Five tips for optimizing your IT team's time

Today, IT teams are short-staffed and overworked like never before. And COVID-19 has made IT professionals busier than ever, with record numbers of people working from home and using more technology resources from remote locations. This can lead to additional projects and even more support issues. IT teams are constantly juggling between day-to-day maintenance activities and more strategic, long-term projects that can drive innovation and have a positive impact on an organization.

In theory, it would be ideal to have 70 percent of a team’s time spent on strategic projects and 30 percent spent on daily maintenance tasks. In reality, the opposite numbers are probably true. So, how can you shift that dynamic and get more time spent on strategic, high-impact projects, rather than all the maintenance work? Here are five tips for improving your IT team’s efficiency and optimizing their time.

1. Get a Better Understanding of Your Existing IT Assets

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According to the Cloud Security Alliance, the average enterprise has 464 custom applications deployed, but IT security professionals are only aware of 38.4 percent of them. If you don’t know what’s in your IT infrastructure, both on-premises and in the cloud, then you don’t have a clear understanding of your IT spend. It’s important to take a detailed inventory of applications, databases, services and systems across your entire enterprise IT environment. Once you know what you really have, then you can effectively analyze the viability of each asset and its costs.

2. Figure Out Where Your Team (Really) Spends its Time

In addition to knowing what your IT assets are, it’s also important to know where your IT team is really spending its time. As mentioned earlier, an ideal target is spending 70 percent of IT staff time on strategic projects, with 30 percent on maintenance. But the opposite is all too often the case. Why is there such a disconnect? IT executives don’t realize the gap because no one is closely tracking IT staff time.

One key step to fixing this issue is to use a ticketing system. This way you know how your IT team is spending their time and can identify issues or tasks that may be distracting them away from other priorities. It’s also important to enforce that usage with end users. While they may want to avoid the ticketing process -- and directly contact someone in IT for help -- this system is important because it can track every interaction and give a more accurate view into how much time a project truly took to complete. The results are often surprising. With better visibility, you can start making changes to optimize team efficiency, which will help reduce costs.

3. Outsource Routine Tasks

Using the steps above, you may be on your way to a more efficient, cost-effective team already, but the overall volume of run-rate IT maintenance activities may still be too high for your staff to handle. In this situation, it may be time to consider outsourcing a Managed Service Provider (MSP). Look to outsource those routine tasks that are repeatable, well understood and well-defined by the business, and you know what the outcomes are going to be. This can free up your team’s time to focus on higher-value, strategic projects that deliver value to the business.

4. Leverage Automation and the Cloud

You may expect that moving your IT systems to the cloud will provide better efficiency, scale and flexibility -- but the reality is that your organization might not be taking full advantage of the cloud if your IT team is still using legacy processes that are highly manual, inefficient and prone to error. All too often companies move workloads "as is" without taking time to consider cloud optimization tools and DevOps practices that can help automate manual tasks, accelerate the release of new products and services, and scale infrastructure on-demand with a truly hands-off approach. If you don’t have this expertise on your team, consider working with cloud consulting experts to help you get the most out of the cloud and introduce automation. 

5. Adjust Staffing Models for the Right Combination of Skills

Digital transformation has driven a trend towards specialization among IT professionals. Those with newer, specialized skills for building environments with the latest cloud tools are in high demand but are also hard to find. Consider building a staffing model that allows you to combine the right combination of skills to accomplish your goals. For instance, internal teams are domain experts in the business. They understand the requirements and workflows, proprietary technologies and how cloud platforms map to systems and processes. However, as demands change or specialized skills are needed, an MSP can come in to help design, build and execute on the internal team’s vision. In this way, you create a staffing model that leverages the knowledge of internal teams but enables you to scale dynamically -- only bringing in (and incurring costs for) expertise and support when needed.

Photo Credit: Kar/Shutterstock

Steve Woodgate is the Senior Vice President of Professional Services for Navisite. In this role, Steve leads Navisite’s professional services team, delivering world-class IT consulting, implementation and cloud solutions that deliver business value to clients. Navisite is a modern managed cloud service provider that accelerates digital transformation for thousands of growing and global brands. Learn more at www.navisite.com.

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