The pandemic ignited the remote work revolution, providing office employees with new levels of flexibility in their schedules. But with that flexibility came scrutiny from management: How much are they really working? Thus the growing trend of companies implementing software than monitors keystrokes and mouse movement to track worker productivity.
Typically those being monitored sit in marketing, finance, sales, operations, and other key departments. Interestingly, the folks responsible for installing and maintaining the monitoring systems – those in IT – now face similar surveillance. Engineers, developers, and other IT pros aren’t necessarily being measured strictly for productivity. More than ever, IT leaders must justify the costs and resources needed for their department to achieve its mission. And doing so requires clear and precise communication.
To begin, first educate and inform leaders across the organization. Specifically, provide them with details on your staff’s daily tasks, the complexity of that work, and how they’re vital for achieving the company’s strategic initiatives. Executives may already be familiar with much of this – IT leaders are now regularly included in all high level business decisions, as technology drives the engine of modern corporations. That said, some may not be privy to IT’s day-to-day activities – and the necessity of those activities.
For example, non-technical managers often have a limited view of IT – to many, it’s strictly about help desk and support. Yet chances are, they don’t understand the costs of the associated software and equipment. Even more, they might not be able to grasp the time and costs involved in app development and network upgrades, especially in light of digital transformation efforts. They either lack the visibility into what’s required, or make assumptions about how much it take to do effectively do the job.
Lately, we’ve had a number of conversations with clients interested in monitoring help desk worker productivity. However, we don’t feel that monitoring can accurately portray and measure true results. That’s because the metrics don’t necessarily align with the value of the work being performed. For example, if IT is replacing a router, deploying new PCs, or troubleshooting a mobile app issue, counting keystrokes has nothing to do with those tasks. Data could imply lack of productivity. Which is another reason why non-technical executives need to have insight into the varied roles within IT; you’re not just maintaining and troubleshooting anymore.
Another way to justify costs is proof of your achievements with mobile and digital transformation strategy. This is critical, as any leader who cares about revenue knows all too well how mobile assets (for marketing, sales, etc.) are vital for the entire organization. Show how the investment, the actual dollar amount, led to the development of specific technology implementations, and how those implementations fostered specific initiatives. In short, convey the benefits of IT in terms other department leaders can relate to: leads, conversions, sales, time saved, money saved.
Also deliver regular reports about the IT department’s performance and productivity. Whether it’s weekly, monthly, or quarterly, updates maintain interest in technology initiatives, and show other leaders all the milestones completed along the way from inception to completion. These reports can include the overall goals of specific projects, the number of people involved, hours required, and others costs that go beyond the obvious line items.
Consider updates about regular network and other maintenance tasks as well. Many in non-technical roles may not realize the importance of maintenance – to them, it’s trivial work with little to no affect on the enterprise. Yet as IT pros know, performance is inherently connected to consistent maintenance, so it’s critical to connect the dots for outsiders. Convey both the benefits of maintenance as well as the consequences – in real-world business terms – of irregular maintenance.
Every department believes in the significance of their work. This can naturally make some skeptical about the work of other departments. And since IT functions can seem abstract for those in pure “business” roles, they might legitimately question certain costs or the official rationale for specific expenses. This is no time to get defensive. Instead, put yourself in their shoes. Communicate in order to educate, not to win a debate. You’ll find that in most cases, other leaders will agree that IT costs are justified.