Time to call the IT Department again?

As time goes on, computers become more and more important to every aspect of life, whether that is leisure or work.

For businesses, this means an ever-increasing focus on keeping computers, networks, and servers working as smoothly as possible. As the demand for computer maintenance increases, so too does the size and expense of an IT department.

Added to this is the fact that most businesses want their infrastructure at as close to 100 percent efficiency at all times. The expectation is for IT maintenance departments to keep pace with growing networks, whilst making sure that every element is working as it should.

With the growing expense of large IT maintenance teams, many businesses are asking themselves if they truly need an on-site department, or if there is some viable alternative.

Is IT Getting in the way?

Anyone who has ever worked in an office with an on-site IT department knows the frustrations that can build.

It is not an uncommon situation to find certain work practices scorned or banned by IT departments, usually for reasons citing security. However, for some businesses, perhaps on-site computer maintenance is getting in the way of progress and, in turn, business.

For the worker who likes using a certain file-transfer program, be it Dropbox, Aspera, YouSendIt, and finds them a convenient way of transferring information, they need to use programs that they are comfortable with. However, an IT Department may take the view that certain programs are unsafe to use.

The ideal is to have small IT groups working with each part of the business, ensuring that work, help and maintenance is specific and targeted.

This is a clear clash between the business side of the concern and the IT maintenance side, and it is usually the IT side that will win out. However, a different way of thinking might be in order to push the business forward.
If business employees find something like Dropbox to be extremely quick and useful, the IT Department of a business needs to react to accommodate that, rather than stamp it out. The business must state what they need to be successful and have it.

This means changing the predominant culture of IT and maintenance in many businesses, small and large. A centralised IT Maintenance Department is an unwieldy thing, which cannot possibly react to the needs of multiple departments. The ideal is to have small IT groups working with each part of the business, ensuring that work, help and maintenance is specific and targeted.

  • IT should be reactive to business needs, not a roadblock. 
  • A centralised, large IT Maintenance Department cannot respond to every department’s need.
  • Small, targeted teams within each department could provide specific help and maintenance.

A Mixture of On-site and Off-site

For many businesses, the ideal solution may rest in making use of the cloud, communication software such as Skype or other VoIP programs, and onsite coordination.

By moving elements of IT off-site, the business would make savings in a number of areas. The basic expenses such as office space and electricity usage fall by having off-site IT. The real benefits, however, come not in the form of savings, but in a more flexible and modern approach to maintenance and IT.

Those off-site IT workers do not necessarily require an on-site IT department to liase with, and could become part of another department or even attached in small groups to specific departments. Their reportage would then come under the direction of that department, with both sides working toward specific, targeted needs rather than as an unwieldy centralised force.
IT workers could still work together and liase, but over the cloud and VoIP, rather than face to face. This arrangement also benefits departments within the business, as they become more aware of their needs and how to work with IT to deliver them, rather than being at odds.

  • The future could see mostly or all off-site IT.
  • This would reduce overhead costs, as well as creating a more modern organisation.
  • If attached to specific departments, IT Maintenance teams could work to produce targeted and specific solutions.
  • Working together, both IT and business departments appreciate and gain understanding of the other’s work, enabling them to work together more harmoniously.

Freedom Can Mean Results

When at work, no one cares for a boss who is constantly looking over their shoulder and asking for more, but many IT maintenance departments regularly find themselves under such pressure. Moreover, as we have seen above, many are so centralised than it can be hard to push work in a single direction.
Once liberated from that pressure, when they have a single task or department to focus on, a worker can see exactly how their work has an impact. Enabling people to work on specific, long-term projects with the same people repeatedly is the perfect way to ensure that someone invests in their work.

Working remotely from home or another location can free a worker from the feeling of simply escaping wrath for a slow or downed network, and empower them to be accountable to themselves and their department.

  • A centralised IT force can be hard to control, even for those in it.
  • If liberated from a centralised department, workers have more freedom and attachment to specific tasks or departments.
  • Having freedom can mean a worker is more accountable to themselves and the specific department they work for. Rather than never knowing how their work actually helps the business.
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