Your business’s tech stack works hard. But if your IT team is working even harder to keep it functioning, it might not be working smart. Tech is designed to solve problems, but it can sometimes introduce new ones. This leads to extra effort and wasted time spent solving these issues. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to avoid this fate. Here are some pointers for making sure your tech and thus your company is working smarter instead of harder.
Vet Your Tech Regularly
Often one of the main reasons behind the inefficient tech is simply that it hasn’t been upgraded in a while. Old software that was bought for a younger company can hold evolving businesses back. The features in old tools may not continue to meet business needs several years down the line. They’re also likely to be slow or have outdated user interfaces.
It’s easy to let old tech languish when you have to deal with the business’s day-to-day needs. But it’s much smarter to be proactive about the tech you’re using. Establish a process for reexamining your tech every year or so and assign someone in the company to own that task. If a tool or software package is no longer the best solution for the business, look for alternatives.
Go Back to Your Foundations
It’s easy to overlook things like the Wi-Fi network you use or the data center your website hosts. But not all IT providers are created equal, and new players may have come on the market since you laid these foundations. Or your needs may have changed. Perhaps you need better WiFi connectivity or more data storage space.
These underpinnings are more complicated to update than user-facing apps, so it may be a tall order to revisit them every year. Still, it’s smart to examine and potentially upgrade them regularly, so determine a timeline that works for you.
Look to the Cloud
One of the most common, proven methods for making your tech work smarter is moving workloads to the cloud. Cloud computing takes all the management work off your shoulders, freeing up your employees to focus on more valuable tasks.
There are a couple of approaches to using the cloud. One is to use cloud apps, applications hosted on the cloud and sold to you on a subscription basis. This is increasingly becoming the norm in the business world; even traditional Microsoft Office applications have become cloud apps. Using cloud apps lessens workloads for your business because it means someone else is in charge of maintenance, updates, and hosting. They allow your users to work from any device, too.
You can also put your own proprietary data or apps in the cloud by renting server space from cloud providers. The cloud provider then takes care of maintenance, provisioning, security, and other management tasks that would otherwise fall to a dedicated IT team. This frees up your IT staff to focus on other things and helps ensure that your data center will always be up and running.
Many of the most commonly used business apps have built-in integrations to other popular apps. If you can get your apps to integrate, you’ll make your end users’ lives much easier. Manually transferring data from one platform to another can lead to mistakes. If solutions can integrate, these processes can be automated.
Indeed, integrating your apps sometimes means more up-front work for the IT team. After that, though, the whole company will have fewer hassles to deal with in the long term.
Don’t Get To Purchase Happy.
It’s tempting to buy a tech solution to fix every problem. When old software causes a new business process problem, many companies purchase new software patches over that problem. This cycle can easily repeat until you have more software than you ever truly needed. The result is a massive and ever-growing tech stack.
This slows everything down. IT has more to manage, and users have more platforms to keep track of. It also makes any future upgrades more difficult because you have more entrenched software solutions to replace.
If you find your company is heading in the tech bloat direction, ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. Now is the time to take steps to consolidate and simplify your technology stack. If you don’t currently suffer from software bloat, make sure you consciously strive to avoid it. Think carefully about each solution you purchase and try to first fix issues rather than papering over them with net-new software.
Adopt Innovative Technologies
Innovative technologies like AI or the Internet of Things have a reputation for being only available to massive enterprises. But these technologies have evolved enough that they’re now accessible to businesses of all sizes.
AI and machine learning have been incorporated into many new software tools to monitor usage data and make predictions. Often, these predictions can help your teams work smarter and more efficiently. Meanwhile, IoT devices like smart speakers, smart printers, or even smart thermostats can make your employees’ day-to-day lives easier. If your business isn’t as efficient as it could be, a tech innovation might hold the answer.
Right-Size Your IT Team
Often, technology problems escalate simply because you don’t have the right team on the job. A team that’s too small will be swamped with day-to-day management activities and unable to look ahead. On the other hand, a team that’s too large may be prone to inefficiency. You need the right amount and the right type of talent on your IT team. If you choose your staff well, they may have their own creative ideas about how your tech can work smarter.
Also, make sure that the processes your IT team follows — for provisioning, installation, updates, etc. — are efficient and make sense. Sometimes, technology issues aren’t caused by the tech itself but by how tech is managed. IT teams should review their processes just as often as they vet the technology they are responsible for. Technology exists to help your company work smarter, but it can only do so if it’s being deployed as effectively as possible. Follow these guidelines to help you streamline and optimize your company’s tech.