How to Run Your IT Operation Like a Business
You know that continuous improvement and the drive to become more efficient at work can help you boost your business as a whole, but how about individual departments? Did you know that many people don’t really plan their IT operations along the same metrics that they manage other departments? This can take a toll on IT departments if they begin to rely on outdated methods and strategies or ignore best practices.
Surely, though, you want (and need) your IT department to work differently than that. You know that your IT personnel are critical to the success of your organization. You also know that keeping your IT systems going without modifying how the department works can become a recipe for inefficiency if you’re not applying sound business best practices along the way.
In this article, we’ll help you get your IT department organized and on-track. We have tips that may help your department develop guiding metrics and figure out a workflow that helps the entire organization to work better than before. Your IT department can contribute more while also becoming more productive, which can be better for everyone involved in the long run, too. We believe that, in time, IT operations can become much more effective within their organizations and take a leading role in orchestrating necessary change, also.
- What Are the Best Practices for Your Business?
- What Role Can IT Play?
- Use Your VoIP System to Support Your Goals
- Continuous Improvement Practices
In organizations where IT departments take an active role, embracing new technology and implementing technological advances can become a bigger part of the company. We’ll give you some practical steps to apply–you pick and choose what works for your organization and fits your goals.
1. What Are the Best Practices for Your Business?
You likely already have basics like a business plan and long-term goals for your organization that apply to the company as a whole. These will need to be applied or modified to work for your IT department. In fact, you should see if your business can apply your mission and vision to your IT department, as well. One of your key goals should be for your IT department to work harmoniously and closely with your other departments. Your IT department needs to have everything in place to help it be successful and support the other departments as much as possible.
Here are a few best practices and principles to consider:
- Metrics: You need great benchmarks and metrics to let you know where you are and how much progress you’ve been making on your goals. Even the IT department needs its own set of metrics to look out for and follow–this can help you know what’s working and what isn’t. With every change you implement, you can check corresponding metrics and measurements to see if you’re moving in the right direction.
- Goals: Setting goals regularly can give your department direction. It allows you to know at any point where you should be moving and how much progress it’ll take to get there.
- Team Development Plans: You need to plan projects to challenge and develop your team along the way. Keeping great talent today requires offering everyone a meaningful way to progress in their careers and develop their skills. It wouldn’t hurt to have a philosophy of work that operates within your department and gives the team something to think about and see as a meaningful goal for themselves. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but just reflect how your company plans to value the team and encourage their growth.
- Budget: This is something departments traditionally have, but it’s worth noting anyway. You should have a planned budget, if possible, to allow your department some leeway in their own spending and funding. Give them an amount they can allocate however they need to without asking prior permission. Above that threshold, perhaps they’ll need to check with the company for more funding.
- Entrepreneurship: One of the most important aspects of running a department like a business. You want your organization to take on a larger role in ideation and looking for ways to boost efficiency and profitability. The department can be on the lookout for strategies that can grow the business and help the broader organization on a greater level. Since your IT personnel are already immersed in technology, you can use their knowledgebase and experience to boost the rest of the company.
2. What Role Can IT Play?
Now, it’s time to think of the role of IT at your company. If you have a smaller organization, this may be different from what a larger company might have IT do. It can also depend on what industry you’re in and whether there are other technology-focused departments at your company, too.
Regardless, you’ll need to think carefully about this. Is it just about fixing technology when it breaks, or do you want IT to take a greater role by looking strategically and critically at technology. Maybe, if phone service is a key part of your operations and your software integrations are important, too, you’ll need to think about how your IT department can become a bigger part of managing operations and advising other departments on improvements and changes to make. They can become trusted advisers who are on the lookout for
3. Use Your VoIP System to Support Your Goals
Your VoIP system can help you with all of this. One of the most obvious ways, perhaps, is by providing metrics and using analytics. If you think about it, many of today’s systems make it relatively simple to check performance data and analyze it for trends. Your team can pull this information to help inform other decisions and involve the IT team in coming up with meaningful solutions to problems at your organization. Additionally, your VoIP system can be a crucial part of your operations, and gives your IT department a key role to play as they manage and improve upon your VoIP system to make it more effective. Of course, if you have a unified communications system at your organization, then your VoIP system is also a key part of communications at your company and helps your internal organization stay in contact and connected.
So, really, your VoIP system has a huge part to play in helping your IT department and in turn, helping your broader organization.
4. Continuous Improvement Practices
One of the more important principles for any company is to embrace continuous improvement as a philosophy. Most companies can expect their environments to regularly change and force organizations to refocus again and again. Your business is probably no exception to this rule. Continuous improvement is one vital way to stay ahead of frequent change. It means no decision, goal, or metric is the final say on the matter. It means you’re always on the lookout and humble enough to see how change drives your organization and influences the course of your future. No matter what happens, embrace a commitment to question your own assumptions. This is one of the key advantages startups have over lumbering giants–it’s the ability to step back and see the marketplace for what it really is.