Nobody likes complex things. It’s in our instinct that we gravitate towards what’s easy and understandable. But guess what, easy isn’t always good, just as the complex isn’t always bad. An ordinary person can never fully comprehend how the Large Hadron Collider operates, yet it doesn’t diminish this gigantic machine’s importance and value.
Unfortunately, modern IT systems have evolved to the point where managing and optimizing them requires significant effort. If left unattended, those systems can do more harm than good, which can negatively impact your clients, partners, and employees.
As much as business owners realize the importance of the IT complexity issue, many are hesitant to address it due to the difficulty of determining the return on technological investments. That can lead to substantial technical debt and reduced operation capabilities, causing frequent system failures.
So what can business owners do to address this problem?
The essence of IT complexity
IT complexity refers to the level of sophistication of a particular IT system. It encompasses various factors, such as the number of technologies used, the number of employees maintaining the IT infrastructure, the degree of interdepartmental collaboration, etc.
Altogether, IT complexity can provide additional value to your clients, leading to higher profits and lower costs. It also adds another level of accuracy, as all components within the system function with clockwork precision. Yet it takes constant monitoring and efficient change management to keep your IT systems effective in the long run.
So what makes IT complexity reverse its benefits? Ironically, it’s the same thing that made it a good name in the first place—technological development. Many companies embrace digital transformation to speed up their operations, grow market share, and adopt new tools.
Moving too quickly, sometimes they encounter compatibility issues when integrating new technologies and systems that haven’t been properly tested. It leads to adding even more tools intended to address those problems, increasing the layers of complexity.
With more systems added, you need more hands to maintain and keep your systems running. In an attempt to keep up with the growing business needs and with the technology still a work in progress, organizations are at a high risk of hiring inadequate IT talent. This often results in poor decision-making, making IT systems difficult to manage.
Innovation leads the way but requires continuous attention to detail: complex systems have increased security risks attached by default. This pushes businesses to expand their IT departments and invest in more and more security-related tools and activities, adding more layers to the existing IT systems.
What are the possible negative implications of IT complexity?
As more companies shift toward remote-first working policies, IT departments have to support remote employees, ensure security measures are in place, and remove redundant technologies simultaneously. It’s not surprising that 66% of IT professionals indicate that increasing complexity makes it difficult to cope with their tasks.
The following are among the frequent top complications posed by the growing IT complexity.
- The lack of visibility of applications and infrastructure is the number one problem caused by overcomplicated systems. IT departments must maintain 360-degree visibility over operating activities to keep track of everything. Obtaining a bird-eye view when managing siloed platforms, technologies, and subsystems can be quite challenging. To cope with this task, a centralized management hub is clearly needed where all key performance metrics will be established.
- Poor scalability is another essential thing to factor in. Suppose your IT infrastructure doesn’t enjoy the automation benefits and requires many employees to do all sorts of manual work. In that case, you can run into a problem while attempting to scale your operations up or down. As a result, your project ROI can suffer significantly.
- Periodic delays in software delivery and updates are another consequence of the increasing complexity of your system that can affect your business performance. That is particularly the case if DevOps practices (namely, continuous delivery and continuous integration) are not implemented within your organization.
- Employee burnout is inevitable when workers are constantly dealing with inefficient systems. According to the research by HBR, about 82% of corporate specialists say the consequences of IT complexity are clear impediments to their success and productivity. Consequently, that can lead to a more considerable employee turnover and a bad employer brand image.
Use outside expertise to navigate IT complexity
In case any of the previously mentioned issues sound familiar to you, don’t worry! The good news is you’re not alone in this. In fact, there are hundreds of businesses in the same boat, and there’s no need to figure out a solution on your own and reinvent the wheel.
Companies like Syndicode specialize in helping enterprises deal with IT complexity issues. They’ve developed a systematic approach to this problem, resolving the same issue repeatedly. As they know exactly where to look, that can save you tons of time.
Using external expertise is a pretty standard way to resolve IT complexity issues, and, as the same report by HBR shows, 45% of global companies can testify to that.
So what are the other benefits of using an external vendor? Here are some considerations:
- A team dedicated to your company’s success. An external team doesn’t come with the same obligations as your typical employee: you can use external personnel for as long as there is an actual need for it. Most staff augmentation services vendors use a time and materials model or (rarely) a flat fee to serve this purpose.
- A perfect size fit. It goes without saying that an enterprise-level organization would expect a vendor to be capable of providing an external team of the appropriate size. The good news is that most outsourced companies have an established pipeline of candidates that allows scaling teams up or down effortlessly.
- Everyone gets to focus on their own thing. You can leave nerve-wracking activities to your outsourced partner while your employees can focus on important tasks contributing to your organization’s strategic goals. Let your external team handle all the heavy lifting.
Third-party vendors can be particularly effective when you are only getting started to combat the negative consequences of IT complexity. Outsourced teams have available resources to take on a new project, ramping up their operations rapidly. A remote team is your perfect choice if you are off to a quick start.
Summing up: The value of an outside perspective
IT complexity can be both an asset and a liability to your organization. Without proper management, your IT infrastructure can develop into an excessive, redundant mechanism that no longer serves the strategic objectives of your business. Like a musical instrument that suddenly goes flat, it needs to be fine-tuned.
There are many reasons why IT complexity can affect your organization negatively, whether it’s due to old legacy systems or growing technical debt. To minimize impact, IT leaders need standard operating protocols and a great deal of automation. Also, skilled IT specialists play an instrumental role in getting this right.
Some short to long-term implications of IT complexity include poorer ROI, shipment delays, and higher employee turnover. A first step to mitigate these consequences would be setting up a central management hub and having complete visibility of all processes. But that isn’t something that can be created in a couple of days.