Closing Your IT Fire Station

How to shift your team of overloaded fire fighters to relevant business contributors

We’ve already discussed the reasons that most IT teams are overworked. But there has to be a solution, right? Not just
Fire_Businessa solution that is case-by-case, but a way to create an overall strategy to get your team out of break-fix mode and into a position as a relevant department that contributes to your organization’s business objectives.  And it’s not just about landing a bigger budget.  If you don’t know how to effectively use the money you get (however much it may be), then your organization will continue to see you as a black-hole cost center, and you’re only adding fuel to the fire. What you need is a plan – a comprehensive strategy built for making the shift from tactical to relevant.


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So here are four steps to getting out of the IT fire business:

1. Objectively Analyze Your Internal Team
Before you decide what changes to make or what additional resources to bring in, you need to honestly determine if your team is efficient as it is.  There is likely a work overload, but in addition to that you may be exacerbating the issue with unnecessary redundancies and gaps in your internal structure.  Starting from the inside will help you with a couple of things—it might help you to get more out of the resources you currently have, and it will definitely help you discover where you actually do need more resources, which is the next step in the process.
2. Evaluate Your Needs
Once you’ve tightened the ship, so to speak, you can determine what adjustments you can make in order to help your team be more strategic in their operations.  Do you need more manpower?  Should you outsource and move to the cloud?  Is there a tool you’re missing that would automate tasks or make your processes faster?  Make a prioritized list of resources that would help you achieve departmental goals more quickly and effectively.  Put those goals into a report that you can discuss with decision makers and (this is key): tie them all back to business objectives.  Make sure that everything you’re asking for will enable your team to contribute to the overarching strategic goals of the organization.
3. Present Your Report to Decision Makers
Start by reminding them of how many tasks, projects, and activities your team actually has a hand in.  Then share the steps you’ve taken and your analysis of opportunities you would have to contribute to the organization if granted the additional resources you’re requesting.  And don’t use terms like Gig, POE, or 802.11 to explain what you need.  This is proving to your organization that you only think in a technical, tactical way.  In order to be seen as a relevant member of the overall business, you will need to speak in terms of strategy and business goals.

4. Start with One Project at a Time
Start with the next initiative your organization establishes/requests.  Instead of talking about the tactical aspects like equipment and labor, talk about why they’re making that request and how it will contribute to the objectives they’re trying to achieve.  Keep those objectives and projected outcomes handy and review them during every single solitary step of the process.  By achieving those objectives and continually discussing them (instead of just the inner workings of the technology), you are proving to the rest of the organization that you have the ability to contribute to objectives that matter to the business.

Good luck and remember be pro-active not re-active “stay out of the fire fighting business”.

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