IT Intense & Traumatic?

The pressures mounting for European IT directors as they struggle to add value, maintain system stability and manage their workloads. The Pressure Point Index V (PPI V), Synstars annual poll of (700) European IT directors, reveals a four year peak in stress levels as the overall pressure gauge reaches an unprecedented figure of 200. Stress levels amongst European IT directors have been rising steadily by 2% per annum since 2002s PPI III*.

UK IT directors lay mid-table in the European league of worry (see table 1), below IT directors in Spain, Ireland and France but above their German and Dutch peers who worry least.

In manufacturing, 45% of IT directors say that the biggest contributor to stress is not having their voice heard at board level. For 42% the economic climate is adding to their woes. But demanding targets from their bosses (23%) and a feeling that theyre losing control (29%) are also pushing IT directors to the brink. For 60% of the industrys IT directors this is further exacerbated by their concerns over impossible work loads. So much so, that 81% and 90% respectively say that their health and personal relationships are suffering; not surprising, since 95% of IT directors in the manufacturing industry take work calls out of normal working hours.

Russell Flower, director of managed services at Synstar, observes:

Todays IT directors wear two hats. On one it says IT strategist while the other reads IT fire-fighter, but there simply arent enough hours in the day to wear both. Many companies avoid this situation by handing over the infrastructure maintenance, network monitoring and desktop support to third party experts. These external IT professionals can manage processes more efficiently and more cost effectively against guaranteed service levels. Delegating that headache enables the IT function to spend more time wearing the strategists hat and adding value to the business.

The stress spiral is so intense in the manufacturing industry that just over two thirds (64%) of IT directors fear for their job security - troubled by pressure to derive ROI from IT (75%) and cut costs (66%), and the mounting pressure to keep IT systems secure (46%).

*PPI V reveals a steady increase in the pressure gauge. The PPI value has increased from 193 in 2002 to 197 in 2003, to arrive at 200 points in 2004. Synstars research asks respondents to rate the degree of worry they have about 16 different IT and business issues. The PPI value is calculated by multiplying the percentage of respondents ranking each indicator as a low, medium or high worry by 1, 2 or 3 accordingly, and then adding these together. The total PPI figure is the average PPI value across each of the indicator issues.

Table 1: League of worry

Table shows percentage of IT directors who are concerned or worried about a cross-section of 16 business/IT issues:

By country questioned















By industry questioned







Public sector




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