Your business’s IT department is responsible for keep operations humming. It’s their job to maintain the computer systems behind the scenes so your team has access to the business-critical data they need to do their jobs. Unfortunately, you can’t always see what happens behind the scenes. Can you tell when your IT department starts to lose steam? Your IT department may be overworked and under resourced and you want to make sure you take steps before disaster strikes.
There are tell tale signs that can alert you before you have a critical failure:
1. The IT Staff is Working Long HoursEvery company culture is different, and in some cultures long hours are expected, but overworking your staff, especially your technical team, leads to burnout. The Families and Work Institute published a study that revealed that 28 percent of U.S. employees feel overworked. If you see your tech support team consistently putting in overtime, then they are either overworked, inefficient, or understaffed. You need to determine which the case is, and fix it.
2. “I Need New Hardware and Better Software”Your IT manager is your first contact for anything to do with the company’s computer operations. If he or she is asking for frequent hardware and software upgrades, or new systems to replace systems that have not reached their predicted life expectancy, it could be that the new systems are being used to cover up hidden issues. Rather than take the time to deal with existing integration issues or upgrade current configurations, it may seem easier to rip and replace the infrastructure instead. This could be an expensive solution to a problem that could better be addressed with more staff or outside help. Before embarking on a major systems upgrade, ask for an outside opinion.
3. Routine Tasks are DelayedWhen routine operational tasks are delayed or rescheduled, it’s an obvious sign that your IT team is falling behind. Tasks such as systems backups, malware upgrades, and operations inventory should not be put off. If the IT staff is overworked, consider getting them more help. If hiring more staff isn’t an option because of budget concerns, consider getting outside help.
4. Inability to Prioritize ProjectsAnother sign that IT may be overextended is an inability to prioritize or deliver on scheduled projects. The IT staff shouldn’t struggle to choose between updating the company’s CRM software or installing new accounting software. If there are too many fires burning on the IT manager’s desk, help him or her prioritize and either change delivery schedules or get more assistance.
5. Simple Problems Take Too Long to RepairIn any computer network, things go wrong. A printer might break or need repair, or a monitor might need to be replaced. If these types of repairs aren’t being dealt with promptly then something’s wrong. Or if you are using “loaner” hardware or have to resurrect outdated systems from storage to replace equipment that needs repair or replacement, make sure those outdated systems don’t become permanent.
6. No Time to Plan For Future GrowthComputer networks are living things and they continue to change and grow. If your IT department is too busy addressing current operations to plan for the future, that’s a red flag. That same Families and Work Institute study showed that and 29 percent of employees don’t have time to reflect on their work. That means they don’t have time to plan, either. You need a cohesive and well-thought-out strategy for systems growth. That includes keeping track of currently installed systems with an understanding of their expected performance life cycle, and having a strategy in place for upgrades. It also means that your in-house IT professionals should be keeping track of new technologies and making recommendations about installing new servers or systems that can improve performance while reducing costs.
These are just a few of the indicators that it may be time to upgrade your IT support. That doesn’t necessary mean hiring a new team of IT gurus. Consider segmenting IT tasks into more manageable pieces; determine which ones need critical attention, which ones can be outsourced, and how to structure your IT team differently.
For example, using a printer management service is an easy way to free more IT time. Most IT departments spend an inordinate amount of time on printer repair, including replacing paper and toner. IDC research shows that by outsourcing print services, companies get 40 percent fewer help desk calls. That’s time that IT gains back to deal with more important issues.
Or consider the potential savings from cloud technology. An external service provider that specializes in cloud systems can show you how to offload routine procedures such as backup, and how to migrate other systems to the cloud where they can run with little or no oversight from IT. Rather than being responsible for managing a host of different servers and applications, the IT department becomes responsible for maintaining access to the cloud; the cloud service provider does the rest. This leaves IT management free to refine existing protocols and procedures and plan for the future.
Watch for red flags and talk to your IT team about how to make their jobs more efficient and their lives easier. Maybe it’s time to look outside the organization for a fresh perspective and new ways to address your company’s current computing needs.
What other red flags have you noticed in the past to begin upgrading your IT support?