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In an era of mobility and social media, when customers shop, bank and interact online around the clock, managing a company's information technology is a 24/7 task. Here are five ways to ensure your company remains; 'always on' while still retaining your staff.
Mobility trends and changing customer expectations are driving an 'always-on' IT environment that leaves IT staff with little free time. Missing chances to interact with customers or partners can damage your reputation or derail projects, while unexpected system downtime can be catastrophically costly to your bottom line.
So how do you manage this demanding IT environment in a way that respects your staff and meets the needs of your business?
1. Make the most of outsourcing services
Minimise the risk of expensive system outages by outsourcing IT backup, monitoring and redundancy requirements to relieve some of the pressure on your employees.
Third-party cloud services, in particular, take advantage of international support staff. Regardless of your current time and location, someone, somewhere is on duty, monitoring and backing up your files.
2. Create offline backups
Creating offline backups means your essential business data will always be available when you need it, regardless of the day or the hour.
If a major system is compromised – whether by a natural disaster or cybercrime – your offline files won’t be affected and critical systems can be quickly reinstated with minimal impact on your customer or damage to the business.
3. Roster around the clock
Develop a round-the-clock roster that covers all business requirements and contingencies. This might include additional IT staff who are immediately available in the event of emergencies, or who can participate in late-night calls with company offices or third parties in other parts of the world.
You never know when you might need all hands on deck, so prepare for different scenarios and don’t just focus on the times when you think the business might need additional coverage. Ensure that there are always people available to cover the roster if someone is sick or on leave, and make sure on-call staff know they are expected to work overtime if required.
4. Make the most of technology
Mobile technology will ensure that many maintenance, troubleshooting and diagnostic tasks can be performed by a shift engineer from outside the office – or that someone can brief them fully so they are ready to go from the moment they arrive.
Being able to make and receive calls or access project documents in the cloud also enables IT staff to recognise and solve problems before they escalate, as well as speak to colleagues in different time zones from the comfort of their homes.
5. Establish some respect
IT staff will be far more willing to make themselves available out of hours if they know there are also times when they can ask for radio silence – and receive it.
Establish regular off-call times – when staff are on holiday or after 6 pm on a Sunday night, for example – and stick to them. Employees who have the opportunity to de-stress are more likely to be switched on and productive during the long hours they are at work.
‘Always on’ IT requirements can be demanding for any business. By using these five tactics, companies can ensure they have the right resources and technology to keep their IT infrastructure ticking away – and the right people on hand to fix it if things go awry.