What does it mean to optimize IT? It means to make an IT environment function as effectively as possible, and this usually involves simplifying all the moving parts that come with technology.
Your IT should work for your business from an infrastructure standpoint and a user standpoint. So, let’s take a look at technology-based solutions and people-based solutions to optimize and simplify your IT environment.
How to Optimize IT: Technology-Based Solutions
Managed Services is one of the easiest ways to simplify and streamline your IT environment. This outsourcing solution moves tasks from your IT team’s plate to your Managed Services Provider’s. This takes stress off your IT team and eliminates monotonous tasks like installing patches, verifying backups, managing vendor support requests, and answering user questions. Additionally, MSPs grant you access to a wide array of IT expertise, so you do not need to worry about hiring or training the talent you need for your business.
Managed Services also make it easy to scale with your business, so your needs are always covered. As you grow or downsize, you can work with your MSP to add and remove users or modify your contract. This allows you to make changes that benefit your business without worrying about gaps in your technology.
Not only do Managed Services reduce stress and boost productivity within the office, but it creates predictable and consolidated costs. Rather than IT being a fixed cost that fluctuates depending on your needs at a given time, MSPs offer a consistent monthly cost for their services. You only need to worry about additional costs if you need a service that falls outside of your contract.
Managed Services Providers provide a wide range of services and optimize your IT in the background, so your IT environment works for you as efficiently as possible without interrupting day-to-day business.
The cloud is a growing platform in IT as it allows businesses to consolidate their infrastructure and resources into one central system that can be accessed anywhere with internet connection. This easy access to information and resources has changed the way employees can work by boosting productivity and collaboration in and outside of the office.
With cloud computing, you can reduce the cost of housing and managing physical hardware such as servers or networking infrastructure by hosting it in a public, private, or hybrid cloud. The cloud also makes data storage, backup, and recovery simple and efficient in the case of a disaster. By consolidating cost- and space-consuming resources, you are simplifying your IT environment and making it function more efficiently.
Like Managed Services, the cloud allows for easy scalability as your business changes in size and needs. Also, like Managed Services Providers, there are Cloud Services Providers to help you with planning, implementing, and managing your cloud environment. This takes the bulk of stress associated with migration and management off your plate.
PEI is a Managed Services Provider, but we also offer cloud services specializing in Microsoft Azure. With the easy access and increased computing power of resources in the cloud, its no wonder businesses are making the jump. As an accessible platform where various resources are stored, the Cloud is a simple solution to optimize IT.
I’ve already mentioned consolidating in relation to Managed Services and cloud services, but why is it beneficial? Consolidation simplifies your IT environment by reducing the number of resources—many which require separate licensing—but maintaining the same capabilities. This means you have less to manage, and often at a lower price.
For example, the cloud can consolidate a lot of your IT infrastructure into a single platform, making it an accessible and space-saving solution.
Or, some Managed Services Providers offer contract management services. An MSP takes over your contracts, becoming a middleman between you and vendors. Rather than managing your licenses and purchases through multiple vendors, you instead work with one provider. This consolidates your contracts and communications to one source.
Another common example of consolidation gained traction with the rise of remote work—communication platforms. Microsoft Teams is a great example. While calling, and conferencing and chatting were different licenses that businesses separately purchased in the past, platforms such as Teams consolidate the multiple licenses into one platform with all the same features and more.
Consolidation allows you to get more for less. With fewer scattered resources, fewer points of communication to manage, and fewer platforms to navigate, your business can function more efficiently with the same capabilities as before.
Automation can sound scary. Who wants to give up control of their IT environment, especially when it involves taking tasks away from people and running them through computer systems instead? However, automation is not as intimidating as it may sound. In reality, it saves time and boosts productivity.
The most compelling argument for automation is the reduction of human error in routine maintenance and security tasks. Automation also creates consistency in tasks. Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) is a great example of automation. This security solution analyzes behavior to detect and respond to threats such as malware or even identify a potentially stolen password without the need for manual human intervention.
EDR, like other automated tasks, runs in the background and does not interrupt day-to-day business. This reduces downtime, boosts productivity, and saves money. It is up to your business to decide what to automate and what to manually take on. The simplest tasks that require the most time and effort are usually a good place to start. So, why not consider automation when it can simplify and optimize your IT environment?
How to Optimize IT: People-Based Solutions
When it comes to simplifying IT, the technology and systems a business uses are first to the table. However, the users of those technology solutions are just as important. Users need to understand what they are using and how to use it. So, let’s look at people-based optimization solutions.
End User Training
Technology is only as good as the people using it, and when users are not trained properly, your technology may be working against your business. Without proper training, technology gets complicated. So, when the goal is to simplify, training can go a long way to ensure your users smoothly adopt new technologies and processes.
PEI’s instructor-led and self-paced online training solutions can help meet this need. With a variety of trainings on different solutions like Microsoft Teams and OneDrive, users can feel confident with the resources they need to do their job.
When users don’t know how to use the tools you give them, they tend to make a mess. And chances are, you’ll be the one cleaning it up. End user training is an easy solution to simplify IT for your users and give them confidence to maximize the benefits of their technology.
When it comes to technology, there should be clear procedures and permissions in place, so your users know exactly what they have access to, and what they are and are not allowed to do with their resources. Identity Governance is a great example of governance in IT that starts at the top and works its way down. You should have one person or group with access to your complete IT environment who can assign the proper accesses to all other users. You wouldn’t want your sales intern to have the same accesses as your IT Systems Manager, would you?
In a previous blog post, we shared information on Teams Governance. This is a guide for establishing governance within Microsoft Teams, so the platform is not a free-for-all among users. The guide includes questions such as, who should be able to create a new team and what should they be named so that your SharePoint architecture stays organized and easy to manage?
Governance allows you to align your IT with your business goals so the two work together. In order to establish governance, you need to consider different procedures, and most likely establish a hierarchy of IT access. On top of it all, users need to understand how they fit into these procedures to maximize your IT. When established properly, governance can eliminate confusion, and simplify IT for your business.
Optimization for Simplification
I’m not going to tell you to go into work tomorrow and implement every one of these strategies because that, quite frankly, is overwhelming. But, starting the process of evaluating, planning, and adopting these strategies will help you ensure your IT environment is on its way to functioning as effectively as possible. Whether you focus on simplifying your IT with a technology solution(s), people-based solution(s), or both, you will create a better-functioning environment that is easier to manage.
If simplification seems overwhelming, look for the overlap of these various solutions as a starting point. Cloud computing can be a strategy for consolidation, and governance can include end user training. Managed Services can include cloud computing, consolidation, automation, end user training, and even help you establish governance practices.
If you have questions about simplifying IT for your business, contact PEI today. We are happy to help you decide on the best solutions to optimize your IT.
Anna Ross, PEI