When you look into the current workflows of your IT team, you suddenly realize… there are no workflows in place.
They lack standards, have no rules for prioritizing tasks and perhaps have never bothered with process documentation.
Whether you have a few IT specialists on your team or a few dozen, poorly organized processes can become a serious problem for the entire organization. The workflows in your IT department affect the performance of every other team — from accountants to sales reps.
So if you care about the future of the company you work for (and want to take credit for its growth), you’d better start organizing mismanaged IT processes now.
What is process improvement?
Process improvement is the practice of organizing and standardizing internal workflows to increase process efficiency.
The practice requires revising existing processes, finding ways to achieve higher efficiency, standardizing workflows, implementing automation (when possible) and documenting the outcomes.
It can be applied to any team within any industry. In IT, process improvement involves optimizing IT operations like access management, incident management, request fulfillment, technology purchasing and more.
Examples of process improvement in IT
Process improvement isn’t done in one step. It’s a set of sequential practices that optimize different aspects of IT specialists’ routines. These are just a few examples of process improvement in IT teams:
- Creating a consistent onboarding process
- Standardizing technology procurement
- Developing repeatable workflows
- Automating redundant tasks
- Establishing measurable KPIs
- Introducing quarterly training
- Documenting processes
7 Signs of disorganized processes
Before you get started with IT process improvement, it’s worth figuring out what exactly is wrong with the existing setup.
1. Frequent miscommunication
Are your team members frequently missing messages? Do they fail to understand their colleague’s requests? Have you noticed frequent conflicts?
Miscommunication is one of the earliest symptoms of mismanaged processes.
For IT teams, proper communication is among the most important factors determining the success of daily operations. IT specialists usually take tasks from other teams, and whether their communication is effective or not affects how well they do the work.
Poor communication in the workplace results in low efficiency and frequent misunderstandings and hurts employee morale.
2. Difficulties accessing critical data
Companies with inefficient processes usually experience problems with knowledge management. It’s hard for employees to find the necessary information to successfully complete projects. Sounds familiar?
If your IT team has no shared knowledge base to rely on, they must be wasting a lot of time searching for data or providing it to other teams. That’s why one of your first steps into process improvement will be creating a shared database that everyone in your IT department and outside it can access.
3. High turnover
Struggling to retain employees? It’s not always the money or opportunities that drive people away from your company. They might simply be tired of fighting with windmills.
When employees have to deal with inefficient processes for a long time, they eventually get frustrated and quit. In fact, 49 percent of employees feel somewhat burned out. The good news is — you can retain some of them by giving them a carte blanche to improve mismanaged processes.
4. Inefficient onboarding
If it takes too much time to get new hires up to speed, you should definitely do something with an internal onboarding process.
An outdated, inefficient onboarding process can’t adequately prepare your new IT specialists for the roles they should perform. As a result, your new hires either take a long path of trial and error or quit (see point 3).
As a part of your process improvement initiative, you’ll need to revisit and update your employee onboarding process.
5. Unclear roles and responsibilities
Can you quickly answer who does what in your team? No? Then this is another warning sign your teammates are struggling with poorly organized processes.
Unclear roles and responsibilities not only result in workplace conflicts but also slow down daily workflows. When you don’t know how to effectively divide work in the team, people might end up doing twice as much (or as little) work.
Moreover, people outside the team will also fail to understand who they should turn to when they’re having a technical problem. Without a proper automated ticket assignment process, they’ll be disturbing the wrong professionals with irrelevant requests and spending much time trying to figure out who they should turn to.
That being said, defining roles and responsibilities will be another step toward improving operational efficiency in your IT team.
6. Missing deadlines
If your team fails to meet deadlines too often, there are two possible reasons for the issue — unrealistic goals or mismanaged processes.
Assuming you’re sure you’re setting realistic deadlines, it’s poorly organized workflows that prevent your IT team from reaching the targets on time. By optimizing repeatable processes and developing standard operating procedures (SOPs), you’ll enable your team to complete tasks faster and finally meet deadlines.
7. A lack of automation
How many of your internal processes are automated? If the answer is “none,” your team must be wasting a lot of time on redundant tasks.
As you’re revisiting and updating IT workflows, you’ll need to find a place for implementing automation wherever possible to take the burden off your team and let them focus on more important tasks.
How to improve processes in your IT team
Follow these six proven tips to apply process improvement principles specifically to IT.
Pinpoint problems and prioritize
How has the team been operating up until this moment? Make a list of all the processes they carry out regularly and ask them to share how they’ve been approaching those, step-by-step.
You may find out that different team members perform the same process in different ways — this is where you need to identify the most effective approach and document it.
Some established processes might simply be outdated, and you’ll need to completely reshape them. But before you act, make a list of what has to be done and prioritize your process improvement initiatives based on their impact and ease of implementation.
Standardize repetitive tasks
Here’s what you can do to standardize repetitive tasks for your IT team and reduce their workload:
- Create a framework for prioritizing and assigning tickets.
- Establish a software purchasing process.
- Optimize purchasing approval workflows.
- Develop an incident management workflow.
One of the biggest pains for IT teams is managing tickets. If you standardize this process and create rules for automatic ticket filtering and assigning, you’re halfway through the process optimization cycle.
What else can you do to improve the efficiency of your IT team? Use automation to manage key IT operations without the need for human intervention.
Automate processes like ticket management, security analysis and IT asset management so your team can do more with less.
Optimize onboarding flows
When you’ve updated work processes, you can move on to improving onboarding flows for new hires. Take these steps to create a smoother onboarding process:
- Create an onboarding checklist.
- Build an interactive onboarding flow.
- Develop training materials.
- Provide in-app guidance for new software.
- Minimize the need for in-person training.
- Automate software access control.
With an updated onboarding flow, your seniors won’t have to spend much time on in-person training, and new employees will get up to speed faster.
Create a shared knowledge base
Most of the time, people from other departments reach out to IT specialists with very basic questions. Answer these questions in your knowledge base and make sure everyone in your company has access to it.
If your company doesn’t have an internal wiki yet, it’s time to create one. If it has, it’s time to create a separate section where you’ll cover all the frequently asked questions addressed to your IT department.
Develop step-by-step guides on the processes where employees usually ask your IT team for assistance. You’ll be shocked to see how much time you can save in doing so.
Scribe is a process documentation tool that captures your workflow and turns it into written instructions — plus annotated screenshots.
Scribe saves you hours of manual documentation, and makes it easier than ever to share how something's done.
Have you created new processes? Document them.
Have you left some processes as they are? Document them.
Document every standard workflow with step-by-step guides, flowcharts, mindmaps or any other format. No matter how you visualize your workflows, it’s critical that you store them in a centralized location and that everyone on the team has access to them.
What you need to get up to speed with IT process improvement
There are only two types of tools you’ll need to perform process improvement successfully.
Help desk software
Hopefully, you already have adopted help desk software in your team. But are you realizing its full potential?
Automatic ticket assignment is the #1 feature you should look for in your help desk system. Based on the rules you define, it will filter and reroute tickets to the most relevant agents automatically. Haven’t you set it up yet? Act now.
Many help desk systems also provide knowledge base solutions, self-service portals, SLO management, and reporting. Check out the features of your help desk software to make the most out of it.
Knowledge management software
You’re going to document a lot of things as you work on process improvement. You’ll be describing workflows for your team, creating guides for people outside of the team, answering FAQs, etc.
Boring documentation can eat up a lot of time, but it doesn’t have to. With good knowledge management software, you can automate even this process. Scribe auto-generates step-by-step guides by following your actions so you don’t have to write anything manually.
Try Scribe to create instructions for non-tech colleagues, create training materials for new hires and create troubleshooting guides in seconds.