If you have ever had the pleasure of managing the IT operations of an organisation you will know that it is largely a thankless job. In many cases you have inherited systems and staff, leaving you to make the best of what you have. Added to this are the pressures from the business to keep systems online 24×7 whilst each year complexity is increasing and budgets are squeezed. No wonder I went grey early. To be honest, I’m surprised I have any hair left at all!
On the flip side, the role of an IT operations manager can be very rewarding as long as you keep on top of your pain points.
The 6 major pain points that I experienced as an operations manager are:
1. Developing a Great Team of Skilled and Engaged People
When the A team is kicking goals the job feels simple. A very obvious point, however when the D team is involved you can expend much energy and time performance managing staff and vendors. Get on top of this area quickly. Building an A team takes time, so be patient and persistent.
2. Everyone’s Home Computer Performs Better than Their Work Computer
The perception that your user base has about their home PC versus the performance of their work PC is often interpreted as noise by IT professionals. However, this perception erodes your team’s reputation within the business. My advice is to listen closely for these complaints. Many times you will hear these conversations at the water cooler instead of through formal channels. Take advantage of ABW to get close to your users, or leverage floor walkers to keep your ear close to the ground so you can nip problems in the bud early.
3. Everyone is an Expert
Most people these days have a good appreciation of technology and how it can assist them domestically and professionally. The IT operations manager is now bombarded with advice from all angles. The answer: You need to roadmap your technologies and have a well-constructed IT strategy that is in-line with the business direction. That’s the fun part! This provides you with the clarity and vision to move forward. Executing this plan is key and this is where a trusted business partner can help you succeed.
4. Doing More with Less
All organisations are under pressure to reduce costs – and the IT budget is an obvious target. IT managers are continually asked to find savings whilst delivering more to the business. There is only so much fat you can cut before you risk cutting through the muscle, however there are many solutions out there. Vendors and service providers are in-tune with this growing requirement of their customers and are continually coming up with new and innovative cost effective answers. Leverage their experience and save re-inventing the wheel. Your competitors are!
5. Creating an agile Infrastructure
This is really a balancing act of Governance vs Agility in that, governance tends to prevent an agile approach. Depending on your industry, this balance may be predetermined for you. For example, heavily regulated industries such as banking, have guidelines that need to be adhered to. However, crystal balling the next big thing in IT is difficult when IT is not your core business, so having an IT infrastructure strategy that is nimble is paramount. IT is embedded in the business fabric and having computing systems that can react to the ever changing business climate will ultimately provide the competitive edge that all businesses crave. One area that is quickly evolving is orchestration. A typical organisation consumes IT services from many different points, from multiple Cloud services through Datacentres to on-premises servers. Having the ability to provision services quickly and efficiently brings real value to the business.
6. Time Starved
The combination of email volumes, staff management, vendor duties and inter-departmental responsibilities leave the IT manager with little time to themselves to do some of the more important responsibilities demanded of their role, such as strategy and planning. Good time management and the ability to be assertive to the demands of the masses can help to some degree, however this is where a trusted business partner can add value, particularly if you can leverage on them to do much of the heavy lifting.
They are in contact with many different customers and vendors, so make sure to have a finger on the technology pulse. This places them in a position to feed into your planning sessions, saving you and your team time in researching, preparing business cases, running a proof of concept, etc. If you have a backlog of work and your existing staff are drowning, use your tech partner to temporarily augment your existing staff to get through this hump. At the end of the day your business is looking for an outcome.
There are definitely many challenges for an IT operations manager. It is a hard, yet rewarding gig if you stay on-top of the pain points. What are your company’s main pain points? Reach out and let’s have a discussion on how Starboard IT can help.