In the last two to three years, technological advances coupled with customer demand for new ways to bank have empowered financial institutions to take on many new technology projects. The lack of investment during the recession coupled with the beginnings of an economic recovery have permitted banks’ technology budgets to grow and have even allowed many banks to take on major transformational IT projects. In addition, business units are becoming increasingly savvy in technology systems, increasing inquiries to IT, or triggering the desire to bypass IT altogether. All of that said, IT team sizes have not necessarily kept pace with the increase in demand.
Due to these circumstances, many community and regional banks are experiencing IT department overload. Some are struggling with the balance of the day-to-day “keep the lights on” activities and the innovative, forward-looking improvement projects. Others are striving to establish a functioning Program Management Office (PMO) to bring a sense of order to their technology teams and projects.
The symptom? Many banks view their IT departments as not aligned with their business. The cause? There may be misaligned priorities, causing people to work on projects they feel are important, but are not in the best interests of the organization as a whole.
Our banking and technology infrastructure teams have collaborated with several clients to overcome IT department strain. Based on our experience, here are the top ten things banks can do to avoid IT overload:
- Work with the Executive Committee or Board of Directors to establish the primary strategic objective for the organization.
- Use the primary strategic objective to prioritize project requests across the entire portfolio of active and future projects.
- Establish long-term strategic IT goals and objectives to guide project decisions, planning at least 24 to 36 months ahead.
- Track IT team member time closely and accurately to better understand resource scheduling requirements and determine if they are focusing on the appropriate projects. This will help determine how much capacity the group really has.
- Through time tracking, monitor where resources and/or skillsets are constrained most often and hire or change resourcing accordingly. Hire for the right skills, then trust your diverse and varied IT team members to lead successful projects.
- Reserve capacity on your IT team to account for unforeseen events.
- Maintain consistency in the way all projects are approved and funded.
- Ensure the PMO, or the established project intake process, has the support of business leaders and upper management.
- Open the lines of communication and develop trust between IT and the business. Visibility and transparency are key.
- Leverage an established process to communicate resource constraints to the business when additional resources are needed. Don’t be afraid to outsource to qualified contractors or outside developers to help your internal team at the appropriate times.
- It’s your lucky day. You get a bonus 11th point— don’t make promises to customers, your manager, or internal partners, you can’t keep. Utilize established tools and processes across the organization to honestly agree on allocation, resources constraints, and capabilities.
A well-established PMO and a well-thought-out project intake and prioritization process can be very strong tools. They can assist any organization in raising visibility of resource constraints, monitoring of resource issues, and ensuring all staff is working on the right project, at the right time, and for the good of the entire organization.
For more information on bank IT assessments and reducing IT overload, please contact Todd Cota, Senior Manager in the Technology Infrastructure Practice, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jordan Sternlieb, Manager in the Banking Practice, at email@example.com.