The Best and Worst of IT Burst Work

Updated: Mar 8

Work bursting, or after-hours work, is commonplace for anyone working in Information Technology (IT). The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the world what a few extra hours (or days) of technology-related labor can achieve. Information Technology systems have played critical roles in the successes of many life science organizations. Digital systems have enabled drug development to continue during the lockdown, and conferences that were normally held in person began shifting to new virtual norms.


The Pandemic Shift


In late 2019, as we commuted to work, dropped our kids at school, or drank our morning coffee, we heard increasingly more news about an infectious virus that was raising concerns across the world. Almost overnight, we found ourselves in lockdowns, struggling to rapidly deploy, learn, and adopt a new normal way of working. This shift required all employees, regardless of department, to rapidly expand their ability to utilize virtual and remote-based systems. In turn, these systems needed to be able to scale and meet these employees’ demands. Case after case, IT departments across the globe needed to get the right set of people and technologies in place to support mission-critical systems, and these needs haven’t changed.


Information Technology has been on a growth track for the past couple of years, but the COVID-19 pandemic significantly accelerated that growth trajectory. Organizations are continuing to shift and change the way they work long term, and the demand on IT remains in a holding pattern of uncomfortable growth. New collaborative systems need immediate implementation, and organizations that were previously hesitant about SaaS/IaaS/PaaS possibilities are now considering them as viable options. It’s projected that 30% of IT budgets will be allocated to cloud computing. Subsequently, Information Technology has accounted for more funding and resource allocation to help match organizations’ needs, but staffing trained tech workers may remain a challenge for the foreseeable future.


Exponential Growth in the Industry


Bursting through rapid system onboarding is only part of the challenge imposed on technical teams. System adoption is also a critical component to ensure that employees are supported, and system implementation resolves an organizational problem pertaining to collaboration. IT departments struggled with collaborative tool adoption before the pandemic, but since 2019, collaborative tool use across enterprises has grown at least 44%. Adoption is good, right? We want to maximize the functionality of our tools, right? Absolutely! However, just as IT teams struggle to match system implementation demands, service and support are other equally demanding major elements as businesses continue to rapidly scale.


“Organizations are requiring departments to spend more time on interdepartmental relationships. Other support departments like HR, Accounting, and Quality are working more in tandem with IT to achieve the technology demands of growth-stage life science organizations.”

IT teams are familiar with the oft-repeated phrase “drinking from the firehose,” typically used when ticket counts are overwhelming. For some, drinking from the firehose has become their new normal. This problem is not exclusive to any industry, but it is especially prevalent within the life sciences industry, since most growth-stage biotechs want to rapidly scale and show no signs of losing momentum (McKinsey). Organizations within the life science industry have achieved record developments due to the pandemic, so no doubt we’ll see more critical innovations that help patients heal, prevent disease, and make our food more nutritious and sustainable.


Life science organizations are going to continue to look for ways to accelerate existing and new digital transformation initiatives. Simply propping up an IT department isn’t enough to meet an organization’s technology demands anymore. New internal department partnerships form, and existing partnerships are evaluated. Organizations are requiring departments to spend more time on interdepartmental relationships. Other support departments like HR, Accounting, and Quality are working more in tandem with IT to achieve the technology demands of growth-stage life science organizations.


Future-Proofing Your Organization


Rapid system expansion and adoption of a remote-first workforce have enabled communication with various providers and partners. Virtual interactions with health care professionals (HCPs) are reshaping health care legislation and regulation within the industry. These interactions are a critical milestone for not only providers, but also for patients. The ability for clinical research organizations (CROs) and life science organizations to communicate more rapidly enables faster development and delivery for patients.


The pandemic has changed the world, and the need for burst work isn’t going away anytime soon. Growth within the life sciences industry isn’t slowing down and neither is the demand for system onboarding and IT service delivery. PharmHand is built to support organizations’ day-to-day service needs through growth-stage consulting. Through industry-tailored support, we enable organizations to pivot at a moment’s notice and rapidly scale.

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