Tech is the engine that keeps many companies running, yet business executives don’t think about it until their email stops working. Conversely, the IT director thinks about IT all the time to ensure that it stays up operational. As user demands, IT Support and technology get more complicated, IT directors must take steps to stay ahead of the game. Here are five things that successful ones are doing to keep IT issues at bay.
Investing in automation
One of the biggest headaches for IT departments is the constant fire fighting. Bob forgot his password. Jane needs a fresh development environment. Stewart reckons he has a virus. Every time another helpdesk ticket arrives, a little piece of budget and time disappears.
Automating IT processes and services is a great way to fix this. At the simple end, this involves getting Brian in IT, who is a whiz at Bash and PowerShell, to write a series of scripts. For a more structured and maintainable solution, IT directors look at structured IT service management solutions to help make processes automated and repeatable.
Savvy IT directors take this a step further by introducing self-service portals that let people make the requests themselves. Most times, there’s no need for human interaction at all. In others, a cursory approval process often suffices.
Automated processes to scan Stewart’s desktop for viruses, provision a new virtual machine for Jane, or reset Bob’s password mean fewer helpdesk headaches and more golf for the IT director. Everyone’s a winner.
With 64% of businesses forced to boost their IT budgets to refresh out-of-date hardware, capital expenditure is a pressing problem. Windows 7 Service Pack 1 and Windows Server 2008 both reach the end of their extended support in January 2020, which will force many companies to make the change. Leasing hardware rather than buying it outright is a good way to resolve the budget crunch because it reduces up-front capital expenditures.
Moving to the cloud
Many IT directors take that operating expenses approach all the way and eliminate a lot of hardware cost altogether by moving to the cloud. Small businesses run 78% of their workloads in the cloud, according to Flexera, with the majority focusing on public cloud. Moving applications software and hardware infrastructure to a cloud-based provider comes with its own challenges, such as cloud shock, but IT directors that go into these arrangements with their eyes open can offload not hardware and software licensing costs along with management and support issues.
Basic cybersecurity hygiene measures like application whitelisting and patch management can be difficult enough for resource-strapped companies to tackle. Add more demanding tasks like network monitoring and vulnerability scanning, and many companies are out of their depth. With 50% of IT pros reporting that budget is a top three barrier to network security, smart IT directors are turning to managed security providers instead. They offer services ranging from simple email and URL scanning through to network traffic analysis and vulnerability scans.
Some smart IT measures are political, rather than technical. IT directors who want to become more strategic and valuable to the company are good at charm offensives, talking to business managers about what’s needed. They find new ways to fold users into the requirements gathering process. They look at agile development methodologies that involve regular check-ins with users to ensure that they’re delivering what’s expected. If you want to head off IT issues from the beginning, it pays to turn your internal clients into allies and have thoughtful strategic conversations with them before embarking on any project.