Leading an IT team into a bimodal model can be a little like trying to tame a two-headed hydra. In a sense, you’re dealing with two different beasts and the feat of getting both to exist in harmony may seem utterly impossible.

Bimodal, while not a new concept, is at the forefront of many CIO's minds due to demands on IT for speed and agility, which characterize mode 2. Traditionally, CIOs have been responsible for executing both mode 1 — sustaining existing day-to-day processes — and mode 2 — exploring cutting edge ideas and technology. 

However in most organizations mode 1 occupies much more of IT’s time. To some degree, I think that’s been frustrating for IT professionals because most didn’t choose careers in technology because they wanted to close help desk tickets. They chose to work in technology because they wanted to innovate and improve lives.

So how do CIOs find a happy medium for their IT teams? Prioritizing projects and processes, utilizing technology to do the heavy lifting and measuring success is a great start.

Start with Business Processes

According to Gartner, 75 percent of IT departments will be operating in a bimodal fashion by 2017. At the same time, Gartner also foresees half of those functioning in complete disarray.

Rather than getting caught up in defining mode 1 vs. mode 2 activities and projects, start by understanding the impact of those processes on your business. This is imperative as you’ve got hundreds of business processes within your organization. They include various resources, most involving IT personnel, and nearly all will impact IT systems. Those systems will determine which mode the team can employ.

Take, for example, identity access management. This is an important process touching on user provisioning, rights and risk management. Processes like this — that involve a “system of record” — require moving forward within a strict change management framework.

Alternatively, processes that impact systems of engagement can be rolled out in an agile and iterative process. These are more inclined to be mode 2. Consider the provisioning necessary for new employees: gaining network access and setting up the physical workstation. This requires coordination of multiple people. Using a flexible system that allows feedback and rapid changes to processes can result in improved efficiencies and lower costs.

Before IT can create a plan for tackling upcoming projects, it should first determine the systems needed and business risks involved. With the bigger picture in mind, IT can move forward with reduced risks and efficiently deliver the best solution available.

Give IT Time to Create 

In addition to IT’s desire for more visibility and strategic responsibility, the growing interest in bimodal — and the focus on mode 2 — has been driven by the business itself. Business users want intuitive cloud services, automation technology and digitizing processes for their organizations. They are looking to their technology to deliver efficiency and ease. 

Introducing technology that puts more power in the hands of the business user frees more time for IT to focus on putting mode 2 projects into action. Adopting no-code solutions with back-end automation allows business users access to execute their needs without IT involvement. IT can then devote more time to creative projects focused on market differentiation, integration and collaboration.

Measure Progress

Of course, any time you implement a new piece of technology or strategy, it’s important to measure and report on the ROI. Considering there are so many naysayers when it comes to bimodal — maybe even some within your own IT department — understanding how successful your team has been and showcasing that success is key to garnering support.

Define your objectives early on and benchmark progress against them. Look at things like whether or not operating in a bimodal fashion has reduced mode 1 resources without dropping the ball on tasks, and whether or not it’s maximized IT’s time for mode 2.

The Bottom Line

Navigating bimodal can be challenging, but like Gartner says, those IT departments that are not yet operating as such are at a real disadvantage. With business user buy in, clearly defined objectives and technology in place, CIOs can conquer their IT hydra.