5 useful IT best-practices you can easily apply to your business:
Are you a business owner trying to make thing work a little smoother, or are in charge of a small IT team and want to make life easier for your end-users? Do tight budgets and time restraints have you feeling you can’t put anything in place to improve how things work?
Do not despair, there’s something you can do!
You don’t need to be an ITIL-certified master to improve your IT operations and help your team and your end-users (More on that here if you want to learn more about ITIL in the future). There are still some easy IT best-practices you can apply right away, that could make a big difference for you and your business.
I’ll provide you with info on five IT best practices that you can (and should) use in your day-to-day business activities like your service delivery or support request management. Not to worry, nothing here is excessively complicated to learn, understand and apply. Let’s get started right away:
1 - Design a roadmap to have a clear vision of what you need to do
Before starting anything, you should always take the time to analyze and assess your current situation. A roadmap, in IT or anywhere else, describes where you are and where you want to go. You can make this roadmap as detailed as you would like, but it should contain at the very least those elements to be considered a roadmap: An initial assessment of your situation and of your objectives, the planning of what is required to reach those objectives, the implementation and deployment process of those requirements, and finally, continuous improvement and support after the implementation.
Those steps are cyclical and never stop, once you have implemented what you needed to implement, you must first check if it did indeed solve your issue. If it didn’t, well, it’s back to step 1 and if it did work, you should still monitor regularly your new changes, in order to see if it still works of if it could be done better (more on that last point below).
2 - Standardize processes
Processes are a huge part of your IT operations (and a huge part of life really) and it is very important that those processes stay the same as time goes by. For example, you can’t really have one program go through QA and then have another program skip QA. Drastic example, I know, but you get the point. In order to guarantee a level of quality to your end-users or customers, you must have processes where every input that goes through passes through the same steps.
Now, you must be wondering how to ensure you get those same standardized processes everywhere? Part of that solution is below:
3 – Describe those processes clearly
A great way to help standardize those processes is to document and describe what the said process is doing.
Think about it this way: what’s a process really? Simply put, a process is a recipe. When following a recipe for a cake for example, you don’t do the steps backwards, you don’t guess what quantities of flour, sugar or butter are, and you certainly don’t change the ingredients, because if you do, you’ll probably get a pretty bad cake, or at the very least, not the cake you wanted.
So describe your processes like you would write a recipe. With simple, concise steps, to be done in a specific order and leaving no room for improvisation.
That is of course, not the only way that you can help to standardize your processes, but it is a good way to start. For more on process standardization for those of you that are more comfortable with IT best practices, you can read a more technical document from HP, on how they do their own standardization.
4 – Take notes for every ticket resolved
This is a vital thing to do, especially if you’re using a complete Helpdesk or Service Desk tool like Requuest. We have the concept of knowledge base in Requuest, where every note you’ve taken to solve a particular ticket can be available to help you solve similar tickets in the future.
You can’t simply resolve a problem without explaining how you did it in IT nowadays. What if you’re not here next month and the same problem occurs, paralyzing the whole network in your business? It could have serious consequences for your business that could’ve been avoided with about 3 or 4 lines of resolution notes in your knowledge base.
So try to make it a habit (or a part of your process standardization, see where I’m going with this?) in your business to document every known issue that has been solved. It will probably save you and your team a whole lot of trouble down the road.
5 – Continuously keep improving
This may be the most important advice listed here. After all is said and done, with your brand new, well –described processes and a solid knowledge-base, you must make sure that everything is up to date.
Could your processes be more efficient? Are your solutions in your knowledge base still valid? What are the new trends and technologies in the market that could help you do better? You must be able to answer those questions, because having the ability to adapt and improve is crucial for a business.
As an extra tip, try to put yourself in the position or mindset of the end-user to help you understand what he may need, or what his issues are. This is sometimes not easy to do when you’re the person behind the tool your end-users are using, but it is a healthy exercise and one you should apply in our fifth advice above. Knowing what makes your end-users tick can help you identify where you need to improve.