Chances are, your business is always looking for ways to improve the efficiency of your IT systems and reduce overall costs. Who isn't looking to improve performance and streamline the budget? In this article, we'll discuss seven strategies you should be using that will optimize the efficiencies of your IT systems and keep your IT costs down.
Because technology and the business environment are ever-evolving, companies often rely on their IT department (or managed IT services provider!) to help them keep up with innovation and stay competitive.
That's because technology offers a way to improve and transform current processes into more efficient and effective practices that let staff focus on doing their jobs, instead of managing technology.
However, maintaining and upgrading IT systems can be expensive, and inefficiencies can cause significant disruptions to business operations.
1. Simplify Your IT Infrastructure
If you really want to supercharge efficiency growth and cost reduction in your business, simplifying your IT systems and infrastructure is the first place to start. You'll reduce the number of hardware and software components you need to maintain, leading to significant cost savings over time.
In addition, with a simpler IT infrastructure, you will need fewer resources to manage and maintain your systems. And, you will find it much easier to adapt to changing circumstances in your business environment, such as new customer needs, market trends, or regulatory requirements.
Simplifying your IT is similar to cleaning out an overstuffed closet; it makes room for a new point of view about how to approach your business and new technology.
To begin simplifying your IT infrastructure, consider the following steps:
Take a critical look at your current IT infrastructure and identify areas where you can consolidate, standardize, or eliminate components.
Reduce the number of software applications you use by standardizing on a smaller set of tools that can meet multiple needs.
Consider moving some of your IT infrastructure to the cloud, which can help reduce hardware and software costs while increasing scalability and flexibility.
Use automation tools to streamline routine tasks, such as software updates, system backups, and security scans.
Train your staff: Provide your IT staff with the training and resources they need to support a simpler infrastructure, including new skills in cloud computing, automation, and cybersecurity.
2. Document EVERYTHING!
Documenting your IT processes is one of the best ways to identify bottlenecks or inefficiencies and make adjustments to streamline operations, and it can help ensure consistency across your organization.
This documentation is essential when you have multiple teams or locations, as it helps ensure everyone is working from the same playbook. Making sure everyone involved in a particular process know their role and responsibilities is critical in maintaining efficient operations and security.
Consider this: a failure in an automated task can be catastrophic if no one has the knowledge or skills to troubleshoot and resolve the issue.
Proper documentation also lets you capture and share valuable knowledge and expertise, which can be especially important when employees leave or are promoted to other roles. It also provides a reference for new employees, which can help them get up to speed more quickly.
Documenting your IT processes also helps demonstrate compliance with regulatory or industry standards by providing evidence of the steps you take to protect sensitive data and ensure that you follow best practices.
Some of the processes that should be documented in your IT operations include the following:
- System Installation and Configuration: Document the steps required to install and configure hardware and software components, including operating systems, databases, and applications.
- System Maintenance: Document the procedures for maintaining and updating systems, including patch management, system backups, and disaster recovery.
- Incident Response: Document the steps required to respond to security incidents or system failures. This includes processes for identifying and containing threats, notifying stakeholders, and restoring systems.
- User Support: Document the procedures for providing support to end-users, including help desk processes, troubleshooting guides, and user manuals.
- Change Management: Document the procedures for making changes to systems or processes. This includes change approval processes, testing procedures, and rollback plans.
3. Automate, Automate, Automate...
By enforcing a consistent methodology across your IT environment, automating your systems and processes ensures that IT processes are performed consistently and according to established procedures.
Automation of common workflows and business operations reduces the effort and time needed to perform routine IT tasks, such as backups, software updates, and security scans, allowing IT staff to focus on more complex and strategic initiatives.
Most critically, automated IT systems are less prone to human error, which can reduce the risk of downtime or data loss. This is particularly important when you have multiple teams or locations, as it helps ensure everyone follows the same process.
The list of systems and processes that you can consider automating is long, but here is where you can start:
- Patch Management: Automated patch management can help ensure systems are up-to-date and protected from known vulnerabilities.
- Backup and Recovery: Automated backup and recovery systems can ensure that critical data is protected and easily recoverable during an outage or disaster.
- Security Monitoring: Automated security monitoring systems can detect and respond to security threats in real-time, reducing the risk of a data breach.
- Provisioning and Configuration: Automated provisioning and configuration systems can help deploy new servers, applications, or network devices quickly and consistently.
- Incident Response: Automated incident response systems can help detect and respond to security incidents, reducing the time required to identify and contain threats.
- Network Management: Automated network management systems can help monitor performance, identify issues, and optimize network traffic.
- Compliance Monitoring: Automated compliance monitoring systems can help ensure your IT infrastructure complies with industry and regulatory standards.
4. Keep Track Of Your Performance Metrics
Checking performance metrics is essential in identifying areas for improvement and ensuring that IT systems are operating efficiently. Performance metrics can include network uptime, application response time, and overall system availability.
By checking these metrics, companies can identify bottlenecks and make the necessary adjustments to improve system performance.
To check performance metrics, companies can use real-time monitoring tools that track various performance indicators. By monitoring performance metrics, companies can detect and address any issues that are causing inefficiencies promptly.
Here are some standard IT metrics that may be useful to track:
- Response time: This is the time it takes for a system or application to respond to a user's request. It measures how quickly the system can process and deliver information to users.
- System uptime: This metric measures the time a system or application is available and functioning properly. It is a measure of reliability and can be important for mission-critical systems.
- Mean time to repair (MTTR): This is the average amount of time it takes to repair a system or application after it has failed. A low MTTR indicates that issues are being resolved quickly and efficiently.
- Error rate: This measures the percentage of requests or transactions that result in errors or failures. A low error rate indicates that the system is functioning correctly and efficiently.
- Resource utilization: This measures the percentage of resources (such as CPU, memory, and disk) used by a system or application. Monitoring resource utilization can help identify potential performance bottlenecks.
- User satisfaction: This metric measures users' satisfaction with a system or application. It can be measured through surveys, feedback, and other methods.
- Cost per transaction: This metric measures the cost of processing a single transaction. It can help identify inefficiencies and areas for cost savings.
Overall, the specific metrics that should be tracked will depend on the goals and objectives of the organization and the systems being monitored. It is important to choose relevant and measurable metrics and provide insight into the performance and efficiency of IT systems.
5. Prioritize The Needs of the End-User
The purpose of IT infrastructure is to deliver services to end users. However, for most IT organizations, planning, management, and troubleshooting operations revolve around infrastructure components.
End users care about accessing their email, sharing files, and using the applications they need to perform their jobs. They are not concerned with network switch speed, compute capabilities or storage capacity.
To meet end-user needs, manage your infrastructure with a focus on services rather than operational efficiency.
This focus should be applied to day-to-day maintenance operations, disaster recovery planning, resource allocation, integration of new technologies, and especially migrations.
For example, while migrating a single server sounds easy, the end-user implications are much greater. Each service running on that server must be migrated separately. A server hosting database, email, and web services require three distinct migrations, not one.
The broader IT field is moving to as-a-service offerings. Focusing your infrastructure and operations on servicing the end user will help you boost user satisfaction and help your organization become more competitive and prepare for the future.
6. Make Sure To Balance Standardization With Flexibility
Automation and documentation are critical to keeping process and operational efficiencies up.
But don’t forget that maintaining flexibility is essential in meeting demands for new services within your organization or your customer audience.
While there are numerous benefits to standardizing your IT infrastructure, too much standardization can actually impede flexibility and agility.
7. Get Help from Experts
One of the best ways to optimize the efficiency of your IT systems is to partner with a managed services provider (MSP) like Ntiva. We help companies like yours improve the efficiency of their IT systems while keeping costs down.
MSPs offer a range of services, including network monitoring, data backup and recovery, and cybersecurity. By outsourcing IT support to an MSP, companies can reduce the costs associated with hiring and training in-house IT staff while ensuring that their IT systems are maintained and upgraded on a regular basis.
At Ntiva, we have helped companies across all industries realize the benefits of managed IT services. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.