how much does managed it services cost

How Much Do Managed IT Services Cost?

When you consider the costs of hiring talent, implementing systems yourself, building expertise, and ongoing in-house support costs, the case for managed IT services is already made. But once potential market intelligence and cost-savings in sourcing the latest technologies are also factored in, CIOs don’t waste time in asking how much do managed IT services cost?  

By bridging the organization with fully managed IT services, there’s vast potential to reduce overheads across the entire IT stack. What’s more, experienced IT companies add know-how to business processes – such as for data security and compliance – making outsourced IT a lucrative proposition. 

Managed IT Services Pricing Models

If you’ve tried searching for “how much should managed IT services cost?”, most likely you’ve come up empty-handed. That’s because every IT environment is unique and every business’s needs are different. 

Different technologies, different use cases, and varying numbers of users all make fixed pricing moot for IT companies. 

In fact, a static pricing model is a bad value for both parties: your organization will end up paying for services it doesn’t need, and the MSP will be perceived as providing low quality of service.

It’s why managed IT pricing models are commonly broken down into six categories:

  1. Per-User
  2. Per-Device
  3. Tiered
  4. Monitoring Only
  5. Comprehensive
  6. A La Carte

How Much Do Managed IT Services Cost: That Depends on Your Pricing Model

1. List

Your company is billed as per the number of users supported every month. Instead of being billed per device, your invoice will be broken down into ‘per user per month’. 

Note that the pricing model and the level of support may vary as well. For instance, you can opt for services such as:

  • Hardware – Provision of a computer, mobile device, connectivity solution, etc.
  • Helpdesk – Prioritized helpdesk support for users
  • Network and Security – Inclusion on the company’s network, 24/7 support monitoring, VPN, etc.

2. Per-Device

Businesses operating with the per-device model can expect to pay a flat fee for each device supported in your IT ecosystem. For instance: per server, per desktop, per managed network, and per network printer.

Since the fee is based on the type and number of devices, pricing can be very straightforward – ideal if you’re looking for ironclad certainty around your budget. 

3. Tiered

As the name suggests, tiered pricing models are pre-prepared packages, with varying service levels. Often, tiers range from ‘basic’ to ‘premium’, increasing in the scope of services and service guarantees.

Tiered IT managed services pricing can provide businesses with all the services it needs while maintaining a relatively simple pricing structure.

4. Monitoring Only

managed it services pricesº

Monitoring and alerting services are ideal for businesses that already have an in-house team and are looking to:

  • Improving oversight over IT systems
  • Onboard advanced full-time monitoring
  • Supplement internal teams

Again, multiple service levels are available, and you can have everything from your network to cloud services to endpoints monitored. 

5. Comprehensive

The flexibility of this model allows businesses to gauge and budget IT expenses and make more precise IT cost forecasts. 

Generally, this model features on-site and remote support, 24/7 threat alerts, virtual chief information officer (VCIO) management services, and more.

Depending on the nature of the contract, it can be as ‘comprehensive’ as outsourcing every aspect of your IT.

6. A La Carte

This model provides a customizable pricing model built for specific IT services your company demands. Note that not every managed IT service provider offers such flexibility.

What Affects Managed IT Services Prices (and How You Can Reduce Costs)

While small to large-sized businesses alike can significantly benefit from managed IT services, the IT demands of every business vary greatly (and as a result, so do service costs). 

When you’re trying to understand what managed IT services cost for a business like yours, remember this: the more complex a businesses’ technology matrix, the more it costs to maintain. 

Four factors that influence managed IT service pricing are: 

  • Headcount – Your organization’s headcount (number of active employees) significantly influences the pricing as most IT firms use a per user per month pricing model. 
  • The size & sophistication of your IT systems – The more complex your technological systems are, and the higher level of management you choose, the more costly managed IT services become. 
  • Backup – The amount of backup data storage, the frequency of onsite backups, and whether you perform cloud or non-cloud backups will influence pricing.
  • Cloud Costs – Remote support will influence the cost of managed IT services for businesses operating in the cloud.

Should You Opt for Break/Fix Services to “Save” Managed IT Services Costs?

it managed services pricing

Unless yours is a very small business with a static IT environment, it’s best to avoid break/fix services. 

Though these “pay as you go” IT services offered may seem like you’re saving on recurring costs, the reality is when problems do occur, break/fix costs will exceed managed IT costs

Here are a few reasons why you should look beyond break/fix:

  1. Guaranteed downtime – Techs will fix the issue only after it has impacted your business
  2. No monitoring – You’ll never know of potential gaps and vulnerabilities in your systems until they become points of failure.
  3. Expensive hourly rate– Since break/fix companies have no incentive to resolve problems as fast as possible, costs rack up quickly (and without a cost cap).
  4. Recurring issues – It’s not that break/fix companies don’t fix issues, it’s just that they are limited by the remit of the contract – which is to solve the problem, not to implement root-cause fixes.
  5. Cybersecurity issues – Lack of monitoring, multiple vendors, and the lack of a cybersecurity policy will create vulnerabilities in your IT environment.

We Can Enable Savings With Our IT Managed Services Pricing  

We have a simple guiding philosophy at Netsurit – supporting the dreams of the doers. 

As a business owner, you won’t have to worry about “how much do managed IT services cost?” because with us you’ll never pay for services you don’t need. Instead, you’ll benefit from transparent pricing and ironclad SLAs that ensure you receive the service you expect.

We’ll explain the most efficient ways of solving your challenges, and customize solutions so that they fit your exact needs. 

If it’s not a win-win scenario, it’s not Netsurit. Discuss your requirements with us today and find out how we’ll help you save on your IT. 

benefits of it outsourcing

The Advantages & Disadvantages of Outsourcing IT Services

Organizations worldwide rely on the benefits of IT outsourcing for software development, data operations, remote e-commerce strategy, support services, and design. 

IT outsourcing lets you focus on cultivating organizational growth while delegating the responsibility for your IT needs to an expert service provider. So, should you be outsourcing your company’s IT? 

In this article, we’ll talk about:

  • IT outsourcing pros and cons
  • How to get started with outsourcing your IT 
  • Whether you should outsource your IT

Benefits of Outsourcing IT Services

While your IT experts may be excellent professionals, the complexity of modern IT stacks means it’s extremely difficult to maintain up-to-date expertise in-house. That’s where business process outsourcing can help. 

Outsourcing information technology services to experienced IT professionals lets business owners focus on core business objectives and realize greater value from their IT spend.

The top five advantages of IT outsourcing include:

  1. Cost-effectiveness – Small companies can benefit from reduced IT costs as outsourcing costs less than in-house IT development.
  2. Improved scalability – Benefit from a scalable IT infrastructure, both in terms of technical and human resources.
  3. Find needed skills – Leverage the expertise of industry-leading IT specialists with rare skills.
  4. Enhanced performance – Reduce organizational complexity, administrative burden, and lower payroll.
  5. Focus on core competencies – Allow your team to focus on tasks that support business growth.

Though IT outsourcing was popular before the COVID-19 pandemic, in the months after, it has grown significantly. As organizations transition to long-term remote operations, the advantages of IT outsourcing have become more apparent. Some of these include:

  • Reduced capital expenditure 
  • Predictable IT costs
  • Improved technical support and IT services
  • End-user support (on-site and remote support)
  • Access to new IT skills, knowledge, and technologies
  • Faster implementation of new technologies
  • Reduced risk of violating compliance standards

Disadvantages of Outsourcing IT

advantages of outsourcing it services

Despite the many IT outsourcing benefits, there can be drawbacks to an outsourced IT service.

Larger companies, for instance, may not benefit as much as medium businesses because their greater demands may warrant maintaining an in-house IT team. Additionally, large enterprises tend to operate with long-term IT staff and their own data center. 

As a company grows, so does the level of due diligence required to hire or outsource technical support services. Other disadvantages that may arise when companies outsource include: 

  • Data security risks – Issues can arise with intellectual property and sensitive data if the managed IT services provider outsources work.
  • Unfamiliarity with protocol – Outsourced professionals may need some time to understand your IT stack and business processes.
  • Hidden costs – Costs can grow out of control if using a long-term staff augmentation model. That said, if you use managed services with detailed SLAs, costs should be transparent and tied to task outcomes.
  • May diminish morale – If outsourcing results in layoffs and employee transfers, it can lower morale. 
Learn more:

Should You Insource or Outsource Your IT?

Every business is unique, having its own operational needs, customer service requirements and more. But the one thing that’s common across almost all organizations is the reliance on IT. 

Whatever your industry, information technology will be at the heart of:

  • Ecommerce
  • Collaboration and communication
  • Customer service
  • Business intelligence
  • And so much more

With such diverse functions, it’s vital that your business growth is not restricted by limited IT expertise and resources. That’s why for most businesses the many benefits of IT outsourcing vastly outweigh any pitfalls. 

Work With a Team That Supports the Dreams of the Doers 

For over 23 years, Netsurit has been helping businesses meet IT needs and reach new heights. 

Understand the IT outsourcing advantages and disadvantages for your business. Discuss your requirements with an expert IT professional today. 

managed services vs staff augmentation

Staff Augmentation vs Managed Services: Which Should You Choose?

The differences behind staff augmentation vs managed services may seem small, they’re far from the same thing. In fact, depending on the needs of your organization, choosing the wrong option can significantly reduce the return on investment you receive. 

In this article we’ll discuss both of these outsourcing models and help you decide which option is best for you:

  • What is staff augmentation and its pros and cons
  • What are managed services and its pros and cons
  • What factors influence managed services vs staff augmentation
  • How to decide which option is the best for you

Staff Augmentation

Staff augmentation is a business process outsourcing strategy that organizations use when they need to complement the skill set and resources of an in-house team. 

Outsourced professionals are usually brought in for short periods of time, often to implement projects or meet unforeseen demands. Generally, you will be liable for quality assurance and managing your own IT infrastructure. 

As a short-term solution, staff augmentation offers:

  • Cost-Effectiveness Fulfill business needs without paying full-time wages. 
  • Flexibility – Access new IT skills and improve organizational scalability.

Protection from attrition Stay better protected against employee migration.

Staff Augmentation Model – Benefits & Drawbacks

Benefits Drawbacks
  • On-demand scalability
  • Can quickly resolve staff shortages
  • Gain missing skills and capabilities
  • IT stack remains under your management
  • No service level commitments
  • Knowledge stays with the individual
  • Increases subcontractor overheads
  • Limits planning for management
  • Does not resolve issues of insufficient staffing
  • Can be expensive in the long-term
  • Lack of skills

As a long-term solution, staff augmentation loses its appeal. It results in higher labor costs, additional administrative and contracting costs, which offset the advantage of savings on payroll. 

Managed Services

Managed services look to fulfill the same role as staff augmentation but aim to deliver an outcome rather than an input. Meaning, managed services are value-based, and staff augmentation is volume-based. 

Pricing is tied to the task’s outcome, and should service requirements disappear, so do their respective costs, allowing for better on-demand scalability. 

Naturally, value creation is a focal point for successful managed services. Since the provider assumes all risk, there is greater incentive to streamline processes to meet service commitments. In simple terms, you should receive better ROI than if you were to simply have augmented staff.

Managed Service Models – Benefits & Drawbacks

Benefits Drawbacks
  • Cost-effective even in the long term
  • Leverage new skills and knowledge
  • Deploy institution-wide security policies and coverage
  • Benefit from compliance insight
  • Predictable costs and service outcomes
  • Operational performance metrics
  • Gain the same skills and flexibility of staff augmentation
  • Scalability to grow with business
  • Potential for data security risks if you don’t know who’s handling your systems
  • Initial time for the MSP to understand your business requirements
  • Some MSPs have rigid pricing structures which may mean paying for services you don’t need

Comparing Staff Augmentation vs Managed Services

staff augmentation vs managed services

As similar as staff augmentation and managed services might seem, there are core differences that may make one or the other more suitable for your needs. 
Staff augmentation can be considered out-tasking, where a certain amount of working hours are provided at a preset rate. Managed services, on the other hand, are outcome-driven. Specific performance metrics are to be met while the risk remains with the managed IT services provider (MSP).

Staff Augmentation vs Managed Services Comparison

Staff Augmentation Managed Services (Outsourcing)
  • Knowledge remains with the individual
  • Requires no change to operating model
  • Customer managed delivery model
  • Costs fixed to hours worked & availability
  • No service delivery commitments relative to output
  • No incentive to maximize value from service
  • Superior customer service
  • Price fixed to service agreements
  • Knowledge is documented and transferable
  • Supplier managed delivery model
  • Service levels are service delivery commitments
  • Employees may be impacted by new assets and contracts given to the supplier
  • Service provider assumes partial or complete responsibility for IT execution

There’s a Third Way… the Hybrid Approach

IT requirements are rarely static and it’s not uncommon for businesses to pursue multiple projects at the same time.

That’s where the hybrid approach can be of tremendous benefit. It lets you take advantage of the:

  • Accountability, value, and high service levels of MSPs; and
  • Specialization that’s achievable with staff augmentation.

Not sure how that might work? 

A fairly common scenario is when a business hires an MSP to handle day-to-day IT tasks and long-term IT management . In addition to that, it hires specialists to work on one-off projects (typically involving proprietary, legacy, or very specialized technologies) that are in their finishing stages.

Deciding Factors for Managed Services vs Staff Augmentation

Your company’s needs, focus, and mission statement dictate whether additional staff through staff augmentation or MSPs are best for your organization. 

As a general rule of thumb, managed IT services offer better value for most businesses because they are results-driven. You simply set goals and performance targets, letting the MSP allocate resources and undertake project management to achieve them most efficiently. 

Full-service IT companies also provide a broad range of services, which means you can pick and choose ones that suit your business needs.

Staff augmentation is usually reserved for extremely specialized projects, such as niche app development or supporting proprietary/legacy software. In that case, supplementing in-house talent can be the better option.
Another factor is the period of time you need skills for. Staff augmentation may be preferable as a weeks-long engagement, but anything longer than that and an MSP is the better option.

Learn more:

Which Strategy Is Right for You?

Staff augmentation, managed services, and a hybrid approach have a time and place in every IT scenario.

Not sure which route is best for your business? Talk to us. Netsurit is a leading managed IT services provider that works with small, mid-sized, and large businesses. 

Our clients rely on us to offer cost-effective, efficient solutions that satisfy their needs. Whether you opt for managed services or augment your in-house staff with IT experts, you’ll  benefit from:

  • Over 24 years of experience
  • Extensive support
  • A single point of contact for all your needs
  • An impeccable cybersecurity record

Discuss your requirements with us today.

The role of IT in business

Centre for Reproductive Rights outsources helpdesk to Netsurit

The Center for Reproductive Rights, a non-profit organization that focuses on protecting reproductive rights as fundamental human rights around the world, has outsourced its helpdesk to managed services provider (MSP) Netsurit. Headquartered in New York, the Center partnered with Netsurit in 2017, and has since enjoyed benefits such as reduction in IT infrastructure costs, redirection of its IT team’s skills to key areas, and increased user satisfaction.

The Center is a legal innovator seeking to fundamentally transform the landscape of reproductive health and rights worldwide. It has defined the course of reproductive rights through its victories in courts around the world, as well as at the United Nations.

“We have staff stationed all around the country and the world,” says Timothy Dedman, IT Operations Manager at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Especially during the Covid-19 pandemic having a reliable, single point of communication we can confidently provide to staff has been integral to our success. Our prior helpdesk company was not as communicative or as proactive as we needed, to continue to do important work regarding international human rights.”

Dedman says the Center was seeking higher levels of communication and accountability from its helpdesk provider, as well as more consistent service delivery and the ability to partner on projects. This was becoming increasingly important as the organization continues to grow and has to leverage its helpdesk to deliver required services to its staff.

Netsurit’s commitment to end-user functionality, and incident management and escalation services, are designed to resolve user issues and requests as quickly as possible. With Netsurit, the Center’s helpdesk system has been optimized to minimize user wait times for incidents and requests, deliver decisive solutions as quickly as possible, and maintain function of the organization’s IT infrastructure.

“I have been with the Center for six years and have worked with many external contractors in that time as well as three helpdesk providers,” says Dedman. “In my experience, Netsurit is easily the best and most responsive and responsible of those three and is at the top of the list for all external contractors period. While a helpdesk relationship is by its nature always a work in progress, I am heartened that after three years management continues to be responsive and receptive.

Dedman says Netsurit was chosen as the right partner for the Center based on the services and pricing the MSP is able to offer, and also because speaking at length with the management team provided confidence in their ability to meet the Centre’s needs.

“Netsurit has been a good partner, open to constructive feedback and to evolving our relationship as our needs have changed,” he adds. “Having an existing IT presence at the Center has been a challenge for some companies we worked with in the past, but the Netsurit team was receptive and adaptive to this model, and has always been highly communicative when it comes to requests that may need to be escalated to us for internal resolution or review. Having Netsurit on board has helped us to share the IT workload, both for daily issues and for routine upkeep matters like patching. This allows us more time to focus on other, more strategic, IT issues.”

CIOs in a COVID-19 world

National reading campaign for children gets Pastel in the cloud powered by Netsurit and Windows Virtual Desktop.

Traditional businesses have had to adapt to new realities of a post-virus world and the implications for CIOs will be profound

COVID-19 is not only a health crisis. The global reaction to this pandemic continues to affect government, society and communities, commerce, the running of organisations, the nature of work, technological innovation and rollouts, education, and more. While we may resolve the health crisis with vaccines, herd-immunity, and treatments, the effects on non-health factors will endure for a while, and possibly forever. That’s what CIOs have to think about.

But in the meantime, they need to plan for an “in-crisis” period. The health crisis may take a year or more to resolve. In that time, CIOs will have to face other challenges thrown up by the crisis itself, by the activities of governments and regulatory bodies, by competitors, and indeed, by themselves and their own organisation’s actions.

The immediate CIO action in response to COVID-19 has been discussed at length and largely enacted: remote work, remote meetings, no travel, increased use of collaborative tools, more video, more emails, and so on. Equally, the platforms on which these digital enablers rely have been beefed up. And many organisations with digital products have required their CIOs to provision for additional product sales.

Now, our initial reaction to the crisis requires CIOs to step back and re-examine what they’ve done, whether they want to keep doing it, and if so, how?

The future of remote work

Let’s take remote work as an example. It may not be permanent. On 31 March, Neil Webb, the Director of the British Council of Theatre and Dance, tweeted: “You are not working from home; you are at your home during a crisis trying to work.” Most South Africans agree, with 86% wanting to go back to work according to a survey by Giant Leap, a local workplace consultancy. What’s more, only 43% of South Africans have jobs which allow them to work from home, at least some of the time anyway.

So, working from home is not the next big thing that CIOs need to convert into policies and procedures – they have to realise that it’s temporary, but not too temporary. CIOs need to beef up security for home-workers who are outside firewalls, and who are often working from home for the first time. They have to run sensitisation and information campaigns for staff working with company data outside the organisation’s domain. They have to provide remote “on-site” support at people’s homes. And they have to give some serious thought to financing the remote worker’s infrastructure – internet, and web-based meeting and collaboration software. But less than 10% of this will stick for more than a year.

Also, now that the initial rush is over, CIOs will need to give some thought to digitally wrapping the organisation’s physical products. They need to make as much of the product digitally visible and accessible as possible. They have to examine the customer journey in detail and remove as many physical touchpoints as possible – AI has proven useful here. They must make website searches way better than they are now. They should also re-examine their often-sloppy digital customer experience and interactions.

“Contact us” is not the first point in your email spam campaign. When a customer contacts you, they want to – you guessed it – actually contact you. CIOs need to look at how much of the browse, examine, and buy process can be digital. VR, or near VR, is useful in allowing customers to experience the product from a distance. Finally, CIOs need to rework the delivery pipeline so that the last mile is the only physical part of the product.

Embracing the new normal

Then CIOs need to look at the in-pandemic new normal. They must consider social and real distance factors, digitalisation, delivery ecosystems, localisation where appropriate, renegotiating, and re-contracting the supply chain. There are several changes – some permanent, some not – that CIOs need to consider.

Finally, the post-pandemic new normal needs thinking about. There will be changes to global trade, supply chains, the digital/physical mix, how we get work done, and many other corporate areas. Perhaps more importantly, societies will change, buying patterns will be permanently altered, social contracts will be questioned and possibly overthrown, governments may fall, and even fundamental economic principles may change.

Some industries, like sports, hospitality, conferencing will be deeply affected, and some will thrive – technology being the most obvious. However, these successes and failures all have implications. This is the post-crisis new normal that CIOs need to accommodate.

Benefits of cloud computing for business

Cloud computing is a means of storing data independently on the internet. Many businesses choose this method of data storage over local servers due to the benefits. Read about the benefits of cloud computing for business below:

Money saver

Cloud computing is a money saver. Instead of paying for the finest hardware upgrades, the strongest security (for your business and your software), the electricity needed to power hardware, regular maintenance and more, you could move over to cloud computing and get a lot more for a lot less. Make the right decision for your business’ finances.

Fast performance

The servers used for cloud computing are of a very high quality due to their constant performance updates. These servers run at high speeds and always keep you one step ahead of your competitors. Cloud computing is also able to distribute workloads between servers so that the performance is consistently fast, and problems are unlikely to occur.

Enhanced security

Keeping your data in a remote location keeps it protected from viruses, hacking and other potential threats. If your business is victim to a break-in you will not have to worry about your data being stolen. The cloud computing service will also ensure that any viral threats are detected and eliminated before reaching your data.

Improved efficiency

Due to the speed of the internet, employees can access data quickly and easily. The fact that there is no extra focus on running local servers, there is more time for employees to focus on other important aspects of the business.


How do you properly measure your internal IT department?

The key is to first understand that your IT department is really a “business results department.” Technology is nothing more than the medium through which IT sets up a business for success. You’ll see this concept spelled out in detail in our recent blog feature.

In short, the goal of any IT department, regardless of the company it serves, is to move the business forward. They do that through two distinct focuses: Proactive tasks and reactive tasks. Your goal is to measure how effectively your IT department handles both.


Taking a long view is vital for any business. Every business has five-year goals and many have 10-year goals. IT plays a crucial role in ensuring the business is in position to reach those goals. Unfortunately, IT departments are often viewed as problem solvers. There’s a technology problem and the IT department receives a service request to fix it. While that’s important, an IT department that spends all its time fire-fighting won’t help move the business forward.

You want to ensure your IT department is helping you reach your short-, mid-, and long-term goals: from this quarter to 10 years from now. As abstract as that is, it’s something that you can measure if you know what to look for. First, understand what proactive steps your IT department can take to help you reach your goals and avoid potential roadblocks. Here are some questions you can ask that will help guide you:

  • Machine Updates: Do you have the latest patches? How about antivirus software?
  • Servers: Do you have the proper size? Are they being overburdened or reaching capacity? Will you need larger servers as you grow? How soon do you anticipate needing to upgrade?
  • IT Budget Management: Your IT team could ultimately help improve your financial efficiency if your software or services costs are too high. Are you paying too much for licenses? Not utilizing all of the software you’re paying for?
  • Technology Roadmaps: What are your present business requirements and what technology do you need to supplement those requirements? What are your future business goals and what technologies will help get your business there? When should you start investing in technologies you’ll need in the future?

Next, establish measurable metrics for tracking progress on those proactive steps, wherever possible. These performance indicators can include reports on server capacity, software utilization or other technology needs your business uses where efficiency can be tracked. It can also include tracking where your business has encountered problems that could have been avoided by being more proactive. Lean on your IT team to help you create these metrics. This collaboration will help by giving them agency in goal-setting. Plus, as your company’s technology experts, they’ll have the best understanding of how to realistically track progress for these items.

Finally, establish regular check-ins. Most companies only check in with their IT department monthly or quarterly. If you want your IT department moving in concert with the rest of your business, establish a weekly check-in. Not only will regular touch-points help keep your IT department working proactively, they will also help improve your experience with IT as a CEO or client. You’ll have a better understanding of what your IT department is up to, and weekly check-ins also give your IT team a chance to set long- and short-term expectations, further improving two-way communication.


No matter how proactive your IT department is, problems will inevitably arise. When you think about how effective your IT department is at solving these problems, try to think about what the CEO and the client want. They don’t see what goes on behind the scenes. When they have a service request, they just want to know the job is done right and done quickly. When creating metrics to track your IT department’s performance in a reactive setting, you want to measure for proficiency and efficiency. Here are a few tips for establishing metrics:

  • Productivity Metrics: Response time, resolution time, number of tickets closed and incidents per device should all be tracked with objective data and logged to view progress over time.
  • Quality Checks: Appoint someone to review a sample of randomly-selected closed tickets and give feedback to the team members who worked on the tickets. This process could take as little as an hour a week.
  • End User Satisfaction: Establish a net promoter score on every ticket closed. When feedback is received it is sent to the key leaders or managers in the team and can be incorporated into your review process with the team.

Using quality metrics to track your IT department’s proficiency, efficiency and customer satisfaction will help your business immensely in the long run.

If you’re measuring properly, you will be able to identify problems in your process and solve them before your IT department gets a bad review from a client or a service request ticket goes weeks without being resolved. Even when you’re measuring your IT department’s reactiveness you’re doing so with an eye toward being proactive.

Finally, whether you’re measuring for reactiveness or proactiveness, the most important thing you can do to measure your internal IT department is to review them regularly. Make it an open conversation. Establish weekly and monthly check-ins. Review short-view (weekly) and long-view (monthly and quarterly) data.

The more frequently you critically examine your IT department and the more you involve the department in its own improvement, the more effective everyone will be at moving your business forward.

Being agile about agility

Leaders need to accept that business agility will be critical in the
post-pandemic world

Forget deep technical competencies for the moment. The new essential organisational capabilities – at least until the pandemic is over – are flexibility (to be able to switch direction), innovation (to meet fresh challenges in new ways), agility (to rapidly respond to changing requirements), and resilience (to sustain the organisation through difficult times).

Let’s focus on agility. Agility involves more than setting up a few teams and telling them to do things quickly. There are skills to develop and tools to prepare, of course, but agility is not about tools, techniques, and teams. Instead, it is about the leaders and managers of the organisation – that’s where agile initiatives succeed or fail.

However, the apparent success of agility in many organisations may be a negative thing: it looks easy and logical and is such an obvious choice that many executives miss its downsides.

Let’s look at the upsides first. The benefits of an agile approach are clear:

  • Rapid response to changing customer requirements – better product quality
  • Customer intimacy – high customer satisfaction
  • High team morale – self-managed teams
  • Increased collaboration – cross-functional teams
  • Fit for purpose teams – focused on results, not outputs
  • Performance visibility – short feedback and measurement cycles
  • Reduced risk – Incremental successes and failures provide risk-reducing options
  • Reduced investment – Incremental investment in what works

This list could prompt executives to rush to agile at scale, but there are downsides too:

  • “Indefinite projects” where the outcome is, as yet, unknown – time and costs are also unpredictable
  • Skill-dependent teams – agile requires a higher level of skills and decision-making from individuals
  • Neglect of documentation – self-documenting processes must be implemented
  • Financing in increments is not easy – most GAAP practices are based on annual cycles

Nevertheless, executives may suggest that the pros outweigh the cons, but the Project Management Institute (PMI) reports that 44% of projects are predictive (waterfall) in nature, and only 30% are agile, while the rest are hybrid. This suggests that there are many projects, indeed many functions, within an organisation that would not benefit from a purely agile approach.

Predictive projects (and functions) are appropriate where:

  • There is a sequential workflow, and where a specific outcome is needed
  • The expected results are predictable and well-defined
  • Processes and results are highly regulated, such as in pharmaceuticals, engineering, and some manufacturing
  • Customers play a limited role in the outcome
  • Intensive documentation is needed

Most organisations have predictive and regulated operations, but there will be some functions and projects that can benefit from an agile approach – the trick is to separate them. Neither will the predictive/agile split be a clean one – there will be flavours of each in all departments.

Perhaps the approach to adopt is a “test and refine” route, as a way of analysing which functions could be moved to agile, and which should remain within the traditional sequential and linear command structure. The test and refine approach is an agile technique, and the first step is to adopt agile thinking in the leadership team.

A quick review:

  • An agile team works closely with customers.
  • The teams break large and complex problems into separate components.
  • They devise solutions for each component by rapidly prototyping and testing and refining their solution with customers.
  • The feedback from their customers is included in the next cycle, and eventually, the separate solutions are combined into a logical outcome.

When leaders adopt agile thinking, they regard various parts of the organisation as their customer. Organisations are more successful where their agile leadership team takes a hands-on and collaborative approach to organisational change. They consult with their internal customers, develop prototype solutions, test them, and solicit feedback – all in short cycles. They concentrate on removing constraints rather than delegating tasks. They focus on staff satisfaction and on results rather than controls and bureaucracy. Finally, they become agile advocates, rather than micro-managers.

A leadership team that has adopted agile thinking will be first to recognise that the final outcome cannot be predicted. They don’t know how many agile teams will result from their efforts, nor do they know which department will be fully agile, and which will adopt a hybrid approach. Neither will they know what bureaucratic and governance roadblocks will be thrown up or uncovered. But because this team has the power to make decisions and change things, their potential to implement agility successfully is much greater than ordinary agile teams.

Dare your employees to dream