Make Your IT Department Run Like a Lean Startup

April 8, 2015

5:00 pm

In 2011, Eric Ries published a book that redefined what it meant to create something from scratch. The Lean Startup taught entrepreneurs everywhere what it means to take a business from its inception and turn it into something beautiful. It was frighteningly honest and delightfully accommodating.

Not everyone has the chance to start a business, but the Lean Startup isn’t about revolutionizing the inception of a business. It’s about re-revolutionizing all workplace operations as if it were a startup. It’s taken years but IT departments are starting to adapt some of Ries’ principles shared in the Lean Startup.

The more efficient the IT department runs, the more benefits the company will be able to reap, so it is essential that this area of the company is managed as smoothly as possible. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to consider the department as a separate self-reliant lean startup.

Here are six ways to maximize the potential of an IT department:

1. Hire knowledgeable professionals

Though this tip may seem intuitive, many businesses try to save money by either not hiring enough staff or hiring a lower paid staff to perform high-end functions. Avoid the temptation to add a savvy but unqualified individual to the payroll when a trained professional technician is an option. The knowledge that the latter has could save the extra cost of his or her salary in the long run.

2. Enable technicians to have remote access to company computers

The convenience factor of this option is well worth the cost and can make operations much more efficient, especially for companies with multiple locations but only one IT department. It might even be worth it to consider delegating routine tasks or one-time projects to virtual assistants who work from a remote location. These individuals are typically freelancers, so they often function as a resource to tap into without the risk of adding more personnel.

3. Assign effective group policy protocol

IT technicians should be keeping group policy in mind for every user that gets added to the network. Though an accountant, real estate agent, or banker may need a computer to function properly in their work environment, each worker does not need full access to all the resources on a machine owned by the company. This isn’t to say that employees can’t be trusted, but group policy can eliminate potential issues caused by those who may not be trained to perform IT tasks.

4. Preventative maintenance

Computers, just like anything else, can accumulate wear and tear or other issues over the course of their use. IT managers should schedule a time for technicians to perform the proper preventative maintenance to keep machines running at optimal performance for as long as possible. Such tasks could include virus scanning, deleting temporary Internet files and cookies, removing dust that has gathered on the inside of cases, performing router maintenance and running updates on the operating system or related work software.

5. Make major changes outside of business hours

It is a known possibility that the server has to be updated once in a while or the router needs to be reconfigured. A good practice is to perform these processes either in the evening or during the weekend to avoid any potential issues with down time. The worst scenario would be to affect the workflow of the entire company during the peak of operation if something were to happen such as loss of Internet connection.

6. Stay updated on the latest technology

Make reading white papers, catching up on forums, and doing research a regular part of the job. Technology evolves quickly, so there are constantly new opportunities to offer the company more efficient or better IT solutions and cloud computing opportunities. Though an upgrade may not be in the immediate budget, it would not hurt to propose changes periodically to keep the business up to speed.


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Alex Espenson is a recently retired business owner turned consultant, with a passion for entrepreneurism and marketing. When he isn't writing or consulting, you can usually find him out on the river with his fly rod, or hiking in the hills near his home in Boulder Colorado.