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How to live without the IT stress

This article was originally published here on March 26, 2015.

It’s Monday morning and you are driving into work. It is probably early enough to beat traffic, a big coffee sits in the cup holder, and you’re listening to the radio. You are half-awake and in an almost Zen state as you roll past the miles. You were out on Thursday and Friday at a family wedding and feeling relaxed.

As you enter the office, your teeth unconsciously clenched. You brace yourself for the mild-state of anxiety, a slight bit of chaos, and the dull hum of demanding internal customers. Starting to sound familiar?

Firefighting and preventing issues

It’s not that your customers are wrong. It isn’t even that they are overly demanding. It is the constant state of defense that frustrates you. The service isn’t bad; it is ok. When things are working, nobody notices. When things go down, it becomes a firefight. People who would be perfectly polite, people that you would have lunch with, turn into raging zombies.

It isn’t really about not knowing how to fix things. Your team is competent. You maintain everything and you run pretty efficiently. Your team is just really busy and spends a lot of time fighting fires. Ideally, you would like to have everything in order and focus on preventing issues.

Better yet, you would like to be proactively improving things to become the hero of the organization. “Yes, you need that information; here it is. Better yet, here it is with additional insights already packaged.”

Silently saying to yourself, “Yeah, I know we’re rockstars, thank you very much.”

Identifying issues that matter

But, it’s Monday morning after being out for a couple of days and that fantasy is as cold as the second cup of coffee you poured two hours ago when you walked in the door to a quasi-state of endless demands.

It isn’t like you aren’t making improvements to the organization and processes. Last week, your team implemented a new procedure to help alleviate one of the fire drills. Some of that will help, but not as much as you would like.

If you identify the biggest issues, they probably look like this:

  • We need a current listing of every IT asset and a visual of how the IT asset is related to or dependent upon any other IT asset.
  • We need to close tickets faster.
  • We need a better way of getting control of other groups who keep making changes without telling us.
  • We need a way to easily give our people the right information faster rather than having them spend a lot of our troubleshooting time researching stuff because we don’t have it organized easily.
  • We do a pretty good job on processes though I think that we could be doing better, but I don’t have the bandwidth to dig into the information to figure out what little things hurt our performance.
  • We do a good job of back-ups, routine maintenance, security, and servicing our users. We are a little behind on our patches, some of our documentation is not current . If we lose power to a facility, we can recover. It may take a moment, but nothing too earth-shattering, and we can recover at our other sites pretty quickly.

What do my users think?

  • They want faster response times.
  • They don’t like it when their servers go down.
  • They don’t like the time it takes to troubleshoot problems.
  • It takes too much time to get information on new requests.

If asked, you would say — I know because I have said those exact same things.

Staying afloat and together

I don’t think we are any different from most other IT organizations out there. Yes, some run better than ours, but they have more resources.

They also get newer equipment upgrades on a more regular basis. My guys are wonderful at keeping this ship together no matter what.

  • But, you’re telling me that I can fix all this without a lot of investment and it can be much better and less stressful?
  • Sure, there are things that we could do to improve. But I need resources to implement them and my boss isn’t going to approve outside resources.
  • Ok, so you say that I don’t need outside resources, just the right sequence of help? Got it. Where do I start?

Here’s where to start.

  • Automated IT asset discovery to build a fully characterized inventory. Get a full and comprehensive picture of your assets, how they are connected, and how the applications are related.
  • Full, turn-key inventory baseline. From there, use it to create a project to document and build services that will streamline your operations.
  • Full reporting for visibility into process breakdowns, identification of root cause issues. This eliminates finger pointing and provides a set of deeper KPIs to see holes in your operations.

Prove it. Show me how this would work. Let me see it, so I can feel comfortable this will help my environment. I will get the budget if I can demonstrate that it will help improve our service delivery, streamline our resources, prevent risks, and reduce the backlog of improvement projects we have queued up for our business customers.

Yes, I get that it isn’t a magic bullet and it will require us to change the way we do business to improve all aspects of our service delivery. I get that it requires the adoption of tools, processes and methodologies. But, if you can show me that this process increases our business efficiency, improves our effectiveness in proactively dealing with problems, and lets me savor that second cup of coffee, let’s get going!

Virima features can automatically discover and map your critical IT resources and the interconnections that link them to one another, your applications and services, and your users.

If you’d like to publish us in your publication, please reach out to us at info@virima.com

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