Public sector technology professionals have a concerning lack of confidence in managing today’s complex, hybrid IT environments.

Several factors have contributed to this, including cloud migration, hybrid office environments, distributed workforces, and the rapid adoption of new technologies, according to the 2022 SolarWinds IT Trends Report.

The knock-on effect is significant. Almost half of the public sector respondents (49%) agreed return on investment has been negatively impacted by hybrid IT complexity.

These findings suggest a looming crisis. Public sector IT pros clearly lack confidence in their ability to manage today’s complex environments—only 9% said they felt extremely confident.

There are, however, ways to counter this crisis of confidence and prepare federal tech pros for this brave new world. Here are three to consider:

Invest in IT Training

The SolarWinds report pinpointed several strategies IT pros say can help them meet complexity issues—chief among them is training and upskilling.

IT pros know their limits. They also know IT management tools are key to addressing the rising complexity and its repercussions. But their confidence is waning, and many feel they have suboptimal visibility into infrastructure and networks and require training to get there.

Indeed, comprehensive, hands-on training—including the time to meaningfully experiment and learn these technologies—will be required to create a federal tech workforce more secure and confident in its skills.

Importantly, when communicating with management, tech pros should feel empowered to communicate what form of training is needed to help them battle complexity so senior leaders can prioritize skills development accordingly.

Find Solutions Aligned With the Size of the Organization

Each organization faces different challenges, but the size of the organization can be a big factor in determining which tools, strategies, or technologies are most effective in managing IT complexity.

For example, among enterprise tech professionals, more than a third (38%) attributed increased complexity to fragmentation between legacy technologies and new technologies, compared to 29% of respondents from smaller organizations.

In managing hybrid IT complexity, federal tech pros should always consider the size of their organization. Large organizations are often faced with maintaining and upgrading big legacy tech stacks. Tackling complexity at this scale requires investment, which can run a higher percentage of spending than it would for a small organization (which may be able to tackle complexity with a small team of external consultants). A cost-benefit analysis of a particular option can help determine the most effective course of action for an agency or department.

Agencies should also consider the right payment model. Though perpetual licenses or one-off payments can have budgetary benefits, tech pros are starting to see results from pay-as-you-go IT subscriptions. Offerings of this nature require ongoing commitment by tech vendors to guarantee the best results. Another benefit of pay-as-you-go IT is it more effectively focuses the minds of teams on how much they actually use. Seeing a direct link between cost, waste, and inefficiency forces tech pros to stay on top of maximizing their usage of what they buy.

Remember, We’ve Been Here Before

Acknowledging hybrid IT’s complexity is the first step to managing it. Technology is changing at a rapid rate, and solutions for today’s challenges may not be the solutions for tomorrow’s. In other words, change is a constant. In the federal IT environment, the systems IT pros know and love evolve through upgrades, and every new application adds yet another layer to manage.

Tech pros must understand this is a natural evolution of business transformation. Taking a step back and getting perspective on the pace of change (and why it’s necessary) can make a formidable challenge feel more manageable—and even provide a chance for healthy growth.

Complexity is a problem we all must fight. Though these three steps can help, federal tech pros should buckle up because cloud adoption and digital transformation are here to stay.

Brandon Shopp is Group Vice President, Product Strategy, at SolarWinds, a supplier of network and systems management software.

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