IT Project Backlog is Growing. How to Get Control.

The average company has a backlog of planned IT projects going back between three months and one year, according to research published on Sep 14, 2021. The report, conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit, surveyed 1,002 business and IT decision-makers in nine countries.

There are many drivers behind the backlog, but at least part of the problem has to do with finding the right data, the report found. In fact, six in ten leaders canceled a digital project due to an inability to access the necessary data.

In today’s challenging business environment, perhaps this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Business leaders are increasingly relying on their IT team to adapt new technology in order to maintain their competitive position, and this adds pressure on that team to keep pace, adapt readily to constant change, and make critical decisions that don’t disrupt the day-to-day business operations. The same survey found that 83% of respondents believe that their organization needs to improve IT infrastructure and applications to prepare for more changes ahead.

Exacerbating the trend, siloed teams within organizations have increasingly made their own choices over new tools, technologies and digital strategies. And this is making it harder for IT to maintain control over their digital infrastructure.

To succeed and stay ahead of the onslaught of business demands and ever-growing list of projects, IT needs to gain control with real-time access to a consolidated view of IT asset data. This centralized view should integrate with all the many types of data sources being used across the organization, including CMDBs, file systems, ITSM, and DCIM tools.

IT needs to know exactly what assets are in their IT environment and have current, accurate configuration data. IT and business staff must understand application-to-application and application-to-services dependencies as well as application-to-infrastructure. Often just identifying the primary application is not enough, and a clear depiction of upstream and downstream relationships is required to fully prepare for changes and communicate impact to stakeholders.

Making decisions that involve moving or transforming IT assets and infrastructure will have an impact on business users, so it’s important to understand critical business facts and constraints for each asset – such as department ownership and usage, compliance, and security requirements.
It is also important to leverage data points from the many tools that teams across IT use to monitor, assess, and address issues across operations, application performance, network, and infrastructure. These tools provide data about cloud assessment, performance monitoring, cloud cost assessment, and other systems provide additional information that is relevant to both IT and business decision makers and should be considered in the planning process.

To fully understand the environment and make good decisions, IT should be able to see all data in a visual, actionable format, automatically grouping assets, highlighting conflicts and rogue assets. And having it all in this form allows the IT team to plan for change, identify gaps in their understanding, and even conduct what-if simulations.

If you are faced with a growing backlog of projects, there are a few steps you can take to build an accurate, actionable foundation for your IT decision-making:

  • Ingest information describing all elements of your environment from a variety of sources and then normalize the data to filter out noise and build a single, consistent source of truth. You must thoroughly map your environment, which is harder than it sounds. IT environments are becoming increasingly complex, and the chances that critical information about applications is going to be siloed in various departments is only growing. It helps to have an interactive, visualization of that environment; not only does this make it clear where the connections and rogue assets may be lurking, it enables collaboration and rapid decision making with your team and relevant application owners.
  • Validate the data and application dependencies with subject matter experts to mitigate the risk of missing key relationships and dependencies, enabling teams to make better decisions. In fact, it’s critical in the discovery phase to engage the organization’s SMEs in short, but meaningful interviews to obtain physical/virtual inventory, application inventory and dependencies.

The Bottom line: IT complexity is accelerating. Teams are under pressure to adopt new technologies, meet emerging regulatory and security requirements, and maintain legacy apps and this is contributing to a major project backlog and, perhaps, friction across IT and business. Our TransitionManager software allows IT to easily adapt to technology changes, and innovate at the speed of business, while assuring recovery and compliance targets are attained.

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