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What is Bimodal IT and What Does it Mean to Your Business?

When Gartner first introduced the concept of Bimodal IT in 2014, they injected a fair amount of debate into IT best-practice conversations. While some IT executives are skeptics, we think there’s a lot to like about Bimodal IT.  One of the most significant advantages we see is how Bimodal IT can help IT departments better leverage their IT human resources.

If you’ve been busy with the typical day-to-day IT matters, you might have missed all the controversy, so let’s start with a quick recap of what Bimodal IT looks like. At its essence, Bimodal IT separates the IT function into two distinct groups:

Mode 1 – The reliable group.
Mode 1 focuses primarily on the mission-critical applications that run the business. Their main objective is to ensure the business has what it needs to function properly, but managing costs is typically a strong secondary objective. With so much at stake, this group places a premium on project success.

Mode 2 – The innovators.
Mode 2 is focused on delivering new applications, especially customer-facing apps. Innovation, speed, and agility are more critical to this group than cutting costs. “The innovators” are also more comfortable taking risks and often uses the motto if you’re going to fail, fail fast, and then retool.

Maximizing Your Most Important Assets

Notice that these two modes are groups of people, not technologies, so it only makes sense to hone in on how Bimodal IT can help us manage human resources better. Here are five ways we see Bimodal IT helping organizations maximize their most important assets:

1. Better hires. Unless you’re narrowing your focus to a specific job function, e.g., a SQL DBA, it can be tremendously difficult to write a thorough job description for an IT professional. While your IT personnel may still wear many hats, targeting new hires for a specific mode will help you hone in on candidates with the right characteristics and qualifications.

2. Higher retention. It’s not uncommon to hear an IT professional say, “this job isn’t what I thought it would be.” Employees who are more comfortable taking risks are not going to be happy in a job that doesn’t allow them time to explore new technologies. Conversely, those who like to manage and maintain systems aren’t going to be content in a role that requires them to also be visionaries. No one likes to be the square peg stuffed in the round hole. When people are doing what they signed on for, job satisfaction rises and they stay longer.

3. Empowering innovation.  Technology is advancing faster than ever. To keep up, the IT department needs to stay one step ahead of the trends and the competition. IT managers can put employees who thrive in a fast-paced work environment into a mode 2 role to maximize their contribution to the business.

4. Faster alignment-to-objectives. With any initiative, a certain amount of time is spent getting everyone’s buy-in on the objectives. When IT is bimodal, mode 1 managers don’t need to spend time convincing innovators of the importance of focusing on details like costs. And, mode 2 managers don’t need to spend time explaining the importance of taking a few risks to employees who are more comfortable with certainty.

5. Higher customer satisfaction. Since the mode 2 team often develops customer-facing apps, they will frequently need to interface with customers. By building a team staffed with personnel that are comfortable with this level of interaction, you will ensure better results and happier end-users.

Is Bimodal IT Right for You? Despite all of its advantages, Bimodal IT isn’t right for every organization. TierPoint advisors can help your team wade through the questions and arrive at a solution and IT structure that will work for your organization long term.  You can learn more by visiting our website or reaching out to us here.

(this blog post was originally published July 2015 via Cosentry)