As technology innovations increase and hardware becomes more intricate, the tasks involved with maintaining IT operations become more time-consuming. You’d think that organizations would be giving their IT departments more resources to tackle these changes, but instead, more and more IT teams find themselves having to do more with less. For example, a mere 19% of IT professionals view their IT budgets as “very good.”
Perhaps this points to a more systemic problem: the IT department and its relationship with the rest of the business. According to a CIO.com survey, “72% of those polled admitted they are struggling to balance business innovation and operational excellence.” If IT aren’t able to prove a lot of visible value to the rest of their organization because they are overburdened, then what impact could this be having on IT’s reputation with other departments? Here’s a simple solution to help improve the situation: Organize IT responsibilities into categories, then alter your approach to these tasks.
At Bluelock, we encourage our clients to categorize IT responsibilities into a grading scale: A/C and C/F. Quite simply, there are some projects where you could excel beyond the moon and the best grade your company would give you was is a “C.” Why? Even though these projects are usually crucial to keep the business running, they simply aren’t visible unless they fail. Take email, for example: have you ever had someone come into your office and thank you for delivering their correspondence? Yet, if you didn’t meet those expectations, you’d certainly get an “F.”
Conversely, A/C tasks and projects are those that contribute to business innovation, improve profitability and position the company with a competitive advantage. Because these tasks tend to be more visible and valued than C/F-grade tasks, they are often seen as positive attempts even if they fail. In short, you could fall disastrously short on an A/C project and still receive a “C.”
If you’re struggling to make your IT department more meaningful to the rest of your organization, try classifying tasks into A/C and C/F. This will enable you to more consciously limit and balance the amount of time you spend on projects. If you notice the majority of your time is going to C/F projects, try breaking down these projects into subsequent categories.
Start by identifying what tasks fall to the back-burner and need better accountability, as well as what tasks add little or no value to the business — if you stop doing them, no one will notice. Next, create a list of items you want to streamline through automation. If you have senior-level people performing tasks that lower-level employees could be doing instead, make an effort to push these tasks down (it may require some work, but it’s well worth the time to do so). Lastly, you should determine what applications or tasks could be moved to the cloud for efficiency and flexibility. This could include email, payroll systems, facilities management systems, business intelligence applications and IT disaster recovery (DR). Bluelock’s EVP of Product & Service Development, Jeff Ton, talks about these categories at length and gives some additional tips in this Forbes article.
The goal is for IT to become a value-add partner with your business units, rather than an “order taker” focused on everyday maintenance. Taking a more conscious approach to IT operations and responsibilities will contribute to a more effective IT department, which will boost your team’s overall reputation. But what does A/C and C/F have to do with DR? The answer is simple: DR is one of those “keeping the lights on” projects that removes IT personnel from A/C projects. If you provision DR with a trusted Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) provider like Bluelock, you can free up your IT teams to drive more value back to the business.
With no more flustered daily activities, you’ll have time to sit in on leadership meetings and provide meaningful input on business objectives. This will move IT from the backseat of innovation to the driver’s seat, taking the “action hero” role in propelling your organization toward the future.