By Mike Puglia of Kaseya
IT departments are often under-resourced and stuck in a cycle of repetitive manual updates and stressful, reactive firefighting – but that doesn’t need be the case as even smaller businesses can reach higher levels of IT management maturity.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: A Sunny Start
This can be achieved by automating mundane activities, standardizing and streamlining processes, and leveraging cloud services. By doing so, IT staff will have more time to focus on projects that drive business results and end-user satisfaction.
Recent industry research indicates a strong correlation between high revenue growth and IT management maturity. More than one third of businesses with higher IT maturity levels grew their revenue by more than 10 per cent between 2014 and 2015. In contrast, only 21 percent of the less mature businesses saw the same revenue growth.
So how can you move your business into the higher levels of IT maturity? No matter where you are on the scale, there are six steps you can take to improve the performance of your IT operations.
1. Start Now and Don’t Get Left Behind
It’s never too late – and no IT group is ever too small – to start taking control. Developing a mature and respected IT department is not a function of size or industry.
IT infrastructure complexity is not going to go away, and the demands on your IT department are only going to increase, so you have to take control, manage the complexity and minimize its impact on IT and company productivity. Look for IT management and security tools that allow you to view, monitor and manage your entire IT environment holistically.
2. Automate Everything
Automate as much as possible. Policy-based automation improves staff efficiency.
Discovery, audits, software deployments (including third-party software), patches, antivirus updates, backup – and much more – can all be automated, based on defined policies that make sense for your business.
Look for solutions that go beyond simple remediation to make sure that:
- Procedures and policies are routinely enforced;
- Remediation and all access and alterations are recorded;
- Reports and dashboards are up-to-date and in real time.
3. Always Improve
It is important to prioritize and manage your activities. One of the major differences between mature IT groups and those at the bottom of the scale is their consistently higher usage rates of a wide variety of strategies and tactics to optimize IT efficiency and effectiveness.
The research cited earlier found that on average, more mature SMEs had 36 percent more individual strategies in motion than reactive businesses.
Since over a third of respondents (across various industries and company sizes) are in the reactive IT group, this means a lot of IT departments need to take a hard look at their current processes and methodically identify and prioritize areas for improvement.
4. Yes, Budgets Are Important, But Metrics Drive Success
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Do high-maturity IT businesses become that way because they track and measure their performance? We can’t definitively answer that question. But as with automation, tracking and measuring is no longer a luxury.
If you don’t know where you are going and how your progress towards this is goal is tracking, you may never get there.
5. Cloud Services Have Gone Mainstream, But Make Sure To Manage Them
Mature IT departments consider the cloud a strategic enabler, allowing them to offload routine and repetitive tasks, scale at will and focus their efforts on innovative IT projects to improve customer and end-user experience.
Just about all IT departments recognize this fact and are considering a wide range of outsourced cloud services. But you need to make sure you have the tools to actively monitor and manage these cloud services to make sure they are meeting your expectations and predicted return on investment.
6. What’s Next? Device Performance Baselining And Predictive Analytics
Some tactics, such as backup and antivirus, are used by many of the companies playing in the IT maturity continuum. Looking to leapfrog into the higher ranks of IT maturity? Consider device performance baselining and predictive analytics.
These tactics are less common than others by a large margin – but mature IT departments use device performance baselining more than twice as frequently as reactive companies; and predictive analytics almost three times as frequently.
Understanding your environment through baselining allows for a greater degree of predictive visibility.
While most IT groups in small- and mid-sized companies are still in the early stages of IT management maturity, the good news is that they have access to affordable technologies and solutions that can deliver the highly beneficial capabilities mentioned above. Rather than focusing on day-to-day IT management tasks that are often time-consuming and manual, mid-market organizations can systematically achieve higher levels of maturity and reap business benefits. Regardless of its size, your business can progress up the IT management maturity ladder by applying a few simple guiding strategies. Every business is different, but the basic techniques are the same.
Mike Puglia is Chief Product Officer for Kaseya, a leading provider of IT management software solutions. Puglia is an industry expert in the field of IT management and brings more than 20 years of technology, strategy, sales and marketing experience in the software and IT management space. Mike holds a BSEE from the University of New Hampshire and an MBA from the Carroll Graduate School of Management at Boston College.
The views, opinions and positions expressed within this guest post are those of the authors alone and do not represent those of CBS Small Business Pulse or the CBS Corporation. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are verified solely by the authors.
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