Six Keys to Scaling IT Operations Satheesh Kothakapu March 26, 2021

Six Keys to Scaling IT Operations

Six Keys To Scaling IT Operations

Chris Howard, Chief of Research, Gartner, was quoted as saying, “IT leaders have learned many valuable lessons in the past year, from how to quickly move entire organizations to remote workforces, how to create a secure work environment, and how to prioritize digital initiatives like never before. For the CIO and the whole IT organization, 2021 brings with it the imperative to generate more business value using innovative technologies and approaches to information.”

However, for many organizations, the path to infrastructure and operations transformation was strewn with challenges.

A research project from Juniper Networks revealed,

Network security was an ever-present and growing headache for IT teams, with 97% of the respondents saying they had been obliged to spend money on breach mitigation in the past 12 months

Moreover, the study revealed that network performance issues, problems in upgrading the entire network, and the grind of routine infrastructure maintenance acted as inhibitors to scaling IT.

With the fear of change and the existence of lock-in agreements with current IT service providers being other obstacles to growth, many organizations failed to innovate and scale their IT operations.

In the new normal, IT modernization can help organizations effectively engage, establish trust, and build loyalty across the customer base. Moreover, the newer ways of working can contribute positively to cost-cutting, operational effectiveness, and organizational growth. Therefore, in the post-covid world, IT can no longer be perceived as a back-office cost center. Instead, agile delivery, resilience, and cost optimization will become the most critical pillars of IT.

In this blog, we’ll look at the six keys to scaling your IT operations, the pitfalls to avoid, and the suggested actions needed to transform your IT infrastructure successfully.

6 keys to scaling your IT Operations

1. Re-envision IT Operations as more than “break-fix.”

A break-fix model is a reactive approach to maintaining the IT infrastructure that provides and bills IT services on an as-needed basis. In simple words, the organization seeks the services of external engineers only when a component, service, or application fails or the in-house IT team is unable to diagnose the problem.

Today’s IT environment is a complex mix of legacy and modern services, including physical, containerized, virtual, multi-cloud, and serverless infrastructure. As complexity increases, the break-fix model is no longer feasible, and IT leaders are opting to partner with Managed Service Providers (MSPs). MSPs play a proactive role in monitoring the health and performance of IT systems to prevent costly network downtime. They monitor the devices and apps remotely and respond instantly if they come across an issue.

An MSP model is better than break-fix due to various reasons, which are as follows –

  • An MSP provides services at a fixed monthly cost, and the parties can clearly specify the requirements and expectations in the SLA.
  • MSPs are obligated to fix your issue within a guaranteed time period, as specified in the SLA, unlike break-fix vendors who may respond to your call only when they have the bandwidth to do so.
  • In contrast to a break-fix model, an MSP actively monitors the systems and resolves the issue, sometimes even before their client becomes aware of the problem.
  • Contrary to a break-fix vendor, an MSP invests in maintaining and upgrading your IT infrastructure.

2. Start with a candid assessment

Before you begin scaling your IT operations, it is prudent to conduct a candid assessment of the current position. CIOs must strike a delicate balance between adopting the right technologies and keeping the IT budget in check. Below are a few IT assessment questions they can ask –

  • How do my IT investments align with my business outcomes?
  • Are any systems causing significant operational efficiencies?
  • What are the process gaps, IT risks, and areas of improvement?
  • What is the current IT budget allocation under three major areas – run, grow, and transform?
  • How does the top management perceive the role of IT?
  • Are employees being sufficiently educated and trained about safe cybersecurity practices and IT operations?

3. Develop a strategy

Post conducting a detailed study of the current status of IT, the next key step is to develop an appropriate IT modernization strategy and define the end-to-end path that moves in line with the current and future business objectives.

As Gartner analyst Paul Proctor said, A lot of organizations are just concerned about survival at this point. I am talking to clients who have seen 100% loss of revenue. But even in the current situation, CIOs “need to have some eye on the future” to align networks, systems, and applications with post-pandemic enterprise demands in a cost-effective way.

Here’s a quick look at the IT modernization framework that CIOs can adopt –

  • Begin by defining the core problem and understand the challenges and areas of opportunity.
  • Plan to invest in technologies that improve the security and resiliency of the infrastructure while simultaneously overlooking the IT budget distribution between run, growth, and transformation initiatives.
  • Develop your people and processes to support the new ways of working – strategize to overcome resistance and plan for effective communication and training.
  • Measure critical metrics, such as profitability, cost-savings, time-to-market, and CSAT, to ensure IT operations positively impact business value.
  • Establish a culture of continuous improvement through ongoing feedback from end-users of the technology.

4. Envision change scenarios

While it’s crucial to consider the risk-return ratios and plan the business outcomes that scaling ITOps must achieve, perhaps, what’s most important is an organization’s ability and willingness to adapt to the change.

Hence, change management in IT must be an integral part of the culture and enable people to accept and adapt to the new environment effectively – without any resistance and backlash on productivity.

Below, we list down a few best practices for organizational change management while scaling your IT operations –

  • Change management efforts must focus on all the stakeholders – delivery teams, business units, IT groups, and anyone who helps execute the change.
  • Change management is not only about training and communications. Stakeholder analysis, policy development, and workforce impact are all vital components of change.
  • Change management must go beyond the lifecycle of the delivery – from initial planning to even post-implementation efforts.

5. Leverage advanced automation tools such as AI

Given the sudden spike in digital activities and the highly complex nature of today’s IT infrastructure, IT leaders must realize that the failure of even a minor network component can cripple entire business operations. Moreover, hundreds of apps and databases operate in silos. The generation of an overwhelming amount of logs and alerts for the smallest issues, like slow WiFi, makes it challenging to isolate and fix the root cause.

That’s where AIOps comes to the rescue. AIOps combines machine learning and data science techniques to monitor your digital services, predict service outages (predictive analytics), break down operational silos, and diagnose and resolve issues in real-time.

Moreover, it automates various IT operations – updating logs, audits, and tickets, resetting passwords, and fixing recurring issues. Additionally, using chatbots and virtual assistants, AIOps accelerates service desk automation and allows end-users to resolve routine IT issues independently. Consequently, productivity isn’t hampered, and the experienced IT staff can focus on high-value activities.

Secondly, AI-driven Azure cost optimization (ACO) services maximize cloud cost savings through automated server sizing, server provisioning, application performance monitoring, infrastructure optimization, and configuration management.

6. Implement a governance structure

An IT governance structure defines how organizations can improve the overall management of IT modernization endeavors to derive increased value from IT investments.

An IT governance framework lays down the principles and rules of effective decision-making and ensures IT activities are aligned with the broader business strategy and goals. Therefore, IT leaders must consider the company board’s plan and propose new IT services taking those needs into account.

Elements of an IT governance framework include –

  • Define the ‘what’ – What are the business-critical IT processes to achieve the objectives from scaling activities? How can IT ensure business continuity/recovery?
  • Define the ‘who’ – Who will lay down the structural organizations, take decisions, and assume responsibility for the same?
  • Define the ‘how’ – How will the IT investment decisions be made, reviewed, approved, and prioritized?
  • Monitoring and communication – How will results be monitored, measured, and communicated to the stakeholders, including the board of directors, the top management, employees, and shareholders?

How can Acuvate help?

For organizations that need to upgrade to today’s digital technologies to gain a competitive edge, Acuvate provides IT services that use Microsoft and AI technology.

Unlike traditional IT consulting organizations, Acuvate leverages world-class AI expertise and packaged AI accelerators in order to deliver unparalleled efficiency and time to value.

Our services include –

  • Proactive IT management – security and access management, virtual machine management, backup and disaster recovery, etc.
  • DevOps support – Performance monitoring, continuous integration, and delivery
  • IT Help Desk – Microsoft 365 support, Azure support, incident reporting, and server and application monitoring
  • IT service automation and self-service – chatbot support, RPA, custom AI apps, and natural language UX

To know more about our managed IT services, please feel free to schedule a personalized consultation with our experts