Managing 24/7 IT Operations is a hands-on job and indeed a difficult one. Over the years I have found some simple tips and techniques to increase the efficiency of the overall operations. The core concept has always been on continuous improvement; any process that is introduced needs to be adjusted / optimized depending on the work condition and team members.
IT Operations needs to be constantly improved in order to respond to business needs. Below are some of the tools that have helped me to increase efficiency:
1. Task Calendar
Maintain a list of tasks at hand and assign them to respective team members with target dates. Don’t be too specific with the target dates unless specifically required, I usually iterate to one or at most two levels .i.e. Month and then week. For example ‘ task A’ needs to be completed by 2nd week of 3rd month. Distribute the list to members in advance and make sure that you follow up so that tasks are completed on time. By listing the tasks in this manner I believe they are easy to track and execute.
2. Pre-Planned Meetings for the whole year
Scheduled meeting in advance on periodic intervals from the beginning of the year. This will help you keep track of the progress and make adjustments before things get delayed. I usually plan meeting for yearly targets, projects and scheduled activities.
3. Purchase Calendar
Managing IT operations require renewals and purchase of Software and SLAs. It’s hard to keep track of things when dealing with daily operational tasks; I found it helpful to create a Purchase Calendar for the whole year after the budget is approved. Sample Purchase Calendar could include the following things:
Actual Amount (For this year)
Awarded To (Vendor Name)
This not only helps in keeping track of all the things that need to be purchased but also helps when preparing budget for the next year.
4. Score Card of team based on Tasks
The most difficult task that I always faced was how to rate my team members at the end of the year. Usually we are more inclined to rank the person who is performing well at the time of performance appraisals better, but this is unfair sometimes because we all have our own share of highs and lows and it’s very difficult to plan our screw ups. I believe that if the team is not satisfied with your evaluation it will have a very negative impact on their performance and hence on the IT Operations.
I developed a sort of score card to record the performance of the team; my score card looked somewhat like this:
Task Category Weightage
(Referenced from Tasks Calendar) 20%
I keep a record of all the tasks that were assigned to the team and always make sure that team members are aware in what category each task falls. This way they knows which task is need to be given extra attention.
At the time of ‘performance appraisals this serves as a very useful reference point for the discussion. For added reference I usually record my comments against each task assigned like what went well and what went wrong so that at the end of the year we are discussing the overall performance of the person instead of the last assignment he aced or did not do well.
I hope these tips would be useful for all the IT Operations guys out there! Please share any other tricks that you all are employing.