Insight

Prioritizing IT work in the wake of COVID-19

For technology leaders, it is critically important to focus on how to set priorities and make tradeoffs, while keeping in mind the effects on people, process, and technology.

Jason Byrd

Jason Byrd

Managing Director, CIO Advisory, KPMG US

+1 214-707-4842

IT leaders deal with major disruptions for a living; however the COVID-19 pandemic presents an entirely new level of challenge when it comes to ensuring they are driving value from their portfolio by doing the right work, at the right time, with the right resources. Demand for IT support was suddenly and dramatically heightened while at the same time resource capacity was upended with "shelter in place" orders. Business strategies changed, and hence portfolio prioritization criteria need to change. Discretionary spend for technology has come under threat.

Only a thoughtful integrated business strategy can adapt rapidly enough to changing market conditions and customer demands to remain relevant. The same tactics and frameworks to assess, prioritize, and manage complex problems must be employed, only with added urgency. In our experience, leaders who successfully steer their organization this time will move progressively through the phases of reset, recovery and emergence into the new reality. Our recent client discussions have validated these gates as important to prioritizing work during times of uncertainty:

  1. Criticality—Focus on the truly urgent vs. the important areas of the business: “I’m trying to deal with exploding online loads, people working remotely, and new cyber threats. Every day it’s something new, and I need to prioritize”
  2. Impact—Get a holistic view of the work based on outcomes or business capabilities across the impacted IT estate: “Many of our hard won digital business transformation initiatives need to emerge from this event in a more competitive and adaptive stance.”
  3. Sequencing—Prioritize what is truly urgent for today, what efforts should be paused and where investments should be accelerated: “We need to sequence our work to immediately reset the core operations and then seek to launch work that helps the business recover and kick off longer tail work to deliver results on the new reality.”
  4. Resourcing—Mobilize and activate your resources to support the priorities: “We need to constantly reinvest in our resources and capital for winning ideas, ensuring that we have a model that is scalable, flexible and agile.”

This paper offers qualifying questions to help you assess where you are as well as key actions for the reset, recover, and new reality phases of COVID-19 business impact.

Prioritizing work when everything is a priority: From triage to the new reality
For technology leaders, it is critically important to focus on how to set priorities and make tradeoffs, while keeping in mind the effects on people, process, and technology.