For the past few weeks, I’ve been talking about the revolution that needs to take place in IT—a total transformation in the way we run IT. There are many factors validating the need for the revolution, including the fact that we’re experiencing a surge in:
- Technology consumerization, or the power of technology being directly in the hand of the consumer
- The digitization of the enterprise, or added pressure on today’s IT leaders to harness technology and talent to advance the organization’s digital ambition
- The cost of IT, or the fact that the expenses related to running IT are higher than ever
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And because of these added pressures, IT leaders can find themselves spending, even more, time on run tasks, concerned with only keeping the lights on. In one of my previous blog posts, (click here), I dove into the difference between core and context or focusing on the growth activities that have a measurable impact on your business, versus the run activities that detract from hitting your objectives. Unfortunately, all too often IT departments find themselves stuck in the weeds, failing to reach the core initiatives within their organization.
So, today, I’d like to explore seven steps you can take to begin the revolution and transform the way you run IT.
- Adopt a True Service Delivery Framework, like ITIL
A service delivery framework, like ITIL, ensures that each function, role, response, and priority is set so that when events and incidents happen, the business can respond swiftly and more efficiently. Companies have historically struggled to build process into their environments, often exploring the wrong path like bringing on more staffers versus reallocating talent. Having a framework to follow from start to finish allows companies to re-shape how they design process, scale intelligently, reduce labor costs and eliminate unforced errors. It also allows companies to begin adhering to best practices and standards to reduce the time spent on run.
- Lend an Eye to Out-tasking
Today, too many companies try to handle all IT tasks in-house with their limited staff and resources. But most often, this approach leads to wasted resources, higher cost, lower performance, and less focus and attention on growth and transformation activities. Therefore, organizations are increasingly casting an eye towards out-tasking and teaming with a managed services provider to remove defined run tasks from their plate. Though the term “outsourcing” has historically held a bad reputation in the IT world, out-tasking is entirely different. Think of your HR department for a moment. They likely out-task the management of your corporate 401K policy, your monthly payroll, etc. We need to do the same thing in IT and look at the specific functions that can be done differently, better and more cost efficiently by those outside our organizations.
- Consider a Single Pane of Glass
With the rise of the modern IT world—one in which data, tools, talent, software, and hardware are distributed anywhere in the world—it becomes harder to monitor IT. Different tools are required to manage our complex and complicated environments, meaning there are often multiple panes of glass we must use to manage our IT operations. At the lowest level that could be four tools but for some organizations, it could mean 15 to 20. As a result, we end up creating a siloed environment in which only two to three people are equipped to access the tools and there is no holistic picture displaying the health of the network. IT needs to find a way to bring separate tools together, viewing IT through a single pane of glass.
- Lean Out By Eliminating the Noise
Imagine for a moment a world without some form of spam filter. We would be bombarded with hundreds and thousands of useless junk emails—all of which would have to be manually touched by us and ultimately deleted. What’s more, think of how often we would miss important messages or not respond expediently. In IT, we have to find ways to eliminate the daily noise and clutter and, in so doing, enable your department to focus more aggressively on core. Consider events for a moment—a device going down, a circuit malfunctioning, device low on memory, high CPU usage, etc. These alerts demand attention with some requiring immediate actions and others simply serving to inform us or, more importantly, distract us. Now imagine if we could use the right tools, and technology to automatically discern the viability of the event, like false positives, duplicate alerts and multiple alerts for the same event.
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- Think Automation
In 2016 Gartner dubbed automation “the next frontier for IT,” explaining that the benefits automation offers organizations—from improving accountability and predictability to helping slash costs—are simply too powerful to ignore. Therefore, transformative IT leaders are aggressively considering which existing tools, processes and methodologies can be automated to start reaping the gains of automation. With automation, one of the most powerful components comes in removing human interactions and touch points. By eliminating manual process and increasing time to resolution and response time, this allows your team to get back to focusing on core activities and bringing innovative concepts to the business.
- Align With Business Stakeholders
As business leaders think of the applications and services that can move their business forward, IT leaders need to start to think like the business unit leaders—particularly with regards to what they want to know about their systems and the manner in which they prefer to communicate. For example, a head of marketing likely does not care about the inner workings of the devices and systems the comprise marketing automation and CRM systems. But they certainly care if their scheduled email does not go out. For IT to cut down on its run operations, it needs to provide better visibility as to how stakeholder systems operate and communicate in the language of the business leader. Historically, IT has been more focused on the device, the systems, and technology, instead of the business service.
- Build Contextual Knowledge of Your Organization
To properly support IT infrastructure, there is a lot of information that needs to be documented and stored centrally. Unfortunately, though, traditional IT departments have not done a great job in documenting their environments as thoroughly as is needed. So what are we left with? A sea of spreadsheets, Word documents, SharePoint sites, and information that lives in our engineer’s head. As a result, when problems arise, the time to resolution lengthens because companies embark on a big hunt for information. To transform IT, we have to begin to build systems that allow critical information to be stored in a single system that is one click away, rather than buried in spreadsheets or confined to one team member.
As I mentioned in past blogs, the time for an IT revolution is now. We cannot help our businesses grow and most importantly transform if we are mired down in running IT. The revolution starts with looking at constructive and actionable steps that lead us down the road to IT relevance.
As we keep exploring the importance of transforming the way you run IT, I encourage you to check back for future posts. In the meantime, I’d love to know the biggest context or Gain tasks that are keeping you bogged down. Reach out to me at email@example.com.