The State of IT in 2022: Why IT Teams Need Flexible Project Management

2022 is shaping up to be another year full of change and challenges for IT departments. This has created a diverse landscape of projects for the IT PMO to manage. We have an excellent introduction to IT PMOs that breaks down what an IT PMO is, the benefits of an IT PMO, and how Wrike can help you enable a successful IT PMO within your organization. It’s a foundational guide to how an IT PMO can help an organization align and deliver against strategic objectives.  

The IT PMO is a very important piece of the puzzle. Ultimately, it needs to prioritize and enable project work that IT teams can execute to align with your business initiatives. Over the course of a three-blog series, we want to take the next step into the IT PMO. We will dive a bit deeper into IT projects enabled by the PMO and address the following topics:

  1. The state of IT and flexible project management for IT teams in 2022
  2. Enabling transparency in IT operations and product development  
  3. Ideas to kick-start successful IT project execution

The challenge: The state of IT in 2022 

Much has been said and written about the COVID and post-COVID world in which IT teams have led with uncanny success. Seemingly overnight and throughout 2020-2021, IT teams transformed from that “black box cost center” to a “business-enabling value center” as they brilliantly enabled their entire business to stabilize and succeed while their workforce moved remote.  

As we transitioned into more permanent remote, hybrid, and in-office configurations, these same teams have been tasked to chip away at the inefficiencies within their hybrid models. Some companies have found great success, while others are struggling. This has led to questions about the effectiveness of hybrid and remote teams becoming all the more common in 2022. 

In parallel, Q2 2022 has presented organizations with flashes of economic uncertainty, amplifying concerns about an upcoming recession. We have begun to see the initial reaction as companies seek opportunities to reduce costs through OpEx/CapEx spending.

These COVID and economic realities have presented a new standard of expectations for IT teams, which can be further confirmed through common trends evident within IT leadership surveys in 2022:

  1. IT and business teams need to collaborate more efficiently than ever.
  2. Agile has experienced tremendous growth, but Waterfall is still pertinent today.
  3. IT teams must move from purpose-built solutions to collaborative software.

The post-COVID realities are a lens that helps us focus on underlying problems that have been present for some time: 

  1. Flexibility is paramount when responding to our dynamic world today.
  2. Inefficiencies still exist between IT and the business.  

Good IT teams can simply adapt to the challenge. Great ones can use it as an opportunity to not only adapt but establish new precedence for flexibility, collaboration, and transparency with the entire organization. Let’s further explore a couple of solutions to help make our IT teams great.

Solution #1: Enable flexible projects for IT teams

Even with the move to SaaS and the cloud, the world of Information Technology remains complex. IT project management is full of scenarios that challenge internal standards or methodologies, and this only compounds the need for cross-functional integration with other business units. It’s important to have an approach that can be prescriptive but also flexible for situations where your project requires new or unique approaches.  

Let’s first look at some of the common challenges with projects that IT teams face internally. Then, we’ll discuss how collaborating with the business further exposes weakness in our links.

Agile

IT teams all look for ways to imprint company culture into their approach to Agile projects. Some look for fun and creative ways to estimate a story’s size, while others choose more empirical methods. When it comes to product development, Agile methodologies align quite nicely — but what about other teams within the IT department, like Operations or Support? These teams often run into challenges when trying to align their work (such as data center migration) with Agile methodologies. A hybrid approach can often become a reality. Processes and projects need the flexibility to enable teams to complete their work effectively rather than dissecting and forcing work to align with a prescribed approach.

Waterfall 

Product development teams generally lean more toward Agile as their methodology of choice for IT project management, but opportunities for Waterfall projects are still present within IT today. For example, projects within IT Operations, Support, or other infrastructure teams and projects can often use Waterfall or a hybrid mix of Waterfall and Agile. SaaS and Cloud environments are also redefining the role of an IT engineer and administrator today as they spend more and more time on capability enablement compared to common historical practices such as infrastructure provisioning. Once again, an approach that maintains the flexibility to execute work efficiently becomes ideal.  

Ultimately, no single methodology or framework can be perfect for the dynamic nature of the various projects within an IT department. In this day and age, your teams need the flexibility to execute their work in a way that makes sense. They need to enable efficiency while honoring the due diligence required with security, reliability, quality, etc. And all of this is just internal to the IT department. What about cross-functional engagement with the business where, in addition to IT-led projects with standard business collaboration, IT can also participate in the various projects executed throughout other departments?

Solution #2: Foster seamless collaboration for all work within an organization

Long gone are the days when IT teams could use purpose-built products that become ineffective when used for other purposes, like participating in business-led projects or enabling Enterprise Service Management (ESM) within the organization. Today’s IT teams need to speak the same language as the entire company, interact on the same platform, and seamlessly move work among the many teams required in the modern workplace.  

Great IT teams cannot slip back into that “black box” mindset where what they are doing, their measures of success, and their results are proprietary to their department and disconnected from the rest of the organization. Transparency into Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), common dashboards with consistent measurement criteria, and reporting that can handle any department enables a common language for both the IT PMO and/or organizational PMO.

Modern projects should quickly allow anyone from the company to execute the work without needing to learn specialized tooling along the way. Employees should be able to collaborate effortlessly, and leadership should have a consistent view of their PMO successes or challenges.

But wait…what can be done now?

In an article focused on flexibility, a rigid cliffhanger just doesn’t feel right. Here are some thought-provoking questions you can begin discussing today to take note of where you stand now vs. where you can go:

  • Are we fitting our IT project management approach to the work or our work to fit the project approach? 
  • Are we truly interacting in a way that promotes efficiency across all teams?
  • Do other departments have seamless visibility into our work and vice versa?
  • What tools do we use to engage outside of IT on business initiatives?
  • Are the tools supplied for Enterprise Service Management truly for the enterprise?

The state of IT isn’t without challenges in 2022. There is a continued drive to adapt to the post-COVID workplace, uncertainty in the economic climate, and several trends driving the need to work closely with departments outside of IT. 

As discussed, enabling flexible project management and fostering seamless collaboration between all departments are great ways to begin rising to all of these changes. But what are some ways that IT and other departments can achieve this synergy? Stay tuned, as we’ll discuss some practical examples in Part 2 of this blog series, where we explore enabling transparency in IT Operations and Product Development teams.

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