Optimize Your Team's Time and Resources to Get the Most Out of Your Applications
February 02, 2018

Gary Mann

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In order to be successful, companies need to ensure that all three parts of the age-old IT adage are optimized — people, processes, and technology. My last blog, 3 Tips for Reining in Your Application Portfolio, covered technology-oriented best practices that application management and IT help desks can use to optimize the performance of their applications and the IT teams that oversee them. Now I'll explore what IT professionals can do to optimize their team's time and resources — the people and processes — in pursuit of that same goal.

For professionals who oversee application management and IT help desks, no one day is the same. Most wear many hats — supervising everything from the applications on which the organization depends, to taking care of the innumerable support requests that arise each day. Technology acumen is important, of course, but it's merely one piece of the "technology, people, and processes" required to succeed in such a multi-faceted role. That's why no discussion of application management is complete without exploring what can be done to ensure that processes best serve the people involved, and that these individuals are engaged in a cohesive effort.

In the course of my work, I've been fortunate to engage in projects that show how some of the world's most successful companies tackle this reality. What I've learned working with those companies to eliminate IT inefficiencies and best manage their application portfolios is applicable to organizations of all sizes, in all industries.

Perhaps most importantly, these lessons will only increase in relevance in the months and years to come. Application portfolios will continue to grow in scope as automation simultaneously plays a greater role in workflows. As a result, the potential for staff and IT inefficiencies will continue to increase. It does not matter what industry you are in, it's imperative to have processes in place to address these realities.

How can you do this effectively? Following are several best practices to ensure that you keep IT and staff inefficiencies in check, ensure the success of your application management efforts, and optimize the performance of your application portfolio to better serve those who rely on it.

Don't get bogged down in the now

If you are having issues with your staff, application portfolio, support processes, or needy or demanding users — these are "now" issues, not long-term priorities that will determine your direction moving forward. They are of course important and must be dealt with, but all too often, IT teams can get bogged down by the myriad details that arise around these activities, and in the process miss opportunities to attend to the underlying, root causes of inefficiencies.

One example is often encountered at hospitals. Physicians rightfully expect immediate action by the IT team when any application issues impact patient care, but it's important to separate those issues from ones that can reasonably be dealt with in a more measured fashion. Users' egos must be recognized and dealt with.

Similarly, make sure your IT organization does not lose its strategic focus

Maintaining a strategic focus, and separating it from the innumerable demands you're facing now, ultimately enables you to do more and provide higher quality service. Make sure you don't lose focus on what your staff needs to manage and support your growing application portfolio, acquire new skill sets to support new technologies — such as artificial intelligence, automation, and more — and remain nimble in order to meet the business needs of your team and the end users they serve. This includes having the right balance of skill sets on your team to address both maintenance and support needs, as well as your strategic priorities. Your expensive and experienced staff should not be unable to take on your strategic priorities because they are overwhelmed by maintenance and support-related tasks.

Build a team based on a functional breakdown versus an application breakdown

This will enable you to combine functions across the overall skill set and create opportunities for application performance and process/workflow improvements, operational efficiencies, and ultimately, cost savings.

For example, if a client has three different financial systems and they have three different people doing the same thing — each in a different application, but supporting common functions — the skill set can be identified, applied at a functional level, and result in one person performing these common tasks across the three applications. This creates efficiencies and saves money and time.

Make sure your team, and overall efforts, are dedicated to delivering quality

A steadfast commitment to quality and a dedicated quality program will be the key to managing your application portfolio today and in the future. An effective quality program is essentially one that is focused on the alignment of the people and processes needed for success, and the technology they require. It can be an expensive undertaking in the beginning, but one that will pay off many times over in the end once everyone understands their role and acts on it in an efficient manner.

By keeping these best practices in mind and applying the right technology to your efforts, IT teams can work confidently knowing that they are getting the most out of their applications and teams that oversee them. Perhaps most importantly, they will know they are providing the singular support end users need to be most effective.

Gary Mann is Managing Director, Application Management and Support, at CTG
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