IT Departments Overstretched, Constricted - and Disconnected with the Boardroom
May 28, 2014

Sridhar Iyengar

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Almost half (40 percent) of IT professionals describe the current capability of their departments to do their jobs as "stretched" or "overstretched" according to a new survey by ManageEngine.

When asked what was holding their department back from working more efficiently, an overwhelming 36 percent stated budget constraints, followed by resourcing constraints and limitations on team skills (24 percent and 20 percent, respectively).

Not surprisingly, when asked to describe their current IT budgets, around a third (34 percent) of the respondents claimed their budgets were "stretched" or "inadequate".

Interestingly, a noticeable disconnect becomes apparent when looking at the spending priorities of the IT department compared to that of the boardroom. If given free reign over the IT budget spend, the majority (58 percent) of IT departments would prioritize long-term, back-end infrastructure investment, with virtualization solutions (24 percent) and additional storage (18 percent) topping the wish list. Whereas the boardroom is pushing for more immediate and visible priorities driven by end-user demands such as upgrades of productivity software - e.g., Office - being the top priority at 20 percent.

With this in mind, when asked what is holding the IT department back from making its preferred investment, budget holder priorities (58 percent) and influence from the boardroom (20 percent) came out on top. Digging further into this disconnect with the boardroom, the survey found that a huge, 44 percent of respondents claimed lack of technological awareness at the board level stops the IT pros from communicating the needs of the IT department effectively. Only 8 percent of the respondents cited their own lack of appropriate business acumen as an issue.

When looking into where the IT department spends a majority of its current time, 30 percent stated rolling out new solutions. Other top responses included responding to, and dealing with, end-user admins (20 percent) and troubleshooting queries (18 percent). The bottom of the list included rolling out company-wide policies (18 percent) and software updates (14 percent).

"The disconnect between the IT department and the boardroom has always been an issue, but this survey highlights that as budgets become more stretched, this disconnect will have an increasing effect on the overall business," said David Howell, European Director, ManageEngine. "Overlooking an IT department's priorities, such as back-end improvements, is not only detrimental to the department's time, but also impacts the efficiency of the business as a whole. The focus on tactical fire-fighting activities, over more strategic, long-term actions, exacerbates this problem even further. Being able to communicate with the boardroom effectively will continue to be a crucial skill for the IT department. In the meantime, using cost-effective and agile IT solutions will help alleviate stretched capacity and utilize budgets more effectively."

About the Survey: The survey was conducted amongst delegates attending the Service Desk and IT Support Show, Earls Court, London. 100 UK IT professionals were surveyed at the event held April ​29-30, 2014.

Sridhar Iyengar is VP, Product Management, at ManageEngine
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