It’s no secret the COVID-19 pandemic forced many companies to adopt remote-work solutions. This enabled employees to work more seamlessly from home, but it also created patchwork IT, a problem with significant impacts on operations and end users. Resolving patchwork systems can be tricky. However, a series of steps and considerations can help IT professionals and managed service providers (MSPs) solve this problem efficiently, allowing for smoother operations and happier end users.
What are patchwork systems?
Patchwork systems are a combination of platforms, networking solutions, or applications that don't communicate with one another or are being underutilized. Mergers and acquisitions provide great examples. Often, we see a patchwork of solutions when one company uses one set of applications and the other company uses a different set. Together, they must find a way to make this mismatched group of solutions work.
A patchwork of solutions can also occur when a company chooses from the “best of the best” applications. However, this tactic can cause a scenario where solutions cannot communicate with each other, leading to patchwork IT.
For example, say a company uses Cisco firewalls, routers, and VPNs but also uses VMware. These solutions don't necessarily talk to each other and can have different management consoles, resulting in a patchwork system.
Addressing patchwork systems through consolidation and migrations
To resolve the issues related to patchwork systems, companies must consider consolidating and migrating data to streamline operations. To do so properly, however, MSPs and IT departments should consider a few steps.
To start, you should pinpoint which solutions aren’t essential. For example, a company may have adopted Skype during the pandemic, only to realize internal teams use Zoom and Microsoft Teams to communicate. By eliminating Skype, you can free up space for other essential applications.
When consolidating, you need the right tools. These tools ensure that solutions are properly eliminated, migrated, and stored and that you avoid lost data or headaches from end users. Before a migration, make sure you have a full understanding of what data and solutions need to be moved.
In addition, you should gather stakeholder feedback to ensure everyone is on board with the changes. For example, if companies involved in an M&A need to choose between Google Workspace and Microsoft 365, input from employees will help determine which productivity suite best suits them.
If you execute a migration without this input, you risk end-user frustration and a disturbance to productivity. With change management, however, you can ensure end users have the necessary resources and training for new solutions.
Finally, with any migration, you want to mitigate risk. The right migration tool is essential. To ensure all your data and information are properly moved, deploy a migration tool that is built to meet the size, timeline, and specifics of your migration. This helps mitigate setbacks and allows for a seamless migration.
Avoiding patchwork IT in the future
Once a patchwork of solutions is resolved, it’s important to keep it from reoccurring. To do this, MSPs and IT professionals should consider the Five Pillars of Workplace Maturity:
Cloud Office: Upgrading to the cloud enables companies to keep applications consolidated, which can drive savings and operational efficiencies across an organization.
Content Services: By digitizing files and operations, companies can reduce physical paperwork and employee frustration. Content services allow employees to access documents from anywhere, saving time, money, and resources.
Hyperautomation: Leverage tools that support hyperautomation so employees can reallocate time to more critical tasks. Hyperautomation can optimize employees’ processes and create space for more engaging work, reducing risk and increasing productivity.
Unified Communication and Collaboration: One of the main causes of patchwork IT is having different tools that do the same thing. You need unified communication, collaboration, and conference tools to ensure employees are connected, engaged, and productive in real time.
Emerging Applications and Technology: New technology can help you leave behind legacy infrastructure and modernize your application stack. With emerging applications and technology, you can ensure you are agile in the face of disruptions and fully prepared for the future of work.
By following these steps and precautions, MSPs and IT professionals can resolve a patchwork system and prevent it from happening in the future, creating smoother operations and end-user productivity to keep business moving forward.
Stacey Farrar is a product marketing manager at BitTitan.
Christopher Chesley is North American digital workplace growth leader at SoftwareONE.