Companies waste millions, even billions, of dollars each year simply be being inefficient. Whether it’s spending $162 billion on corporate training that’s been likened to highway robbery, $958 million each year on poor content marketing or the billions and billions that are mismanaged and wasted in our government each year, poor operational choices and inefficiencies are doing significant harm to everything we do.
Unfortunately, it’s likely your IT department is no different. Waste lives there, and it costs you in ways you’re probably not aware of just yet.
Duplicate forms alone could be costing your business $16 per person, per form. If you have a 10-member team who fills out only one duplicate form each per month, you’re wasting $1,920 per year. But, what if that expands to one repeat or duplicate form per client? Your operational inefficiency costs would scale as your business did.
Tackle this by working out innovative ways to make your IT department better and improving your IT infrastructure efficiency. Start with culture, move on to practice and implementation and then circle back to recognizing where culture and practice have achieved gains.
A company culture that prioritizes efficiency and empowers your team is vital to your ability to achieve the mission and vision of your brand. High-performing IT departments are “essential to the success” of leading companies, according to 45% of CIOs in a Deloitte study, but just 22% said their IT teams were operationally efficient enough to provide proper support.
We want you to join that 22%, so we’ve put together a few considerations to help you discover how to make your IT department more efficient, from team members and leadership to infrastructure.
Understanding Skills Makes Your IT Department More Efficient
Where is your team’s strength? What are their weaknesses?
Understanding your team’s skillset as well as the way they operate in diverse groups can help you maximize efficiency. Align each task with the right group based on skills and mentality to get things done correctly and on time.
Look for the connections that work best for final outcomes, such as choosing team members who are the most patient or have the best people skills to work with your customers, for example.
Learning the skills of your team can also help you find training opportunities to make your IT department better. Not only can you shore up the coding and development gaps you have, but you can also look for team building opportunities and customer service improvements.
Make Work More Accessible to Improve IT Operational Efficiency
Make it easier for your team to accomplish their work if you want to make your IT department more efficient. In today’s IT space, that often means adopting new remote tools. Start your considerations with remote management and monitoring as well as remote file sharing tools.
An RMM (Remote Monitoring & Management) tool is a backbone of an IT team that can respond to threats and events quickly while ensuring your network remains relatively safe and efficient. RMM simplifies processes for applying updates, diagnosing problems, fixing issues and limiting the threat of a breach.
One significant benefit of RMM tools is that you can respond to large-scale issues quickly. If one machine on your network is infected, or if you realize there is a problem on a single machine, RMM applications allow you to look across all your IT assets for similar vulnerabilities.
Improve the success of RMM and other IT tools by adopting a remote file sharing platform, typically requiring a VPN or other secure connection. Remote file access and sharing can make it easier for your team to deliver fixes and updates at any time, expanding your cyber security response outside of traditional office hours.
Your team is probably already checking their email at the end of the day and before they arrive in the morning. Remote access can speed up responses to trouble tickets and other issues as well as helping to get their work done if you offer flexible work hours. Remote tools are just the latest innovation that improve IT operational efficiency.
Optimize Workflows and Communication to Improve IT Department Efficiency
If you’re considering how to make an IT department better, we recommend starting with frustration points — and one of the most common is a breakdown in communication.
You can make it easier for your team to work together by giving them stronger communication tools or changing inefficient processes that involve check-ins near bottlenecks and when tasks are complete. Project management best practices are almost always applicable to staying on top of IT department tasks.
In terms of your communication systems, consider a networked capability to share calendars, set up recurring video conferences and integrate systems so that there is a unified location for messages. Reducing the places where your team must look to understand their assignments and upcoming due dates will allow them to get to work sooner.
After you’ve found success in improving internal workflows, look for opportunities to bring these improvements to customer interactions.
Streamlining the communications methods and requirements to reach out to the client and deliver work or updates can significantly reduce the time your team spends learning about and responding to issues. You can also look for opportunities to decrease the number of team members who interact with your clients — syncing trouble tickets with a CRM, for example, will allow a single customer service agent to handle most issues and interactions, even if your IT team is the leading group resolving the customer’s issue.
Outsource to Improve IT Efficiency
You can outsource some routine IT tasks or auxiliary services to save time each day or reduce the amount of time you spend on getting platforms to work as you need them.
Sometimes, relieving a burden is the best method for helping your IT department. For example, if you use a workflow or project management software and a chat service, it’s likely a promising idea to link the two. However, what if the services offer APIs but don’t already have a platform?
Your best bet to link the two is the development of a plugin or integration tool, so that project management tasks and due dates are automatically repeated across both systems. If your team isn’t large or isn’t experienced with this kind of development, you’ll likely save a lot of time and money by outsourcing the development of this tool.
Look for opportunities like this to improve your operational efficiency, and choose the right development path to advance your IT department’s efficiency as well.
Review Software to Improve Operational Efficiency
Boost your overall efficiency by performing periodic reviews of the software your teams are using and that you’re paying for, with an eye toward licensing requirements. If you’re paying for a monthly package monthly — and it scales up with each new user you have registered — it’s time to perform some cost analysis.
One of the bigger costs that creeps up is when you replace software, but a few holdouts may cause you to keep an older platform around. You could be burning cash if you’re paying for the licenses for your entire team on a platform but only a handful of people are active users.
Look at all the software that you’re using and evaluate if replacement or cancellation will make your IT department more efficient or cost-effective. Software that you may want to replace or remove include packages that:
- Are only used by a small subset of team members.
- Can’t be upgraded or updated for compatibility.
- Have reached their end-of-life or end-of-support dates.
- Are duplicated by other platforms.
- Only cover a portion of your assets, requiring multiple pieces of software to cover everything.
- Have poor customer service or are slow to respond to trouble tickets.
- Come with onerous payments or contract negotiations.
Some businesses may be able to save up to 30% on their software when they pair operational reviews with contract reviews, according to TechRadar.
Review Installations to Improve IT Infrastructure Efficiency
Is your equipment up to current standards and requirements for the physical space that it requires? Your audits and IT reviews need to also look at the space where your equipment lives. Proper IT installations can reduce costs and increase asset lifetime.
Talk to your vendors or OEMs about the best possible installation environments as well as their baseline requirements. Their specifications lists should touch on a wide range of issues from a server room not having windows and computer racks having at least 42 inches of clearance to guidance on how to build so that you leave enough space for future expansion.
Ensure you’re taking all the elements of your infrastructure into consideration, including the common cooling systems as well as your overall electrical systems. Battery backups, generators, surge protection, HVAC, exhausts, isolated grounds and more should be put into place so you’re protected during daily operations as well as power loss and emergency situations.
How to Help Your IT Department: Address Cables
Patch cables are your team’s best friend, and who couldn’t use more friends?
Pick up a couple of spools of cable as well as a handful of RJ45 connectors so that you can create the cables you need to patch your system as necessary. If you’ve got the time, build out at some common lengths like 3, 5, 7 and 15-foot cables. It’s a way to turn downtime into something useful, especially when installing new equipment or having to address a time-sensitive problem.
Cables don’t have to be a bane of your IT department’s existence. Set aside time to manage them and clean up your deployment, especially in the server closet.
If your server closets and rooms just look like colorful spaghetti, it’s time to clean them up. Cables are a significant downtime activity, from generating new cables to cleaning up your equipment. Try to perform this work when it isn’t disruptive to other departments and core operational work.
Can Paperwork Improve IT Efficiency?
It’s a strange question, and the answer might just surprise you.
Paperwork can sometimes make your operations run more smoothly, especially when it comes to filing paperwork and building an audit trail for your activities. The good news for your department is that this has likely gone digital. The unwelcome news is that sometimes the shift to digital makes teams forget they need to do the proper filing and delivery. Digital doesn’t equal automation.
Create a process for your team to follow for all their activities so that they know what to file, where to deliver documents and include who needs to be in any document submissions. Building a process and auditing it can ensure you have all the information you need for other departments, especially your sales and marketing teams.
How to Make your IT Department More Efficient for the Future
Ensuring operational, process and infrastructure efficiency going forward requires you to consider the future and attempt to choose or upgrade platforms so that they can work with what’s next. Do this routinely so you can make sure today’s equipment can process the data you need for analytics platforms, whether it’s from SaaS deployments or Internet-of-Things devices your company uses.
Future-proofing IT is all about vision and consistency. You or your team need to stay on top of what’s new and what your competitors are adopting to prevent obsolescence. To start, develop or choose platforms with an open-source methodology, or chose platforms that are easy to customize for your specific uses.
You always should have your eye on the future of your business — especially regarding IT — is at risk not only from competition but also from the new threats that continuously emerge.
Microsoft, for example, produced a “highly unusual” patch for Windows XP to protect users against the WannaCry ransomware because so many companies were at risk. Not only can you rely on a company reaching that far back to protect your platforms, but just upgrading and advancing to new platforms could have protected thousands of systems that were affected by the ransomware.
Incentives Can Really Help Your IT Department
All the improvements we’ve discussed are based on giving your team more or different work. You should include them in the decisions and efficiency focus whenever possible for it to be successful. This likely requires you to convince your team that they should take the time to learn new processes and adopt changes.
Addressing the problems your team faces is only the beginning of the case you must make to get people on board with changes.
Incentives are going to be a requirement for most IT team improvements. This program will help you show employees you appreciate them and are taking steps to make their daily activities better. Here are a few incentive ideas that you can employ in your operations:
- Create a weekly or monthly appreciation program that identifies outstanding performance in a public way.
- Offer additional time off or flexible time so staff can work hours they’re most comfortable.
- Enable remote work when possible, networking and team temperament permitting.
- Ask them what they need to improve their operations and implement it.
- Bring in food. No matter how old everyone gets, they still seem to appreciate a pizza party — or any celebration event that provides high-quality food, creating a communal atmosphere.
If you want to know how to make your IT department more efficient, turn to your staff and see what they need. Take their recommendations and implement them while also implementing tools to make management easier. Finish your process by returning to your team and celebrating the victories you’ve made in efficiency with them.
As a team leader, you’ll want to stay in the know about new tech products and management ideas. Check out the Worldwide Supply blog on the regular for helpful industry updates and information or contact us with any IT efficiency questions.