IT spending is on track to hit $3.9 billion worldwide by 2019, according to Gartner. For support, however, more technology spending doesn’t always translate to more full-time employees, and outsourcing doesn’t necessarily balance your workload. If you work on a small IT team no doubt you’re feeling the crunch and not enough manpower. Here are five tips to help growing IT teams make ends meet.
1. Job Number One
According to Sébastien Baehni, VP of Engineering at end-user analytics company Nexthink, one of the biggest challenges facing smaller helpdesks is prioritizing tasks to ensure other employees “can work and do their day job.” The problem with that is it’s easy to get lost in “urgent” requests from the executives or by ongoing technical issues that leave other “very important” tasks on the back burner.
In addition to affecting production and throughput, leaving these issues unresolved opens the door for security vulnerabilities. If possible, take a deep breath and ask for user feedback. This lets you tackle the “low-hanging fruit” issues which, although they may generate thousands of reports and complaints, aren’t at the top of your urgent list. Often, however, they’re easy to eliminate and can clear space for more critical line-of-business (LOB) tickets.
2. Mind the Gap
There are more than 210,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs in the United States, as noted by Infosecurity Magazine, and upwards of a million worldwide. So even if the approved budget includes a new hire (or two), you may still be unable to find the right candidate to fill the position. And while it may seem counterintuitive given your existing workload, the simplest way to address security concerns and get your department back on track is sending at least a few staff members for up-to-date security training. The result? You fix security holes rather than patching them with duct tape and hoping for the best.
3. All for One
Baehni also offers advice for IT teams looking for the most effective way to handle diverse task lists with limited staff. In his experience, an “all-for-one” approach — wherein teams work together to solve emergent issues and employees actively identify problems and solutions on their own — produces better results than “silos” or compartmentalization . It makes sense: What happens if your ‘ideal’ network expert gets sick or moves to another company? By diversifying talent and hiring people with the ‘agility, curiosity and intellectual honesty required to identify issues,’ it is possible to build a team of self-improving experts who collectively handle critical support tasks.
4. Overtime Opt-Out
Overtime is often a bone of contention for sysadmins. According to Fortune, for example, tech giant Amazon has come under fire for expecting big overtime commitments from employees, in some cases giving the eCommerce retailer an air of “inhuman meritocracy”. Beyond loss of focus and potential burnout associated with mandatory overtime, however, there’s the larger problem of “making things work.” If support teams are constantly taking on overtime just to complete basic tasks, executives get the sense that the understaffed model is a success since nothing’s actively falling apart. Sometimes, a little pressure is a good thing.
5. Embrace the Shadows
What happens when IT can’t keep up? Shadow IT emerges. According to Windows IT Pro, in fact, a survey of CIOs revealed that companies are spending between 5 and 15 percent of their budget managing shadow IT — money that could be better spent taking the pressure off you. The simplest route between shadow and light? Embrace popular tools and processes where possible, rather than fighting the battle on principle. You’ll find happier users and fewer security holes to patch.
Want to take the pressure off your team? Find ways to target what matters, work smarter not harder and leverage the right tools for the job.