The two sides of IT are illustrated in the following two sentences:
- Great job, IT; you weathered the COVID storm and the scramble toward newly dispersed teams.
- Bad job, IT; 78% of you garnered more technical debt during the pandemic.
Will 2022 be the year IT overcomes both the technical and financial effects of less-than-streamlined IT architectures? Ninety-four percent of organizations say technical debt is important for transformation. But nearly 60% of companies surveyed said they lack a formal strategy for managing technical debt, and it’s no wonder, with IT teams notoriously short-staffed.
What’s the solution to reducing IT infrastructure debt this year?
The state of tech debt
There is good and bad debt, and from a technology perspective, there is recognized technical debt from launching a necessary product too quickly — or responding to crisis conditions. But once the dust has settled, even the most necessary debt must be managed effectively, or it will cause unnecessary cost overruns and workflow slowdowns.
As previously stated, 94% of organizations say technical debt can be helpful for capitalizing on opportunities, but without careful management, this debt can turn into an anchor. What are some challenges to eliminating bad technical debt?
- When data and operating processes exist in silos, it can cause misalignment between cross-functional teams that need to work together. Siloed data and operating processes can impede communication and limit understanding between teams who need to cooperate in the assessment of technical debt and strategies for its elimination.
- Cultural and stakeholder buy-in, or lack thereof, can also hinder progress toward assessment and elimination of debt.
- Missing the forest for the trees. When you’re too close to the architecture, it can be difficult to envision your way to a more streamlined infrastructure.
A third-party assessment and external perspective can help.
Assessing technical debt
The first step toward erasing IT technical debt is to fully assess its weight on your organization. Is it holding you back from digital transformation initiatives? One study showed 87% of global CIOs believe the complexity of their existing IT architectures keeps them from investing in the latest technology innovations.
Evaluating your technical debt and its financial drain on your organization should include a detailed assessment of:
- The cost of simply leaving it alone. Identify the baseline expense for operating and maintaining existing functionality. That’s your starting point.
- The cost of any new, necessary development.
- The inevitable costs associated with user support and bug fixes.
- The cost of long-term maintenance. For example, what is the cost of software maintenance and routine upgrades?
- What systems are necessary to move data between other systems? Integration is a necessity, but its costs are often overlooked in budget planning.
Each of these assessments becomes a percentage of your overall projected IT spend, and the exercise will provide you with an accurate assessment of the technical debt your business is carrying. During this process, keep an eye out for signs of future technical debt, including:
- Project request backlogs from your business units, which could ultimately lead to shadow IT projects/implementations.
- A plethora of side contractors for maintaining or fixing your existing software and/or platforms.
- A high and rising number of support tickets indicating problems with the core functionality of a system or architecture.
- Failure to upgrade certain software platforms for fear of functionality issues and their impact on end users.
- Duplicate or overlapping contracts for software with duplicate or overlapping functions.
- The timing of hardware and/or software refreshes.
To eliminate your company’s technical debt with the goal of improved efficiency in 2022, a thorough assessment is critical, but how do you know where to start?
Managing IT architectures more efficiently in 2022
This entire process leads to a catalog of your systems’ operational footprint. Without a periodic review of this type, it’s easy to amass technical debt and overlook its growth. The natural result of a periodic technical debt assessment is the ability to apply what you know within the context of your business strategies. The logical conclusion of a technical debt assessment is improved:
- Understanding of the business value of the technology and processes you employ.
- Assessment of the experience of your customers within the context of your tech stack.
- Understanding of the whys behind the tech stack governing your business.
- Evaluation of your cybersecurity posture and risks.
- Compliance with government and other regulatory rules.
- Visibility of any business or technology silos.
- Visibility regarding labor costs at the micro and macro levels.
A technical debt assessment can be overwhelming. Many enterprise organizations seek a trusted third-party firm to alleviate the pressure on overburdened IT teams. The Windsor Group Sourcing Advisory is the trusted partner for CIOs seeking to streamline their IT infrastructure. Talk with our team today.