AGILE SELF-ORGANISATION FOR IT OPERATIONS TEAMS

IN THE DIGITAL AGE, THE IT DEPARTMENT IS DIFFERENT: BETWEEN IT SPECIALIST AND BUSINESS ALLROUNDER

// Digitalisierung, IT Cost Reduction, IT Quality Improvement, IT-Prozesse &-Organisation, IT-Technologie Beratung

IT teams are currently under pressure from two sides: the business requires new and complex solutions that drive the digital transformation process, while at the same time, the existing infrastructure must be kept up-to-date and operated smoothly. The shortage of IT specialists is blocking personnel growth and outsourcing alone is not always the way out, either. Additionally, the pressure in the IT departments is increasing and the employees are similarly dissatisfied as the queue of customers at the door is getting longer and longer. The solution does not lie in a “go on like this”; structure and work organisation of IT departments will have to change. IT teams are called upon to work on concepts for an IT organisation of the future themselves and to examine whether agile methods of self-organisation might be the solution for a successful change.

 

THE MAGIC WORD IS AGILITY

Transparency and quality of work are at the core of a special coaching event for IT departments that want to meet the challenges of digitalisation and counter a shortage of specialists with a renewed work organisation. In its own working environment, noventum consulting lives the so-called "agile organisational methods” and successfully introduced them in numerous customer projects from an introductory workshop to the “training on the job” phase. The coaches of noventum consulting have been advising IT teams for 25 years and combine their experience with the methods of agile organisation. For many IT teams, agility means a major change in their work culture. The noventum consultants bring with them a full toolbox for this change process and put these tools to use together with their clients' employees.

 

NEW UNDERSTANDING OF ROLES FOR IT TEAMS?

The digital transformation is changing processes and technical infrastructure in companies. The IT departments in particular are being put to the test and, in some places, are struggling with the changes. The need for a new understanding of roles is under discussion. Which new tasks is the IT department faced with? How do companies need to reorganise their IT department in order to live up to its future tasks? How can structural changes counter the increasing shortage of specialists?

In the past, when the “EDP” used to run, everyone was satisfied and this requirement does, of course, still apply today: the technology must run smoothly. However, the importance of IT departments in companies has grown dramatically. In the past, it often was just a sub-unit of the central services in the company, but today it has become a decisive component of every company, reflected in its intertwinement with all central processes. Today, a lot of managers expect support and impulses for the core business from their IT department.

 

THE DIGITALISATION REQUIRES A TRANSFORMATION OF THE IT ORGANISATION

The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is forecasting for 2030 that approx. half a trillion devices and machines will be networked via the Internet. The world is becoming digital and the challenges that are coming along with that are enormous. However, even today IT departments are, in part, hopelessly overwhelmed, ticket systems overflow and the IT employees are just as dissatisfied as many of their customers. Constant innovations and updates are outstripping day-to-day business and, in some places, calls for a two-speed IT are arising, divided between standard and future tasks.

The German business newspaper Handelsblatt has discovered in a survey that only 38 percent of German companies consider their own employees to be sufficiently qualified for digitalisation. At the same time, IT and data analysis specialists are in short supply. Digital investments are being delayed because ongoing operations consume the capacities before innovations can even be considered. Existing data is not utilised and existing technology is not being used efficiently – digital potential is wasted.

It's time to take action. Companies must adapt the tasks and internal structure of their IT departments to the new requirements. Digitalisation not only changes business processes, digitalisation also requires a repositioned IT. And if specialists are not available to the desired extent, this cannot remain without consequences for the organisation of IT.

 

CHALLENGES IT TEAMS ARE FACING – HETEROGENEOUS AND COMPREHENSIVE

What are the current challenges IT teams are faced with? Which demands is the IT team leadership faced with? 

  • Increase of productivity and results quality
  • Quicker responses to new requirements
  • Increasing customer satisfaction through predictable delivery times
  • More transparency
  • Development of personal responsibility
  • Taking on tasks within the team
  • Establishing a broad know-how
  • Increasing employee satisfaction
  • Reducing fluctuation

The overview in keywords makes it plausible where the overload is coming from. The current organisation of the work does not keep up with customer interests, and the employees themselves are also dissatisfied. Up for discussion is a fundamentally different view of work, a paradigm shift. But where to start?

NOVENTUM AGILITY WORKSHOPS FOR MANAGERS AND EMPLOYEES

In preparatory workshops for managers and employees, the noventum consultants present the topic of “Agility in IT Operations” and draw comparisons to the concrete situation of your company. Through various “on the job training” and transformation phases, they accompany their clients and support the teams in their renewal. The consulting of noventum for your agility project is both modular and comprehensive at the same time.

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PUTTING OLD CERTAINTIES AND RITUALS INTO QUESTION

What does the demand for a changed mindset for the organisation of tomorrow refer to? Each team situation is specific and differs from other teams in terms of task, team composition and/or work organisation. In general, however, the demand applies that IT departments, in the future, will no longer have to provide “technical solutions”, but rather “customer-oriented solutions”.

The relationship to the customer

The customer relationship in agile teams is like a refresh of the image of “the customer is king”. The contact to the customer, both regular and personal contacts as well as the striving for an open and at the same time respectful dealing with each other, are the foundation for everything else. In case of more complex projects, the customer is becoming actively and offensively involved in the organisation and planning. Customer feedback has a high value and the service/product is highly oriented to the suggestions and wishes of the customers.

The result is a team that is working with a timely service-orientation that provides its customers with high quality services, as promised, and allows the customer to participate in the process at any time through a high degree of transparency.

The relationship to the team

Especially for experienced and hierarchical teams which sometimes are somewhat “ingrained”, this is a huge challenge. The team is the fixed point, it is here that the best ideas and solutions emerge, it is here where the greatest expertise is concentrated. The own inadequacies in terms of competency, experience or performance are openly discussed and borne in solidarity. “Hide-and-seek” is a thing of the past; the common goal requires helpfulness and the willingness to accept help. Team decisions are binding, solo trips are taboo. The individual assumes responsibility, each according to the situation and his or her abilities; the team demands this readiness.

Our relationship to ourselves

By their very nature, people are motivated and willing to perform, they only need the freedom and space to live out these abilities. With agile working methods, they can implement this particularly well in their own initiative, the assumption of responsibility and the development of creativity in the team. The readiness for discussion and for the compromises associated therewith also promotes team thinking and is a mandatory prerequisite for jointly supported changes. A changed error culture, that is oriented towards individual and joint learning from mistakes, is necessary. This can become a celebration for each team and for each individual. The agile employee is consistently open to criticism and change.

 

AGILE IMAGES OF THE FUTURE: COACHING FOR THE CHANGE PROCESS

The IT operations team is the most important experts when it comes to drafting a plan and a change for the future. As with any classic change process, agility coaching for IT operations teams begins with a detailed assessment of the status quo:

  • Who are we (skills, experience, wishes)?
  • What are our tasks?
  • Who are our customers?
  • Wo do we organise our work?

In order to answer these questions exhaustively, it takes everyone involved, not just managers. During the capturing of the status quo already, it should be expressed with great openness, courage and honesty what is going on. Our consultants moderate this in individual workshops.

Then, the critical questions are on the agenda:

  • What does not work? Where are our limits?
  • What remains undone?
  • Which role does the customer play (which role do we allow him to play)?
  • What about transparency?
  • What is our balance between team spirit and individual interests like?

Subsequent to this comprehensive inventory, which should be as comprehensive as possible, the next step is to get to know the agile tools and methods and to apply them to your own situation.

 

THE PLAN: NOVENTUM METHODOLOGY FOR A RENEWED IT ORGANISATION

The agility consultants of noventum consulting are highly experienced IT specialists who know the daily lives of different IT operations teams from a multitude of consulting projects. They know what they are talking about and, in addition to their knowledge of agility methods and models, contribute this IT knowledge to the project.

With the “noventum Methodology for a Renewed IT Organisation”, they present a change plan with which any IT team can tackle its own future planning.

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noventum accompanies the teams in a partnership-like manner and individually with “on-the-job-training” during the transformation of their daily work.

Our Best Practices experiences gained over the course of more than 25 years in IT management, IT operations, agile methods and business culture development provide the decisive added value.

 

noventum consulting

Carsten Schütte

Senior Consultant

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