ITOps: Best practices to improve performance and service quality

ITOps best practicesThere’s no doubt about it. Intelligent automation is the biggest driver for increasing the overall performance of ITOps and service quality for businesses today. It allows IT management and personnel to streamline their workflows by automating the time consuming day to day tasks that bog them down, allowing technology to do the heavy lifting so they can focus on more important business-critical issues.

Intelligent automation can be applied to almost any pain point your organization may face, from frequent password resets to service restarts to disk space cleanups and much, much more. The key is to begin with a few small things so that the value can be easily identified and then work up to include more complex projects and workflows to utilize automation to its fullest potential.

Best Practices for Systems and IT Operations Managers:

As with anything else in business, there are certain “best practices” that have been established and should be implemented to achieve optimum results with automation. Here is a brief list of guidelines for system and ITOps managers to follow:

  • Pick one or two pain points with value. What simple processes or small tasks are important to your organization but are bogging your team down? Pick points that you can quickly and easily measure the value of once you’re up and running.
  • Once you’ve got your list of pain points, it’s time to sell the value of your automation project to the key decision makers within the organization. Go over the benefits in detail and be prepared to counter any objections and show evidence of projected ROI (try our free ROI calculator). The more prepared you are ahead of time, the better your chances of winning over the “powers that be”.
  • Carefully evaluate available intelligent automation tools to help you choose the right product and then learn as much as you can about the one you choose so that you can truly convey the benefits that it will have for your business operations.
  • Foster IT automation skills within your team. Make it clear to IT personnel that automation isn’t something to fear. That it’s not there to eliminate their jobs, but rather to make them more efficient and productive, and to provide the opportunity to enhance their skills, become more marketable and achieve more growth in their careers.
  • Encourage communication between IT teams and business people. Devops and automation go hand in hand, with the shared goal of bridging the gap between IT personnel and those on the operational end of the technology. For optimum results, a solid relationship built on trust and open communication should be developed and fostered.
  • Develop key performance indicators and measure results. Once you’re up and running with automation, it’s critical that progress is continuously monitored, measured, analyzed and modified accordingly. Develop a list of which performance indicators are most important to your organization and then measure regularly to ensure optimum results.

In summary, organizations that follow these practices will not only increase agility and reliability, but they will also have a more productive, happier staff. ITOps teams that know how to utilize these tools will have more opportunities for growth, both within the workplace and beyond, as demand for these skills continues to grow.

In the end, it’s a triple win: employees, your business and your customers all benefit in multiple ways through automation. So, the question then becomes not “should you automate”, but rather, “why haven’t you started yet?”

eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate

The 7 Secrets of Effective Digital Transformation

If you’ve ever read the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, you’re familiar with the concept of “beginning with the end in mind.” Putting that into context in terms of digital transformation means organizations must determine what their goals are before they begin adopting a ton of shiny new technologies. Unfortunately, many otherwise intelligent business leaders make the mistake of focusing so much on technological innovation that they miss the mark altogether.

This is not to say that technology isn’t a key driver of digital transformation. The problem often lies in a misunderstanding of what digital transformation actually is. According to a recent report by Altimeter, despite the fact that a growing number of enterprises are investing in innovative technologies, the majority of them are still lacking in terms of meeting customer expectations due in large part to a lack of digital literacy. The report also concludes that the main obstacles to achieving the solidarity and collaboration necessary for true, effective and lasting digital change are ego, politics and fear.

When an organization begins with a tech-first approach, it risks missing the point about what digital transformation is truly all about. In many instances, company leaders – CIOs in particular – fall into the trap of attempting to build new technology atop an old and crumbling legacy foundation. There’s an erroneous belief that all it takes to keep up with disruption is continuously adopting the latest and greatest apps and programs. New tech is great, but it must be adopted as a component of the digital transformation process, rather than its fundamental basis.

To demystify the whole digital transformation concept and improve your chances of success, here are a few expert tips to keep in mind.

The human element should be front and center.

Yes, the term is “digital” transformation, but in reality, it’s more about human transformation than anything else. That’s really what’s at the heart of any successful change. Technology is essential, yes, but it’s equally, if not more important that your people are all on the same page and moving together at the right speed. One of the biggest challenges to transforming a business is bringing its workforce up to speed, in particular, getting them current with the skills needed to facilitate change.

Experts unilaterally agree that the key to achieving true digital transformation is having a team of individuals who are curious, motivated by and passionate about the mission. Only then can you successfully usher in the innovative technologies you need to move forward.

A great example of this is Pitney Bowes. Several years ago, the company began initiating a shift to align itself with the changing world of tech. Specifically, they focused on evolving in 10 key areas such as machine learning, analytics, mobile, SaaS and APIs. But while leadership recognized the critical need for a strong technical strategy, they also prioritized the development and implementation of a solid people strategy as well.

The company organized curriculum for each of the 10 key areas of disruption and every one of the 1,200 employees was tasked with immersing themselves in one of those 10 topic areas for a period of one full year. The results have been beneficial to both sides – the company, by enhancing its workforce, and the employees, who have enriched their skills and improved their personal value proposition. Additionally, with staffers becoming subject matter experts in their chosen topics and subsequently collaborating together, many new and valuable relationships have been forged. This is advantageous to everyone involved.

Take the time to really understand your customers.

Ask any business leader what they believe the biggest driver of digital transformation is and they’ll probably cite the evolving behaviors and preferences of their clientele. Yet, according to the Altimeter report, a remarkable few (less than half) actually bother to truly understand their digital customers.

The few that are actually getting it right have done so by taking an outside-in approach. In other words, they take the time to determine what’s missing or broken that can solve a need and then focus their efforts on doing just that, tying in key performance indicators (KPIs) and ROI to demonstrate success. Rather than looking at internal processes, these innovators examine the customer experience first to identify opportunities to add value.

The key takeaway? If you aren’t meeting what your customers want or need, your efforts to achieve digital transformation will inevitably fall short and you will risk being left behind. The best technology, the best policies and procedures, the best laid plans – none of that will matter if the end result doesn’t make the lives of your clientele easier. That’s the end result that should be your focus from day one.

Establish new teams.

Spearheading digital transformation shouldn’t be a side project. If you want it done right, you need to have a team of individuals who are 100% dedicated to the cause. Teams should be made up of various people with different strengths and diverse backgrounds. For instance, you might have a project manager, a lead developer and someone who is focused on the customer experience. You could then supplement this with members from other roles, such as QA, development, ops and finance.

When an idea for a new initiative arises, the team’s job should be bringing it to fruition – at least to some degree – as quickly as possible. It’s not about achieving perfection right away. Digital transformation involves evolution, which means your team should be ready to go through a cycle of development – try things out, assess how they work and then adapt and improve accordingly. This agile methodology may require a paradigm shift, which is why it’s so important to have a dedicated team.

Cultivate collaboration as you deploy technology.

As mentioned, digital transformation isn’t entirely about technology. Yes, technology is a critical component, but it takes people to really achieve successful change, and that requires ongoing collaboration. Trailblazing ideas, sharing best practices, building a community – these things drive innovation and continuous improvement.

Use Pitney Bowes as an example once again. While they were designing their curricula around their 10 targeted technology areas, leadership also hosted global innovation roundtables to enhance collaboration efforts. As a result, they were able to identify cases in which there were common problems with their integration, delivery and operational practices. This enabled a fast and effective resolution across the board. Furthermore, because of the improved collaboration, workers acknowledged feeling much more engaged, as opposed to being just another “cog in the wheel.”

Don’t give in to the resistance.

It’s human nature to fear change, and that fear often manifests itself as resistance amongst workers. Logically speaking, the larger the enterprise, the greater the push back is likely to be. If you want to successfully shift to a digital ecosystem, you simply cannot let the naysayers get you down.

That’s not to say you should steamroll over them and ignore their concern. It’s more about your approach. Over communication and clear articulation, not just about what is happening, but how and most importantly, why, is key. It’s also important to develop a group of early adopters and innovators – those who embrace the proposed changes, as they can become your champions.

At the end of the day, digital transformation is really about people transformation.

Think like a startup.

As organizations become larger, greater divides between various groups and departments begin to occur. This results in silos of information, which can hinder communication and the ability to collaborate effectively.

To avoid this, try to adopt more of a startup mentality – one that focuses on operating nimbly and making sure that projects are being carried out in the correct way. Be cognizant of any walls and barriers that exist and focus on eliminating those and encouraging unilateral communication across the board. Encourage teams, departments and divisions to work closely together with a goal of making strategic decisions more quickly and rolling out smaller changes faster.

Take a bottoms up approach.

According to the aforementioned Altimeter survey, only 40% of the companies polled say their digital transformation initiative is overseen by an executive-mandated steering committee. Getting buy-in from the C-suite is certainly important, but how you go about doing so can make all the difference in the world.

Many organizations have had tremendous success by flipping the typical top-down narrative to more of a bottoms up approach. In other words, they focus on obtaining buy-in from all levels of hierarchy within, bringing together a diverse group of workers to collaborate together to create a digital transformation strategy.

This provides the opportunity to go through checks and balances to determine what makes the most sense and is directionally appropriate. Only when every ‘I’ is dotted and every ‘T’ crossed is the strategy presented to the C-suite for approval.

Conclusion

Is technology an important part of digital transformation? Of course. But if that’s all you’re focused on, you will inevitably come up short. Instead, focus on the people and policies that matter most, get all your ducks in a row and start with the end in mind. Do so and your organization can be counted among the success stories.

Free eBook! Get Your Own Copy Today

5 Tips for Managing the Changes of Digital Transformation

Today’s business leaders are focused on digital transformation. What they often fail to consider is how much transformations like these alter the very essence of their organization. In some instances, a company might modify its entire business offering after going through a successful transformation. This may require a complete realignment of how you approach the market, how you use technology, how you engage your customers and how your employees see their roles as well as the business as a whole.

At the end of the day, change is about speed. It’s about competitiveness. It’s about innovation. To be successful in today’s digital environment, organizations must be agile and ever-evolving. The problem is, change isn’t always easy – especially when it comes to people. Getting your employees on board requires strong, deliberate leadership. This is where change management comes into play. To follow are five truths that change leaders must embrace in order to be successful.

Start with a vision.

You cannot drive change unless and until you have a clear and accurate picture of what you’re trying to achieve. When you develop a vision of the end-state, it becomes easier to understand the ‘why’ of what you’re doing, and when you can get others to appreciate this ‘why,’ you’ll get buy-in. Just be careful not to be too rigid with your vision. Make sure you leave room for adjustments along the way. 

Involve the stakeholders.

Remember, change management is really about people, and these people will either resist or embrace the proposed changes. To mitigate detractors and maximize drivers, identify who will be most affected by the changes you are proposing and then get them involved in the process as early as possible. If you can make them feel a sense of control over what’s happening, they’re more likely to become advocates for your cause.

Listen.

The nature of digital transformation is that it is fluid. You will inevitably reach points at which you must pivot in order to progress. There may also be a number of tradeoffs or roadblocks you haven’t yet considered. Listening to those most closely affected can provide insight as to what courses may need to be corrected. Additionally, giving people a voice can help get them on board. Invite people to share their questions, concerns and feedback.

Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Having a clear vision of your digital transformation won’t do much good unless you share that vision with everyone else. Being honest, forthcoming and transparent right from the start can do wonders for overcoming employees’ fear of change. Use as many tools as are available to you, from email and newsletters to intranet sites, videoconferencing, town halls and more. Do everything you can to instill that vision in your employees.

Learn as you go.

The fifth rule for change leaders is to recognize that as you push forward toward your goal, new and unexpected challenges can and will arise. Your success in achieving digital transformation will depend largely on your ability to adjust to those challenges. Be prepared to regularly reevaluate to make sure you’re still on the right track and course-correct as needed. Being agile is what will ultimately get you to your end game.

Of course, having the right tools in your corner can also help make managing change easier. Ayehu supports digital transformation through seamless integrations, rapid adoption and even faster time-to-value. Click here to take Ayehu for a test drive for 30 days.  

eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate

4 steps to minimize MTTR

Any seasoned IT professional will tell you that one of the biggest challenges they face in their day to day job is reducing mean time to resolution (MTTR), or the amount of time it takes to get key systems back up and running after an incident. Down time in any industry can have a significant impact on both internal operations and external service levels. And the longer it takes to get things resolved, the worse the problems can become. Intelligent automation can make minimizing MTTR even easier and more effective.

Managing mean time to resolution involves 4 main steps:

  • Identifying the problem
  • Uncovering the root cause of the problem
  • Correcting the problem
  • Testing to verify that the problem as successfully been resolved

How quickly you can achieve the first step will ultimately depend on the quality of the monitoring system you have in place. Having a basic system can only get you so far and leaves a lot of room for costly error. Depending on how many incoming alerts your organization fields, staying on top of them can be too much for a small IT department. That means serious issues could slip through the cracks and cause major problems down the road. Enhancing your system with intelligent automation can create a highly effective, closed-loop solution, ensuring that all critical incidents requiring attention are prioritized and addressed accordingly.

Once an incident is identified, the next step is determining its root cause. This is the costliest part of the MTTR equation because it takes time, resources and manpower. Obviously, the more serious the issue, the more quickly it needs to be addressed. It may require “all hands on deck” to help uncover the cause so it can be corrected. It’s also important to maintain visibility and accountability at all times throughout the process. Who is handling the problem? What steps have been taken so far to get to the bottom of it? Has anything been missed? Again, automation can address this by providing real-time status of incidents, ownership, severity and priority in one central dashboard.

As soon as the problem has been properly diagnosed, the third step is taking the necessary actions to resolve it as quickly and effectively as possible. With most incidents, time is of the essence, so developing a solution is critical. One of the biggest benefits of integrating intelligent automation into your incident management process is that it can actually predict MTTR based on historic events. This can provide a guideline for the resolution process and alleviate some of the stress that naturally arises during a downtime. The IT team will be able to work quickly and efficiently to implement a solution that will get systems back up and running fast, limiting the negative effects on the company.

The final step in the MTTR process is testing to ensure that the problem is, indeed, resolved. It’s also important to assess each process to identify areas that can be improved. Being proactive and leveraging artificial intelligence can help to determine the best way to deal with similar incidents and can even help to avoid them completely.

In conclusion, managing the mean time to resolution process involves careful monitoring and the right tools, specifically intelligent automation. This can provide the most timely and effective response and a faster overall turnaround, thereby reducing or even eliminating impact on the business.

If your current incident response strategy isn’t producing these results or you’d like to learn more about how IA can dramatically reduce your MTTR, take Ayehu for a test drive or download a free 30 day trial.

Free eBook! Get Your Own Copy Today

Want Big Improvements in ITSM? Start Small.

Have you ever faced a challenge so big that you didn’t know where to begin, so you simply did nothing? It’s happened to the best of us, and it happens far too often in the world of ITSM. In many cases, IT decision makers know improvements must be made, but the looming costs and risks have them circling their wagons, afraid to take that leap and get started. If you are in this situation currently, the solution is simple: get back to basics. Rather than taking on huge, risky and expensive ITSM projects, start where you are and take it one step at a time. By starting small, you’ll eventually achieve the big change you seek.

As an example, let’s take a larger ITSM organization that provides support service to external clients across the globe. An operation like this has a ton of service desks, some of which support multiple customers, others are dedicated to individual customers and still others are designated for internal users. Some service desks provide only logging and dispatch while others also offer level 1 support. Across all of these service desks, there are a wide variety of tools and technologies being employed.

In this scenario, the vast majority of communication with customers, for all the service desks, takes place via telephone. Decision-makers within the organization recognize the need for more efficient communication channels (i.e. self-service portals and chatbots). The problem is, in a company that large, the costs of implementation would be tremendous. IT leaders have actually already identified a tool capable of supporting such a complex environment, but because they lack confidence and adequate justification that the project would run smoothly and produce ROI, they can’t nail down funding.

Believe it or not, the solution to this monster of a dilemma is actually quite obvious. Rather than attempting to roll out chat for their entire user base – a significant and costly undertaking – all they really need to do is begin where they are and implement in several smaller steps.

For instance, IT could introduce an easy-to-use, out-of-the-box chatbot platform and designate a small group of users to begin using this tool when they need IT support. IT would then closely monitor the process to identify any issues – either on the service desk or end user side – and work to resolve those issues before scaling up. Over time, the IT team will have:

  • Pinpointed and addressed many issues as they relate to chat-based interactions with the service desk
  • Identified which types of requests are best suited for chat and which are better handled via other channels
  • Figured out how to best encourage users to transition from telephone support to chat
  • Gathered and analyzed data regarding the volume of requests each agent can manage using chat
  • Determined exactly how much time and money could be saved if scaled to the entire organization

Rolling out chatbot support this way is far less risky, and by starting with a tool that is easy to use and doesn’t require coding and/or a ton of training, the overall cost of implementation also remains low. As the project is slowly scaled up, the IT team will have all the information they need to determine whether full implementation would be a cost-effective investment with quantifiable proof to back them up. They’ll also already know what needs to be done in order to ensure success as the project expands.

The good news is, starting small is easy when you have the right tool in your corner. Ayehu is specifically designed to provide rapid time-to-adoption and enhanced simplicity to even the most complex ITSM projects. Don’t believe us? Try it free for 30 days and experience it for yourself. You have nothing to lose!

5 Ways to level up your service desk using it process automation

Intelligent Automation Solutions – 7 Questions to Ask

When it comes to IT operations, there’s no question that it is crucial for organizations to increase their efficiency. In fact, with the ever-growing complexity, service levels and performance, greater operational efficiency becomes not just an option, but a competitive necessity. Intelligent automation solutions can help your IT operations become more efficient, thereby improving your organization’s bottom line.

That being said, not every automation tool is the same. And with so many to choose from, the selection process can be confusing and downright overwhelming. Here are seven important questions that should help you make a more informed decision.

1. What are the integration points? Before choosing your intelligent automation solution, you should first verify that it will have touch points and triggers that integrate with your data center systems, including different OS, legacy systems, integration with help desk such as ServiceNow, monitoring and management systems, etc. The more integrated the better.

2. What should be expected in terms of deployment effort? Evaluate how much time and effort will be required for deployment (setup, configuration, implementation, etc.). You want to make sure that the time-frame proposed works with your organizational needs. Also, set expectations so that everyone is on the same page throughout the process and there are no unexpected surprises.

3. What is the required skill set for this particular platform? Part of the implementation process involves training and adapting to the new system. Before moving forward, you should understand what the estimated learning curve will be for generating automated workflows independently. You’ll also want to determine ahead of time if any scripting will be required. (Tip: Look for a solution that does not require coding or programming required. This enables rapid adoption and time-to-value.)

4. Does this product feature out-of-the-box functionality? Some intelligent automation solutions provide ‘pre-canned’ templates for various commonly performed tasks. If the platform you are considering offers this, the next step is to determine whether these generic templates can easily be tailored to fit your unique business environment and processes. Templates are a great place to start, but the more customizable, the better.

5. What level of human intervention is available? Even the simplest automated processes will require some type of human decision at some point during the process. The question to ask is whether you will be able to embed decision-making logic into workflows for remote decisions on process execution. This allows management to maintain control over the process from start to finish.

6. What kind of scheduling functionality does it offer? While some automated processes will be triggered by system events, others, such as repetitive tasks, will need to be scheduled. You’ll want to make sure the automation platform you select provides for full scheduling capability.

7. Does it take into account regulatory compliance? Meeting regulatory compliance requirements is a critical part of every organization’s success. When evaluating an intelligent automation solution, be sure to find out whether it can help you with these initiatives. For instance, does the tool provide tracking of events, reports and knowledge management that will help the organization comply with regulations?

These are the seven most important things to consider when evaluating automation for your organization. By asking these key questions and understanding what to look for, you will have a much better chance of selecting an intelligent automation solution that will be a perfect fit for your business and ensure project success.

eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate

How to Build an AI Team

Once viewed as a technology of the distant future, AI is quickly becoming an integral component of many an IT/business strategy. The rapid advancement of data science and machine learning technology, combined with the accessibility and affordability of artificial intelligence platforms in the cloud, are enabling companies in every industry to uncover new ways to extract business value from data. But in order to fully capitalize on AI, an organization must first assemble a strong team. Let’s take a look at three steps for creating such a team in your business.

Learn what successful AI looks like.

When establishing a department dedicated to AI, it’s important to recognize that successful artificial intelligence initiatives require a variety of different roles and skillsets. If you are focused solely on one role – data scientist for example – you will almost assuredly come up short. Instead, take a more well-rounded approach paying particular attention to three distinct areas: a person (or people) who can generate data, a person (or people) who can interpret that data, and a person (or people) who can make judgments about that data.

Recruit/train (and retain) top talent.

It’s no secret that skilled AI professionals are in high demand. In order to develop a good AI team, recruitment and retention are key. The good news is, you don’t necessarily have to look outside of your company to do so. In fact, developing AI talent from internal staff can be just as, if not more effective – particularly given the talent shortage. Investing in training and upskilling can produce a higher return on your investment than external recruiting.

And remember, it’s not just about assembling a team. You also need to focus on keeping turnover at bay. Offering things like professional development and autonomy can make long-term employment with you more attractive.

Tap freelancers.

What if your company simply isn’t prepared or doesn’t have the budget to hire a Ph.D. in computer science? What if your existing staff is too small, doesn’t have the potential or lacks the bandwidth to recruit internally? There are still other ways to get started with AI. Some organizations have had tremendous success hiring artificial intelligence specialists via online talent marketplaces, like Upwork. By eliminating the need to hire in-house, and all the ancillary expenses that come with such an arrangement, you can tap into global AI talent at an affordable price.

With Gartner forecasting that 85% of CIOs will be piloting AI projects by the year 2020, it’s abundantly clear that artificial intelligence is the way of the future. Having a team of skilled individuals dedicated to your AI initiatives can help you maximize the long-term benefits and give your organization the competitive advantage it needs to thrive in the digital era.

Ready to get started with AI but not sure how? For a limited time, we’re offering a free trial of Ayehu’s Next Generation Intelligent Automation platform. Use the full product for 30 days and don’t pay a penny. Get yours before it’s too late!

Free eBook! Get Your Own Copy Today

Planning a Chatbot Strategy? Here’s What NOT to Do

When it comes to utilizing chatbots, there are plenty of resources out there to tell you what you should do, our own blog included. But as with anything in business, it’s just as important to know what not to do as it is to know best practices. By learning from the many common mistakes made by others, you can hopefully avoid going down the same wrong paths with your own chatbot initiative. That said, let’s dive into a few of those common mistakes below.

Not Gauging Need

Chatbots are great, but only if you’re using them the right way and for the right purpose. Adopting this technology just for the sake of it isn’t going to produce sustainable ROI, if any at all. To be successful with chatbots, you must first identify what you are trying to accomplish and what the desired end results should be.

For instance, are you trying to automate a simple process or are you looking for something more sophisticated, interactive and that will learn and improve over time? This will help you choose the right platform and strategize a plan for implementation.

Focusing on a Single Use Case

One of the trickier things about chatbots is that they are capable of far more than many business leaders realize. Unlike other packaged software and SaaS products, which are typically designed to meet a specific business need, the more a chatbot system learns, the more use cases it can take on.

For example, as a Q & A bot answers questions from customers and/or employees, its company knowledge and language understanding grow. As a result, the same core technology can be trained and used for a variety of different instances, thereby multiplying its value. If you limit your approach to just one or two use cases, you also limit the potential return you can achieve.

Overlooking the Human Element

With so much emphasis on training chatbots, it’s easy to forget that your human users also need to be brought up to speed. According to recent data, 43% of people who haven’t used chatbots yet are merely unfamiliar with the technology. And these aren’t tech illiterates, either. 65% routinely use SMS and 61% Facebook Messenger. They simply haven’t been exposed to chatbots nor given adequate guidance for their use.

Furthermore, even users who are familiar and comfortable with chatbot technology may need a reminder that it’s available. For instance, if a user only interacts with the IT helpdesk two or three times a year, they could easily forget that self-service bots are at their disposal. This is another powerful reason for leveraging bots for multiple use cases.

And on the other side of the coin, it’s also important not to overlook the value of the human connection. A shift to 100% chatbot support, for example, could result in frustration and backlash from end-users. Ideally, a bot-human relay should be established through which escalation from machine to human occurs when necessary.

In Conclusion…

With investment into chatbot development expected to top $1.25 billion by 2025, it’s clear that this technology is here to stay. Realizing savings and other benefits from chatbots, however, requires the right training and implementation. Knowing what mistakes to avoid, such as the three key areas above, can prevent your organization from having to deal with costly consequences.

The good news? You can now implement intelligent chatbot technology without the need to code or program. Resolve common IT actions, manage HR tasks, handle incoming customer support inquiries and more – and all via the interface of your choice. Click here to try Ayehu free for 30 days.  

New Call-to-action

7 Time-Saving Tips for Busy IT Leaders

Without a doubt, the IT industry is one in which time is a precious commodity. It’s incredibly easy to become bogged down with the nitty gritty details and waste resources putting out fires to the point where other key areas of the organization begin to suffer. If optimizing your time is a priority for you (and/or your team), this article is for you. Read on to learn a few expert tips on how to find efficiencies, eliminate time-wasters and kick bad habits to the curb once and for all.

Tighten up your email practices.

Checking, sending and responding to emails is a huge time suck. But until it officially becomes a thing of the past, email is still something most IT folks will have to deal with. Optimizing your practices can make things more efficient. For instance, schedule specified time to manage email and use other communication methods, such as SMS, for urgent requests. Also, watch who you cc. If you’re including people on your messages who don’t really need to be included, you’re wasting your team’s time as well.

Ditch the waterfall.

Once a widely accepted project management methodology, waterfall has proven to be more of a hassle than what it’s worth, mainly because it can result in tremendous inefficiency. For instance, if developers discover something faulty with a previous step, the entire project must be scrapped and started afresh. And because testing doesn’t happen until later in the process, any existing bugs could have resulted in incorrect coding. If your team is still using waterfall practices, it may be time to consider making the switch to agile.

Expand your network.

It’s easy to feel as though the problems you, your team or your organization are experiencing are unique, but in reality most IT leaders are struggling with the same issues. Some of these other folks may already have figured out the best solution. Rather than wasting time, spinning your wheels and brainstorming on your own, why not tap into your network of peers. By leveraging the insight and advice of others, your decision-making will be faster and more on-point.

Automate.

To some, this one may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s surprising how many IT leaders are still dragging their feet on the automation front. Yet, when you look at the actual, quantifiable numbers, the benefits of automation and AI are staggering. According to a recent report by WorkMarket, 53% of employees say automation could save them up to 2 work hours per day (240 hours per year) and that number goes up to 3 work hours (360 hours per year) for 78% business leaders. At an average workweek of 40 hours, that equates to a time savings of 6 weeks for employees and 9 full weeks for leaders. What could you and your team do with that much time savings?

Scratch the standups.

Daily standup meetings may seem like a good idea on the surface, but when you gather your team on such a frequent basis, the results hardly make it worth the time. The real value of meetings lies in problem-solving, brainstorming and real-time collaboration. Daily scrum, on the other hand, tend to be more about status updates, which isn’t really the best use of anyone’s time. If daily huddles are currently your thing, you may want to consider spacing those meetings out and reserving them for specific needs rather than check-ins.

Fail fast and ditch what isn’t working.

Just because something’s always been done a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the best way. In fact, you or your team could very well be wasting precious time on practices and policies that are out-of-date and wildly inefficient. Agile isn’t just a methodology for project management. It’s also an important mindset – particularly for an IT leader. Make the coming year one in which you work to identify things that aren’t working and take the necessary steps to change them for the better.

Don’t be an island.

Just because you happen to be in a position of power at your organization doesn’t mean you have to solve problems entirely on your own. To the contrary, the most efficient and successful IT leaders not only value but actively seek the assistance of others. Think about it. You are already leading a team of educated problem-solvers. Your job should be to expose existing issues and then let the team determine the best resolution. Not only will this save you time and aggravation, but it’ll also enable you to develop a sense of trust and respect amongst your employees, which can go a long way toward retention.

Free eBook! Get Your Own Copy Today

The Human Element of AI Implementation

The benefits of artificial intelligence for business are widely acknowledged and understood. So, why are so many organizations still holding back when it comes to adoption? While it may seem logical to blame technical issues for the holdup, in reality what’s standing in the way is far more likely to be human in nature, whether it’s uncooperative employees, confusion over what AI means, unrealistic expectations of executives or something else. The key to navigating these roadblocks is addressing this human element.

Coming Down to Earth

Surprisingly, one of the biggest misconceptions people have about artificial intelligence is that it can solve any problem the business is experiencing. Have an issue? Just throw some intelligent automation at it. But the truth is, as amazing as the technology is, AI simply cannot fix everything. It’s essential that this message is clearly communicated and sufficiently understood. To set more realistic expectations, begin with a specific business objective and then determine holistically how you’re going to align everything to accomplish that goal.

Network to Gain Buy-In

If the human issue you’re struggling to overcome is resistance, networking can do wonders (and no, we’re not talking about computer networking). Once you’ve identified a good problem to solve, work on developing a few proof of concepts and then begin socializing with those throughout the organization. This can raise the level of awareness and help people gain a clearer understanding of what AI is, how it works and what it can help them accomplish. Identifying early adopters and internal champions is also important. These individuals can help explain artificial intelligence in a language that others understand.

Combat Fear of Change

Innovative tech solutions – especially as they relate to automation – are typically marketed on the premise that they’ll streamline efficiency and cut costs. But from an end-user’s perspective, AI can feel like a looming threat ready to inch them out of a job. Will intelligent automation eliminate some jobs? Of course. But that doesn’t mean those human resources can’t still be retained through more strategic allocation. If fear of change is hindering adoption of AI, repurpose your message to present it as a solution that will make their lives better, whether that be reducing their day-to-day drudgery or giving them an opportunity to focus their talents on more meaningful work.

Ultimately, the best strategy for successful AI implementation is to align your systems, process and people. Without the latter part of the equation, you simply will not achieve complete success. By recognizing and addressing the human element, adoption should be smooth sailing.

If you’re interested in starting small and experiencing the quick and measurable wins of intelligent automation, good news! We’re now offering a free 30-day trial of Ayehu. Give our fully functional platform a test drive today!

New Call-to-action