DATA CENTERS

  • 11/23/2015
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3 Ways To Optimize IT Operations

A truly effective IT infrastructure can become a competitive advantage. Here's how to make good IT operations even better.

Technological development over the past 20 years has been something of a roller coaster ride. The tech landscape is constantly evolving, and as the focus shifts from hardware to software and back again, adaptability has become essential to staying ahead of the curve.

IT departments know this better than anyone. Even a decade ago, IT’s principal role was to install and troubleshoot emerging technologies like Ethernet networks, mail servers, and company laptops. The IT department the proverbial catcher’s mitt, having to identify, understand and fix every new technology tossed its way as companies transitioned to a more digital workplace.

Today, many of these systems are largely automated and generally require little attention to function smoothly. Successful IT departments have shifted the focus from troubleshooting to system optimization, placing an emphasis on efficiency, agility, and risk reduction.

But plenty of companies are woefully underutilizing their IT departments without even realizing it. The most effective role this valuable resource can take on is that of an active player within the business, rather than a mere buffer between the company and the complaining customer.

By optimizing and expanding the role of IT within your business, you can mitigate risk and cut costs, all while enabling business-­aligned IT decisions that keep you one step ahead of the competition. Here are three simple ways you can make good IT even better.

Make sure you’re on the same page. The path to improving your IT department’s performance starts with good communication. Many businesses still view their IT departments as separate entities, which means they’re largely out of the loop when it comes to properly aligning with a company’s big­ picture objectives. It’s impossible for the IT team to drive business if it's unclear about the fundamental objectives of the business it's supposed to drive.

Bring IT team members into the conversation and make sure you’re all on the same page. By treating them like the integral department you want them to become, there’s a much better chance that they’ll actually be equipped to step up and fill that role.

Be introspective. A key question you should always ask is, “What is the functional maturity of my daily IT operations?” The ability to identify and understand problem areas is crucial when it comes to taking productive steps in the right direction.

But keep in mind: What you see doesn’t always reflect the underlying reality. Understanding what needs fixing or what could be improved to provide more value, can be next to impossible without an objective, big picture point of view. Bringing in an outside perspective to help with that assessment will ensure that you approach complex issues from every possible angle.

Use the right tools. There are a number of resources available for evaluating and improving IT service delivery within a company. Self-assessment is important. You need to inventory and understand your current strengths in order to capitalize on them, and identify weak spots so you can explore and prioritize opportunities for improvement.

Working through the steps in an IT service optimization maturity model is an effective exercise for organizations just getting started as well as fairly mature ones that want to reevaluate their efforts. This model consists of five maturity levels; each new level acts as a stepping­ stone that builds upon the capabilities introduced in previous levels. By taking incremental steps, the path to IT optimization can be quick and efficient while remaining balanced and manageable. Ensuring the proper foundational components and principles are in place strengthens future projects and creates a more innovation-ready business.

The last few years have been a whirlwind of emerging technology and accompanying challenges. The best way to get out in front -- and stay there -- is to bake in best practices that allow you to accurately analyze, predict, manage and measure the performance of your systems while providing actionable intelligence to the business. The more mature and solidly tested the underlying processes are, the easier it becomes to add new services and jump on new business and technological opportunities with confidence.

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