With the number of tasks that IT must accommodate on a daily basis, it's easy for everyone from help desk staff to department heads to get bogged down. Often, this type of reactive firefighting leaves IT struggling to find time for proactive strategies like scaling up an infrastructure, streamlining operations, improving security, or implementing new applications.
Fortunately, there are several ways to make an IT staff more productive, so they can have the availability for business-critical technology strategy. Here are some top tips:
Review Job Roles Regularly
As technology changes, each IT staff member's responsibilities usually do, too. Someone who started as a programmer may now be taking on duties like help desk support, network administration, and QA tasks.
Work tends to get shuttled toward whomever is available, and if an IT staff member is accommodating, the habit gets ingrained. Over time, it becomes more difficult to sort out who's in charge of which tasks, and that turns into a major impediment to productivity. To combat this, regularly review each staff person's expected duties, and what he or she is doing outside of those. When productivity begins to lag, this information will provide some insight into where the bottlenecks might be.
Make Goals Specific and Prioritize Them
Some organizations set goals that are fairly vague, such as "improve network security" or "lower power and cooling costs." These can only be useful if they're broken down into achievable steps that are assigned to individual staff members. Assigning a priority to which goals are the most important is essential for success.
Also important is to provide a timeline in which these steps must be completed, even if a project doesn't actually have a hard deadline. Leaving goal achievement as an open-ended task in a schedule will often result in the goal getting pushed to the bottom of a to-do list.
As staff members take the steps they need toward a goal, provide feedback but don't micromanage. In order to hit their targets, employees have to take ownership over a specific goal.
Employ Selective Outsourcing
Asking IT staff to do absolutely everything — including application delivery, network upgrades, disaster recovery, intrusion detection and security solution maintenance — will likely begin to get overwhelming for a staff of any size.
For instance, as endpoint security becomes even more important, and mobile workforces move into being the norm, outsourcing specific services can be a boon to IT productivity. Expert providers can alleviate the feelings of being overwhelmed, and allow staff to focus on high-value tasks. Plus, experienced providers can offer industry-wide expertise and insights that will help an IT staff operate more effectively.
Even implementing a few of these methods can help increase productivity, and organizations will see more than technology benefits — IT staff that feel productive also tend to feel engaged and mission-driven. That leads to lower turnover, which is especially important in such a competitive field as IT.
In order to determine which areas of IT might benefit from strategies like selective outsourcing, consider undergoing a comprehensive IT evaluation, which can help identify areas where IT staff time could be used more efficiently.