7 Ways to Streamline & Automate Your IT Department

May 21, 2013 at 4:37 am | Uncategorized | No comment

Your company's ability to move forward is directly related to how well your IT department functions. IT should work like a finely tuned machine, but it's important to remember IT professionals are real people with real wants, needs, goals, and personalities. Here are five ways to improve how your IT department functions, which will translate into a better company.

1. Identify New Technologies

IT can't live up to today's expectations with the technology of yesterday. Companies who are still trying to do business with fax machines and pagers aren't going to be competitive much longer. To stay relevant, keep up with growing customer demands, and create processes to improve production, you need to know what technology is available and how you can use it.

If you're not sure what technologies and the capacity management your company needs, have your IT department do the research. Find the best hardware and software available, look for processes that might benefit from mobile technologies, and identify services to make the IT department and the company do business faster, cheaper, and easier.

2. Invest in the Right Tools

Once you know what technologies are available, it's important to budget and implement these as soon as possible. Arm your tech guys with the stuff they need to do a stellar job. This makes all the employees happy because their jobs are easier when the IT department gets the best tools up and running. This includes hardware upgrades, software upgrades, and newer, better business tools.

If your hardware and software packages are more than five years old, you'll be amazed at the power and efficiency of the newer versions. Don't make up the next budget until you've coordinated with the IT department and know what's available to make things run more smoothly.

3. Keep IT Informed on Production

Is your IT department isolated from the work process? If so, they can't help you much. Get IT involved. Let them see what employees do all day every day and you'll be surprised at how much they can help you streamline current processes and implement new strategies for more efficient work production. IT should be intimately aware of the duties of each job, current procedures of each job, and when those processes change.

This might involve having IT employees sit in with workers for a day to see how things operate. Once IT sees how the work is done, they can visualize how new technologies can help the process work better. Sometimes they can tweak the current process for better results; other times they might suggest upgrading products or services.

4. Get the Right Training

Most new hardware and software packages are powerful, but it takes learning to use them effectively and efficiently. The IT department needs to be trained on the hardware and software, preferably by the proprietor who developed it. IT also needs the same employee enrichment training offered to all the other employees. Better training means better people, and better people means a better product. This is equally true for widget manufacturers, insurance companies, and any other industries.

Training has an additional benefit: when companies invest in training, it helps employees feel valued. This means they work harder and do a better job for the company which holds them in such high regard. Video conferencing is an excellent way to allow all employees to attend training, conferences, and seminars without going over on the company's travel budget.

5. Automate Your Processes

How much of your IT processes is automated? Today, accounts receivable, payroll, inventory, and all other processes should be fully automated. Once automation is in place, it's easy for the IT department to keep everything running smoothly. Some companies choose to operate on site servers, others opt for a cloud server, and even more use a hybrid of these two. Either way, IT can keep things working well and make things secure once processes are automated.

This also eliminates the possibility that paperwork is lost or damaged in a physical disaster. Once documents, files, and data are automated, these can be backed up to an off site server. If the business is damaged or destroyed in a fire, earthquake, tornado, or flood, everything you need to set back up and continue operations is safely stored in another location.

6. Develop a Realistic Schedule

Are you depending on IT to back up systems and perform updates and maintenance "when they get a chance?" That's a recipe for disaster. Have the head of your IT department create a realistic, workable schedule for system maintenance, backing up databases, and updating all software packages. Once the schedule is established, hold them accountable for keeping it up.

In the IT world, emergencies happen. Make sure to have enough IT staff to keep scheduled maintenance, updates, and backups current even if much of the staff is tied up with a faulty server or problems with the network. Without adequate staffing, problems like this might mean overtime charges for the IT personnel.

7. Involve IT in Marketing Efforts

Digital, mobile, and online marketing are some of the fastest growing advertising venues and your IT department is your ticket there. Get your IT department active in your marketing campaigns so they can show you all the ways to tap into this rapidly growing market. Expanding 149 percent in a single year, mobile ads target demographic groups that are very hard to reach with other advertising mediums.

IT can help you launch new, creative ads to find markets you never dreamed of for your products or services. The more IT becomes involved in the business as a whole, the better they can serve you. As with training, involving IT in all aspects of the business makes them feel important and employees who feel valued work harder, faster, and better.

Managing an IT department requires the same skills as managing any other position. People skills, scheduling, and looking ahead toward the future goes a long way toward developing a streamlined department filled with happy employees doing a stellar job for your company.

Resources:

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/solutions/ns339/ns640/networking_solutions_products_genericcontent0900aecd803e3825.html

http://www.comparebusinessproducts.com/briefs/cost-center-profit-center

http://allthingsd.com/20120418/mobile-ads-are-growing-fast-still-pretty-small/

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