IT is a tough job no matter where you work. It is especially tough in SMBs which don’t have the staggering budgets and massive and highly specialized staffs of their larger enterprise brethren.
SMB IT pros end up wearing so many hats they can barely walk through the door.
Fortunately, these IT professionals are getting better all the time at their jobs; have better and better tools to manage resources; and often have defined goals as to how to improve operations. As they say, if you know where you want to go, it is easier to get there.
Kaseya has been tracking IT progress with our annual survey and finding steady if not quite staggering improvement in how the business of IT is conducted.
While IT continues to strive to perform at a higher level, they are saddled with myriad unending tasks. The way one deals with these tasks demonstrates how advanced your shop may or may not be.
Here are some of the tasks that just won’t go away:
- Maintain existing infrastructure
- Perform upgrades and expansion when necessary
- Sustain high levels of service availability and aid current users
- Provide technology advice and support for new business requirements
- Configure and manage new applications
- Train new users
- Manage cloud applications
- Liaise with technology partners and supplier
- Maintain high levels of security; and much more.
IT Management Maturity Model and IT Progress
One way to discover your how advanced your IT shop is by measuring its maturity. Unfortunately most IT Maturity Models are aimed at large enterprises, and don’t work so well for SMBs.
In response, Kaseya developed our IT Management Maturity Model, and we survey SMB IT pros annually to see how they rank relative to the model. I think the best definition of IT Management Maturity was set out in the 2016 Kaseya IT Operations Benchmark Survey report: “Maturity Levels simply measure how well the IT management function supports the IT needs of your business ― from systems and service readiness, to technology choices (e.g., cloud services), to responsiveness and strategic alignment and business enablement. Progressing through the maturity model leads to a more capable IT organization, one that’s better equipped to accomplish its mission and goals and to help drive business success.”
The model has five levels:
- REACTIVE: Responding to individual user challenges and requests
- EFFICIENT: Having a systematic approach to solving known issues and dealing with daily tasks
- PROACTIVE: Taking a proactive approach to IT management, automating repetitive tasks and many remedial actions
- ALIGNED: Tracking and managing against service level agreements (SLAs) or availability/performance expectations
- STRATEGIC: Achieving IT operational excellence and taking a strategic role in driving business innovation
For detail, you can download our eBook Benchmarking Your IT Management Maturity.
IT Ops Gaining Experience, Building Maturity
There is a close correlation between an IT department’s maturity and its effectiveness. The good news is that IT is getting better at what they do, and steadily climbing the ladder to the top maturity rung.
There is also a correlation between company size and maturity level. Simply put, bigger really can be better. One piece of evidence is that mid-size companies tend to be in the lowest three levels of
In fact, 86% of IT respondents identify themselves as REACTIVE, EFFICIENT or PROACTIVE. The largest group (35.4%) is still at the REACTIVE stage. Instead of focusing on business value, these departments pay most attention to meeting daily internal IT challenges.
This doesn’t do the IT department any favors when it comes to being perceived. REACTIVE IT departments are seen as cost centers, and as such the business is largely interested in keeping IT costs in check – not exactly a progressive IT formula.
While 86% of those polled are within the three lowest levels, 14% have reached either the STRATEGIC or ALIGNED levels. While this is a minority of shops, it is a 3% increase from last year, and represents a great leap forward for those departments.
Maturity Means Higher Growth
When you think of the word maturity, you often think of old – and perhaps less vibrant. The opposite is true for IT. The more mature your department, the greater the level of innovation and the larger the IT contribution to growth. We have the data to prove it.
In fact, the higher the level of IT management maturity, the more those companies’ revenues grow. For companies who grew their revenue at greater than 10% between 2014 and 2015, 36% of their IT organizations were at the STRATEGIC/ALIGNED maturity levels.
This Kaseya chart shows more detail on growth and maturity:
Metrics Drive Growth and Maturity
All businesses do well by measuring their performance. In the case of IT, these measurements have everything to do with technology and service levels. Departments that do a good job with metrics tend to be more mature and better able to offer excellent service – often backed by serious SLAs.
We asked: Does the IT department have formal service level agreements covering the availability and performance of IT services?
The data shows that those shops using metrics for benchmarking and to insure better service optimization are at higher maturity levels.
Mean Time to Recover (MTTR) is another important metric. Almost half the companies at the STRATEGIC/ALIGNED levels measure MTTR. This measurement is an indication of how prepared your staff is for a problem, and what processes and tools are in place to resolve it. On the tools side, automation can dramatically improve MTTR, among other benefits.
Maturity through Automation
IT grew up being used to doing everything manually. But our systems have outgrown that in terms of numbers and complexity. Nowadays each individual likely has several intelligent devices they use for work – PC, tablet, smartphone, etc.
The best way to keep these devices updated and running, not to mention all your servers, is IT automation. Consider automating as many IT functions as possible. Policy-based automation improves staff efficiency. Discovery, audit, software deployments (including third party software), patches, antivirus updates, backup, and more, can all be automated based on defined policies that make sense for your company and your IT organization.
Look for solutions that go beyond simple remediation to make sure that SOPs and policies are routinely enforced; remediations and all access and alterations are recorded; and that reports and dashboards are up-to-date and real time.
Kaseya is empowering IT groups worldwide simply manage and secure their complete IT environments. Visit Kaseya.com today to find out how we can help you simplify IT management, free up time, and get more done in IT.
And for more details on where IT stands today, download our “Kaseya IT Operations Benchmark Survey 2016.”