In the daily hustle and bustle of running a textile rental service company, being proactive about your technology needs often falls to the bottom of the list. Unless something is imminently incorrect or failing, it is easy to forget that information technology and services play an important role in the life of your laundry. Just as the nervous system is the highway along which your brain sends and receives information about what is going on within the body, your IT systems keep processes moving. This article will discuss two key indicators that IT systems at your company could be in trouble.
There are many things to consider ensuring that your IT system is running properly. From a management perspective, two big potential indicators to watch out for include not having IT staff cross-training and inadequate documentation. Managing these two items is imperative for a healthy IT system.
Ensure IT Staff Cross-Training
In today’s business environment, redundancy is often considered a bad thing. After all, who wants to pay two people to do the same job? When it comes to technology however, there is great danger in only having one IT person on your staff or having your IT staff only functioning within one specific role.
If there is a technology issue and a member of your IT team is sick, can anyone step in to fix the problem? If the head of your technology department left tomorrow, could your group still function properly? If the answer to either of these is no, you need to take a serious look at your organizational structure. Changes to your technology team will happen so it is important to prepare properly in order to keep your business running smoothly and minimize any down time.
The solution is cross-training. If your department is a one-person shop, this means adding an additional staff member. Once you have several IT staff members, cross-training should be an ongoing process within your organization. It is easy to assume that your company’s IT department does this already, but the truth is that cross-training doesn’t happen without a dedicated effort. There is a natural tendency to lean towards job security and to make an organization dependent upon a person’s unique skill-set. It is in the company’s best interest to institute cross-training to reduce this dependency and protect the business.
Once properly trained, put a system of checks and balances into place that keep your entire IT staff accountable. Ensure that multiple technology skill-sets are a part of each IT team member’s job description and make it a part of each employee’s annual performance review.
Documentation is Essential
Having proper documentation of your IT systems and infrastructure is vital to your business operations. Unfortunately, most companies don’t realize that they lack the proper documentation until there is a problem. More often, they may have the documentation “somewhere”, but the information was never properly organized and is difficult to find. Having proper (and organized) documentation of your relevant and current system configuration, integration and infrastructure can significantly reduce troubleshooting and recovery times. Perhaps more importantly, it can minimize customer service interruptions.
This is another instance where management teams often turn a blind eye and just assume that everything is automatically documented, unfortunately this is rarely the case. IT staff members often feel like firefighters – they are so busy putting out fires and taking care of immediate needs that the documentation duties get put on the back burner. Before you know it, the information is misplaced or lost altogether.
To be fair, many IT staffers are also not properly trained on how to store the documentation. This is where cross-training again comes in to make sure multiple staff members know how to reach the proper information. Documentation requirements should also apply to any third-party IT service providers or contractors that you use. If your company relies on contract IT services, be sure you have documentation from them on the systems they maintain, access credentials, etc. Build the requirement into your contract and ensure it is properly maintained.
Non-existent or inadequate IT documentation can extend system downtime, increase recovery costs, and most importantly, negatively affect your customers. To mitigate the risk, make documentation development and maintenance a part of all IT staff job descriptions, verify it is being done and finally make it a part of their performance review.
Cross-training and documentation are vital to the success of your textile rental business’ operations. Don’t wait until a crisis occurs before instituting systems of accountability and education. A strong management team does not need to know how to do the technical execution of their IT systems, but instituting these two important steps can avoid extended system downtimes, realize decreased recovery costs and reduce the impact to your customers.
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