Management Oversight applied varied significantly between IT organizations. The total level of effort expended ranged between 3% to 13% of all work efforts expended. Not knowing management’s requirement, the spread indicated that the level of Management Oversight being applied ranged from inadequate, sufficient to potentially excessive.
  • Of all the time spent in Management Oversight, titled managers accounted for 23% to 44%. This range indicated that considerable amounts of titled managers’ time was being expended in activities other than the Management Oversight of work.
  • Of all the time spent on Management Oversight, non-titled managers accounted for 56% to 77%. Among all IT organizations, the majority of Management Oversight was being done by non-titled managers. Since the qualifications of non-titled management positions could not be determined or the amount of time expended measured, the effectiveness and reliability of the Management Oversight being provided was questionable.

Addressing the Issue:

Addressing this issue can have significant beneficial impacts on the IT organization, including:

  1. Increasing the productivity and focus of staff on core activities by 10% to 20% or greater,
  2. Increasing the quality and timeliness associated with work products,
  3. Expanding the organization’s ability to address the backlog for IT services and,
  4. Accomplishing more with the IT budget.

To realize these opportunities, actions that can be taken encompass:

  • Assessing the organization’s current Management Oversight posture and determining the degree of exposure.
  • If appropriate, determining the level of Management Oversight of work that should be applied to work functions throughout the entire IT organization.

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Peter Drucker

  • Determining the level of Management Oversight that titled managers should apply to work efforts and where possible, relieving them of duties that keep them from performing this function.
  • Identifying the non-titled manager positions that are qualified to perform Management Oversight and the level of time that should be committed to this function.
  • Developing a reporting system to provide periodic insights into the level of Management Oversight being applied and the work activities and position titles involved.