Don't Overlook the Day to Day
Throughout the years I've talked about what's new, what we see our customers doing and embracing, and the trends we see when it comes to IT is used. To be sure, this is exciting stuff and I will continue to talk about it in detail. These "exciting" things are what will propel IT into the future by finding new ways to doing things and helping to drive "business value"—whatever "business value" is determined to be for that specific organization. I am all for it and it's one of the reasons I have remained in the IT world for almost 25 years. But sadly, one of the things that is often overlooked in lieu of the "exciting" and trending technologies is efficient day to day operations and its importance. You can have the best technologies money can buy, but if you don't have efficient operations you won't be happy with said technology.
Why is that? Our IT environments and systems are much more efficient and resilient as compare to 10, 15, and 20 years ago. The technology and systems we use tend to work and are expected to work. Systems perform their function and do what they are supposed to. Plus, they are expected to do so, since IT is so much more integrated into our businesses and processes than even before. Being down is just not an option today. Don't believe me? Ask IT veterans that have been around for 20+ years. Back then, 5 nines (99.999% up-time) of availability was only achieved in highly redundant mainframe environments. Today, it's expected within Windows environments even for smaller IT environments and it's being achieved. How things have changed.
It's precisely because of this that the day to day upkeep, care and feeding of IT environments is more important than ever. And, as I said earlier, it's often overlooked. And that, as my kids would say, is a bummer for all.
We talk to and work with so many different organizations and one common trait is that none of them are over-staffed. None of them tell me that they have too many people supporting their environment and their day to day operations. We all know the opposite is true. They are all trying to save money and in most cases have just enough, or not enough, people to support their day to day operations efficiently. Because technologies are so efficient they are able to operate that way. We've been in meetings with executives and their IT managers where the executives are discussing how efficient their IT operations are while the IT manager and IT admins are sitting there all frazzled barely keeping their head above water responding to support calls while in the meeting. It's something we see much more often than you would think.
So what is the message here? Don't overlook the day to day operations and how important they are for your IT departments to help achieve business goals. Day to day can include many things: general IT support, updates to OS's and firmware updates, seamlessly refreshing technologies and environments, supporting users/clients and ensuring that the IT services provided are and stay up and running. But it's also more than that. It includes testing the environment for vulnerabilities and fixing them, make sure environments are highly available and prepared for an emergency (which we all hope never comes), and continually testing it to make sure all will continue to work as needed and expected.
While focusing up on the day to day, how do you find time to research, focus and deliver on new strategies and technologies to help drive value forward? Large companies have separate architecture, engineering, and operations teams to help carve up the roles, but smaller and mid-sized companies rely upon their people who provide support and do the day to day to do this. There's advantages to this within mid-sized and smaller organizations: the people supporting the environment day to day tend to have an excellent handle and understanding of what is truly needed to be added and/or improved upon. The challenge is it's difficult to find the time to get new initiatives done. That's a big reason why larger companies’ separate operations from other teams, like architecture and engineering. It's hard to do it all and stay focused.
Also, when the day to day teams have something unexpected happen, such as surge in demand and need to scale, a new initiative that has to be spun up quickly, or even working through a disaster, how is this to be handled? So much time is dedicated towards day to day support and these teams tend to run very lean. One way is to have a good ecosystem of partners to lean on when needed which is something I've talked about it a lot, or some would say ad nauseam. But it so critical.
The other is to ensure your day to day people have the resources that they need and time to get things done so they aren't constantly just fighting fires, but trying to improve things and bring ideas forward. And you know what? Your people would love to step up and help to make things better if they have your support and the time to do it. But don't lose sight on how important it is for the day to day operations to run along smoothly and don't take it for granted when they do.
Your day to day services and support are critical for IT operations success. Give your people the support, time, and resources that they need and they will not only surprise you in how efficient they can be, they'll help inspire positive and proactive change to help drive even more value to the organization. So let's raise a glass to the day to day people. We need them and thank them for all that they do even when end users don't truly realize how important they are. But we certainly do.
Until next month…