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How IT leaders can optimise costs while still enabling an agile, effective hybrid workforce

Henrik Nilsson

Henrik Nilsson

Vice President, EMEA at Apptio
Image credit: everything possible / Shutterstock.com

Businesses are having to do more with less at the moment. While many large organisations have weathered the changes of the past 18 months reasonably well, they are still faced with exacting demands to continually deliver growth and innovation.

This is set against a backdrop of widespread resource shortages faced by businesses, something felt most acutely in the talent sector. The impacts of the pandemic have caused many workers to change roles and industries, leaving many organisations with staff or skills gaps that make it challenging to fulfil growth targets.

Exacerbating the challenge even further is the question mark looming over hybrid work. It’s clear that a mixture of virtual and office-based work is the future, but uncertainty remains over the overall balance, and in turn, what technology is needed to support hybrid work effectively.

All this uncertainty is causing challenges for CEOs and CFOs, who are having to make tough decisions over what initiatives they need to fund and drive forwards. As ever, they’re often looking towards technology as the solution, but recent data from Apptio shows that while 92% of business leaders rate the business value of technology as very high, only 62% have confidence in the quality of information.

Forward-thinking CIOs will be looking closely at these problems faced by their C-suite peers and providing clear, easily understood insights on how technology can support them, as well as the risks and benefits.

Marrying agile and waterfall processes

After many workers sat tight for a long time due to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, in recent months we have seen the effects of the so-called ‘Great Resignation’ take hold, with many workers changing jobs or even fields entirely as they reevaluate their priorities.

Even as businesses hire employees to fill these gaps, the sudden loss of experience and skills means that leaders are having to do more with less resource – it’s the most common conversation I’ve had with our customers and partners in recent months.

In the technology sector, agile development is being touted as the solution to this problem. The concept of giving more freedom to dev teams and allowing them to iterate (and hopefully innovate) has been around for a while, but now seems like a tipping point where it could be used to make up for the resource shortage.

However, CFOs are still hesitant to invest due to challenges around planning and reporting. Finance leaders need to understand the value coming from a project, which means constant updates on how much is being spent on both technology and labour, and the resultant ROI. This requires a burdensome reporting process for dev teams which is completely at odds with the concept of agile itself.

To solve this, CIOs need to invest in processes and tools which allow for the automatic reporting of costs and ongoing tracking of value. Key to this is the discipline of Technology Business Management (TBM), which involves using frameworks which treat IT as a business within the business, linking IT costs to business value.

With these processes in plac,e the gap between waterfall processes in finance teams and agile in tech teams can be bridged. Tools can be used which automatically log both labour and tech costs associated with tech teams and translate them into insights that are reportable against waterfall processes from finance. This is a vital step in enabling agile development and plugging the current resource shortfall that many businesses are experiencing.

Hybrid uncertainty

With the ever-changing face of the pandemic, UK businesses are still hesitant to fully commit to long-term working patterns for their employees. According to a recent survey commissioned by the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management, 40% of UK office workers are yet to hear more about their future way of working.

This uncertainty has created a dilemma for technology buyers at these businesses. While technologists and business leaders understand that supporting hybrid working effectively gives their business a higher chance of performing better in the long-term, they do not have a long-term understanding of the amount of technical resources they need to support it.

For example, there has been large-scale investment in cloud and SaaS to support remote workers throughout the pandemic as work has moved to virtual settings. However, without a clear picture of exactly how many workers will be using these additional services on an ongoing basis, organisations run the risk of overspending on services they don’t need.

This means that, for IT leaders wanting to optimise in the short-term, they need to keep a close eye on usage data for services supporting hybrid work. By using TBM and associated tools to automatically monitor this usage, they can make informed decisions about how much cloud resource or the level of SaaS subscription they need right now before working patterns become more consistent, avoiding wasted spend.

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