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Tue 12 Feb 2008 02:36 PM

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The supermen syndrome

Entries to the NME Innovation Awards tell stories of overstretched IT teams who have achieved goals against all odds. The bad news is that the resource constraints show no sign of abating for the next few years

Over the last two weeks, nominations for the NME Innovation Awards 2008, across the various categories, have been coming in thick and fast. These nominations exhibit the highest quality in deployments, state-of-the-art technologies and the best in work ethics that clearly set forth that the Middle East is no laggard when it comes to IT implementations and usage.

They also showcase the extraordinary and almost superhuman effort that is invested by IT managers and their teams to make technology projects a success in their organisations. This includes working within tight budgets, stretching limited resources and group members taking on multiple roles of strategisers one day and maintenance staff the next.

The IT team of the Toursim Development and Investment Company in Abu Dhabi is a good example of how small teams in the region stretch their capabilities to make technology projects possible and successful. The five-member IT team - and that includes the IT manager - deployed two new fully-redundant datacentres within the space of eight months. This happened in parallel to the team's other daily functions which included application support and assuring network reliability. (Read more on how they finished their Herculean task in the March issue of NME.)

Often these constrained manpower resources are a result of the fact that the IT manager in question cannot find adequately skilled personnel in the region. The shortage of such people hits them hard and many an IT manager chooses to run with his existing small team - however many projects are happening or are on their way - rather than hire an incompetent person who will demand extra time and effort in training. What's more, with all this under his belt as well, the new hire might not turn out to be a good hand to have around.

Others have to restrict the size of their teams because of a lack of budgets. These managers are often instructed by the higher management of their organisations to avoid taking on new people in order to trim costs on technology. However, these measures can have a backlash because an overstretched IT team may have time only to lurch from one crisis to the next and have none to dedicate to understanding and working towards long term goals.

Higher management in an organisation has to understand that not only does a small IT team hamper productivity eventually but that the team has to be peppered by a fair number of business-oriented thinkers, who can see beyond the immediate technical needs of the organisation and can drive the entire group towards achieving strategic aims.

For the next few years though, as the realisation grows among management heads and the region's resources in trained and skilled IT personnel increase, IT managers might have to continue to extract the most they can out of their miniscule teams.

We, at NME, respect the ground-breaking work that these teams do against all odds and in order to ensure that more of these groups can file their nominations for the upcoming NME Innovation Awards 2008 - and to ensure that the awards go truly to the best among them - we have extended the deadline for entries to March 15th, 2008.

So what are you waiting for? Log onto www.itp.net/events/nmeawards08 , pick the category that describes your story best, download the official nomination form and send in your entries.

Meanwhile, if you need more details, have some doubts, or just have an interesting story to share on how your IT team functions in your organisation, write to me at sathya.ashok@itp.com.

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