Most of the time our IT departments crank away in the background, with little attention paid to how they’re spending time or what could make their efforts more efficient. Then a server crash, hacker attack, or failure of a system catapults IT to the front of the picture – often with blame attached.
Like any productive member of your teams, IT needs support to be effective. Want the best IT security, a top-notch work environment and the most efficient work processes? Eliminate hassles for your IT staff and give them tools to do their jobs so they don’t become Business Time Wasters.
Wasting Time: The 5 Worst IT Time Drains
Certain companies conduct studies to determine what’s sucking working hours out of their IT staff, but to date no official studies on across-the-board IT time wasters have been released. But according to IT professionals who work with large companies and see what goes on behind the scenes, these five time wasters likely rank at the top of such a list.
1. Unnecessary Calls to Tech Support
Many IT professionals claim between 80 and 90-percent of the calls they receive could be avoided if the callers simply rebooted the computer before calling. Other time-wasting calls to tech support include employees who didn’t read their system manuals or forgot their training and called tech support rather than referring to their manuals or training documents.
2. Asking for Unnecessary or Redundant Reports
Every manager has a list of reports he wants to track progress in certain areas, money spent on specific campaigns, productivity of specific teams and so on. Often, several managers are asking for separate reports on the same information – and one report would suffice. IT spends a lot of time and effort tracking data, generating reports and distributing redundant reports.
3. Failing to Centralize Processes
Department A wants their own database for this, and department B wants their own app for that. Similarly, many companies buy software for specific departmental tasks that could be utilized by other departments, but the package is isolated from the rest of the company. Each new application or software package introduced complicates work processes and lowers security.
4. Opening Unsafe Emails or Downloading Infected Files
Users who habitually open emails from unknown contacts or download files from unknown sources make the entire network vulnerable. Viruses, malware and other Internet threats are developed and unleashed daily from all over the globe. This is a constant battle for IT professionals – pulling their time away from developing new software to make the company productive and fighting problems that could have been avoided.
5. Outdated Hardware and Software
New equipment and software is expensive. But when you figure in downtime of workers from system glitches or hardware problems, plus the overtime vested in IT staff working to reestablish the workflow, a new system might be far more cost-effective.
Saving Time: How To Avoid the 5 Worst It Time Drains
Image via Flickr by mbgrigby
1. Establish a Checklist for Employees to Go Through Before Calling IT
If you stroll through the office, you’re likely to notice that every other worker has a sticky note with the Help Desk number. They’re not trying to waste valuable company time – they’re simply focused on their jobs and if something goes wrong with the computer they call the experts.
Sit down with your IT staff and draft a simple list of “to do’s” for employees to run through before calling for help. This list should include checking for the most common problems (IT will know what these are) and rebooting the computer. If this short list of procedures doesn’t fix the problem, then the employee can call for help.
2. Offer a Menu of Available Reports
Ask your IT department for a list of reports they’re currently generating. Together with your IT staff, identify which reports are actually useful to what departments. Eliminate reports that produce redundant information, and make a single report available to cover multiple manager’s requests, when possible.
Then make the list of reports available to managers. Each manager can opt in or out of receiving reports. But before a manager requests an additional report from IT, he or she needs to check the available list. Most of the time, the information the manager needs is already on an available report.
3. Centralizing Processes
Unlike establishing employee guidelines for Help Desk calls or consolidating reports, these processes are in integral part of departmental procedures. Together with the IT staff, compile a list of all the apps and software packages used by each department. Identify overlap and centralize these apps whenever possible. This will make it far easier for IT to keep up with who is accessing what information, which leads to a more secure and smoothly running system.
4. Define Guidelines for Emails and Downloads
Freedom is a double-edged sword. It’s important to give employees liberty to pursue new clients and opportunities, but equally important to maintain a safe and secure network. Have your IT department develop guidelines for opening emails from unknown contacts, opening files embedded in emails and downloading files from the Internet.
5. Analyze and Update
Keeping up with the Joneses requires buying what the Joneses buy. Slow computers, sluggish Internet connections and clunky software might cost only seconds per employee per task. But when multiplied by dozens or hundreds of workers, each at eight or more hours every day, it becomes a tremendous drain on productivity. A survey of your workers and feedback from your IT team should give you a good idea when it’s time for upgrades.
Via Flickr by Ronald Fitch
As you implement these strategies, you’re setting an example. Your IT staff will feel recognized and appreciated. And you are highlighting to your employees that time and effort by the IT department is just as valuable to the company as any other work process.
In turn, IT will work harder for you, and the rest of the company will have a renewed sense of appreciation for what IT does. Your rewards will include a committed staff of highly trained and intelligent people committed to making your systems more efficient, more cost-effective and more secure.