Productivity is often overlooked as a metric when measuring the performance of your IT team. While it may not be as measurable as other key performance indicators (KPIs), the productivity of your IT team is a significant factor in your bottom line.
There is a simple reason for that: IT teams are overwhelmed — facing several challenges concurrently, i.e.,
- Keeping up with the daily onslaught of IT tickets
- Updating LOB software
- Hardware refresh
- Migrating to a new OS/Server
- Following a mandate from above to drive Digital Transformation and innovation
While your IT team is doing their best, they often have to get more work done with fewer hands — leaving the only option is to increase productivity. Alternatively, it's only a matter of time until you are facing anything from end user slowdowns/breakdowns to company-wide epidemics because your infrastructure is vulnerable to data breaches, malware attacks, and more.
Regardless of what your IT team is going through, the need for increasing their productivity is high. Here are five easy ways to increase productivity today:
Reduce Tedious Tasks
One of the biggest roadblocks to a productive team occurs when they are stuck in the daily monotony of tasks that seem to last forever and often take up a large chunk of the day. While these are important and need to be done, they lower employee morale, which can make the tasks take even longer to complete.
The solution to this is to IT automate wherever and whenever possible:
- Look through your IT ticket log and determine the most common 20-30 issues that take up 80% of your team's time. Then create a repository of fixes and allow your end users to identify and execute those fixes using a wizard-driven self-help tool.
- Streamline your packaging and testing process by automating the entire workflow from application discovery, suitability testing, and re-certification for compatibility, all the way to user acceptability testing and deployment. This can easily cut 65% of your workload and vastly accelerate the rest.
- Automatically scan your environment and detect potentially bigger problems before they become epidemics. By quickly ring-fencing these issues, you can fix a problem before it becomes widespread and causes havoc.
Breaking out of the mundane that can clog up a day allows your employees to solve new problems, which is more satisfying and not as mind-numbing as the daily grind.
Enable Your End Users To Take Responsibility For Their Devices
Even in organizations where IT has a great relationship with its end users, there is always some sort of adversarial relationship between them. In some companies, employees said they would rather clean toilets than call IT for support. This animosity causes business units to create rogue IT teams, the so-called Shadow IT, which almost always leads to application sprawl, security vulnerabilities, and unsupported software. Needless to say, this is something you want to avoid at all cost.
Empowering your end users to be an active part of the IT aspect of their jobs makes them feel like they are a part of the decision-making process, makes them feel responsible and often more willing to cooperate with IT. One way of doing this is to give them ownership over something they use every day that is directly tied to their productivity — their work device(s).
Making them responsible for its health, for improving it, and for being part of the update process (which they do on their home devices) will not only give them a sense of pride, but will take away the "pass the buck" excuse for their device being slow, out of date, etc. Using Access AGENT, an employee receives a device health score and suggestions for continually trying to improve that score.
A toxic company culture can bring productivity to a halt and curtail company initiatives. Culture starts at the top with management and flows down to every employee, holding them accountable for their actions, or lack thereof. Some ways to improve culture:
- Have team building exercises. It doesn't need to be a fancy retreat. It can be something as simple as a weekly lunch, monthly after-work get together, or in-office activity. It's the time together not working that counts.
- Have regular meetings, but don't overdo it. Regular meetings are important — they let your team know what the company's goals are and what's expected of them. Meetings also hold them accountable and let them voice their opinions, but don't fall into the trap of having so many meetings that there is no longer time for work or a proper "flow" on most days.
- While some employees might need extra attention, micro-managing their every move will cause them to either be frustrated with their job, or second-guess their every decision. Talent and creativity can only flow in an environment where an employee has freedom to do his or her job.
Grow With The Team You Have
One of the biggest hurdles and pitfalls to growing a company is having to increase head count. Hiring too fast leads to lower quality employees, overspending on hardware, and a ballooning overhead for healthcare, HR, etc. On the flip side, automation is seen as a threat to employees because "it will take away their jobs." However, combining growth and automation is a win-win for your company and employees.
As stated earlier in our first point, automation can be used to lessen tedious tasks for your employees, but it can also do more. Automation can be used to completely automate a majority, if not all of a segment, of your workforce's tasks. Instead of laying off those valuable employees who you have spent countless hours and dollars training and molding, move them into new positions to foster growth.
Like the company Boxed, which could have laid off 75% of their workforce, retraining the current employees you have, who have a vested interest in the company's success (401k, healthcare, etc.), is more advantageous than hiring new staff who you would still have to train, and who might not fit in with your company culture, or prove to be unproductive.
Knowledge, or the lack thereof, can be the single biggest advantage or disadvantage to your team's efficiency. Within your organization, there is a wealth of knowledge from raw data to manuals with detailed processes.
However, this data is often siloed and not accessible to departments or even team members who could make use of it. Having a central repository where all this data can be accessed, analyzed, and shared, and where automation tools constantly keep it connected and updated, prevents data from sitting on a digital shelf unused.
We all know that keeping a well-documented trail is the key to success in IT. As IT automation often requires business processes to be centralized and efficiently designed, it offers an unsurpassed opportunity to not only properly document but also commonly make all the knowledge available to your entire team.
Another issue that many enterprises face involves access. While data might be organized and centralized, access to it may be restricted to upper management only. Employees and lower team leads might not even be aware it exists. Making the data transparent empowers your employees to improve their efficiency. Another added benefit of transparency is the increased morale of your workforce. Knowing that they can view this data, or at least request reasonable access to it if it is of a more sensitive nature, reduces an employee's feeling that the company is hiding something from them.
There are many ways to increase your IT team's productivity, and each organization is different. But experience has shown that the most powerful ways have three things in common: they remove labor-intensive busy work that clogs up employees' workday, they increase trust, and they allow room for creativity to flourish.
IT automation not only reduces or eliminates as much of the mundane to-dos as possible but it also passes responsibility and accountability to end users - allowing your team to focus on innovation, Digital Transformation, and increasing your company's bottom line.
What are some of your ways you have implemented to increase your IT team's productivity? Please feel free to share them in the comments below!