How efficiently are you working? If you’re like many people, probably not as efficiently as you could – sometimes due to no fault of your own. The business impacts of this can be significant, however.
Productivity plays a huge role in a company’s financial health. Recent data from McKinsey & Company shows that productivity has barely grown in the U.S. (1.4%) since 2005. They also estimate that boosting U.S. productivity represents a $10 trillion opportunity.
Few teams feel the effects of unproductive work quite like IT. Their teams are typically small, and yet their work is overwhelming and mission-critical to keeping businesses moving forward. For instance, countless SaaS applications are now integral to the operations of every company, and yet one, often lean team is responsible for their upkeep and management.
That makes IT operations a potential bottleneck. Unsurprisingly, according to Evanta (a Gartner company), CIOs say increasing efficiency and productivity are top priorities for 2023.
The Manual Trap
SaaS applications, from project management, CRM and collaboration to MarTech and expense tools, are inseparable from our daily work. And our IT stacks are continuously increasing, with companies worldwide using an average of 130 apps in 2022.
My experience in the IT space has taught me that most IT teams still manage SaaS applications manually, attempting to track their licenses, users, and renewals via spreadsheets and provisioning/deprovisioning access to applications one by one. These bandwidth-crunched teams are wasting valuable (and expensive) time completing important yet mundane and repetitive tasks that are humanly impossible to keep up with – and, therefore, prime candidates for an automation-driven productivity boost.
The Onboarding/Offboarding Bottleneck
Two of the most time-intensive IT operations are onboarding and offboarding employees from SaaS applications.
Consider this scenario: A company is growing rapidly, hiring to fill the gaps they have across their organization to keep up with the high volume of work required to hit their increasing targets. Maybe they bulk-start new employees on one specific day, every two weeks.
If they have five employees starting on that day, IT first needs to receive the information that those employees are starting. They need to learn what departments those employees will work within and what tools are required for their roles. From there, they must provision access to those applications per employee and application. Endless Slack messages, clunky application backends and likely incomplete information eat up their day.
By the time they finish provisioning that group of new hires, the next group is likely just about to start. Any failures along that scattered onboarding process create a less-than-ideal onboarding experience and derail a new employee’s initial productivity.
On the flip side of this process is offboarding employees.
Manual offboarding requires IT to work with a departing employee’s manager to learn what apps they used (a less than scientific endeavor, particularly when you consider that many employees subscribe to apps on their own without others’ knowledge), and then manually deprovision them from every application. Beyond the time sink for IT, there is also a risk factor — failing to deprovision an employee from even one could leave sensitive company information accessible.
While handling these critical tasks in this manner is inefficient, it’s also indicative of the wasteful nature of manual IT operations. IT pros are highly technical and talented. Having them spend their time on tedious tasks distracts them from working on higher-value projects.
Increase IT Productivity Through Automation
Gartner predicts that by 2025, 70% of organizations will implement structured automation to deliver efficiency, an increase from just 20% of organizations in 2021.
Despite that, Torii’s survey of over 200 IT professionals found that less than half of respondents have fully automated most tasks, and only 13% reported great success with automation.
So what’s stopping IT from automating? Time: 58% cite insufficient staffing or time as significant challenges in automation implementation. It’s a chicken and egg scenario.
The only way forward is through investing in tools that help manage their SaaS stack, that also include intuitive automation capabilities.
Investing in any old automation, won’t cut it either. In the context of IT, how that automation integrates and interacts with your SaaS stack is key.
Solutions such as SaaS Management Platforms, with automation built-in, provide the visibility IT needs to understand their SaaS stack and associated users and costs, as well as with the actionability required to manage it.
For the onboarding/offboarding bottleneck, this means automatically discovering and surfacing every application in use at your company, first and foremost. From that point of centralized visibility, you can create workflows that automate previously time-intensive tasks (and eliminate the chance of things falling through the cracks) to free up your IT staff’s time (and improve results).
For example, the system can detect which department new hires work in and automatically provision access to the applications they’ll require. Equally for offboarding, when an employee leaves — since you’re aware of every application they’re utilizing, the same platform can automatically deprovision them once triggered by your IDP or HRIS.
These are just small examples of the automation opportunities for IT, but when you compare them to the manual alternatives, it’s easy to imagine the productivity gains you can garner.
As companies continue looking to save costs, greater productivity could fit the bill — as it improves the value of every dollar spent.
By better using time, you’ll enable your organization to optimize resource use and focus on the objectives that drive revenue. Those that invest in productivity now stand to earn more from the efficiency gains of the future.
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