Efficient IT processes save your business time and money, increase customer satisfaction, and boost your bottom line. But what exactly does efficient IT mean, how can you measure it, and how can you remove inefficiencies from your workflow?
Businesses must devote as much effort to analyzing current IT performance and efficiency as they are to creating their IT strategies.
In this article, I'll share tips for improving business performance and customer satisfaction with this deep dive into IT efficiency.
What is Efficiency in IT?
IT efficiency refers to the idea of maintaining or even improving the quality of IT services while spending less to deliver those services. For a SaaS provider, that could mean reducing bandwidth costs or switching from on-premises servers to cloud instances where you can better manage resource utilization.
The goal of IT efficiency is to find the most cost-effective way to allow the business to achieve its goals without sacrificing performance or reliability.
How Do You Measure Efficiency in IT?
There may be some trade-offs when trying to achieve efficiency in the IT department. It’s vital to have some clear metrics in mind to ensure you’re heading in the right direction.
|IT Efficiency Metrics
|Are you still able to meet (and ideally exceed) the uptime levels described in your SLAs?
|How long after a user submits a request do they receive a response? Acceptable response times vary between applications. However, any changes you make should not make the application slower.
|Having significant server resources sitting unused would be inefficient. However, having services running at close to full utilization is also a problem if you cannot scale to meet periods of peak demand.
|Mean Time to Respond/Resolve
|When customers have issues, how long does it take to respond and resolve them?
|Are customers satisfied with the performance of your application?
It’s also helpful to consider your expenditure, both on a per-category basis and overall. For example, monthly bandwidth fees may be higher with a cloud services provider than if you’re colocating a server in a data center. However, if you’re receiving some managed services as part of the cloud package, you may be putting fewer man-hours into maintaining your IT infrastructure, resulting in cost savings overall.
Assess Your Current IT Efficiency
To get better visibility into your IT efficiency, work through the following process:
- Identify your business needs. Consider any areas where your current infrastructure struggles to meet them.
- Note any costs associated with your current IT strategy, both recurring and occasional.
- Assess the performance of your SaaS offerings and note key performance and customer satisfaction-related metrics.
- Meet with stakeholders, including those directly involved with IT management and on the floor. Identify jobs that are time-consuming and could potentially benefit from optimization.
- Map out your current workflows. Are there areas where modernizing your technology choices could save staff time, reduce downtime, or reduce costs?
Once you’ve identified areas for improvement, you can start making changes. Continue to monitor the metrics listed above and review these questions regularly. Maintaining an efficient IT infrastructure is an ongoing process, and there are always ways you can improve your deployments.
5 Areas Where You Can Increase Your IT Efficiency
1. Enhance Visibility Through Data Utilization
Big data isn’t a new concept. In 2012, the Harvard Business Review called big data “the management revolution.” Despite the early buzz, adoption has been slow. Gartner estimates that at the end of 2023, only around 33% of large organizations will use big data for decision intelligence.
Your IT deployments generate a lot of logs and data, and you have access to a vast amount of information about customer behaviors, too. Use that data to gain visibility into both the technical performance of your systems and your user’s habits.
2. Embrace Cloud Solutions
Flexibility, scalability, and potential cost savings are some of the benefits cloud service providers offer. Virtualization and deploying your services to multiple data centers worldwide can help maximize your SaaS product’s availability and improve performance for international users.
If you’re currently hosting your services on-premises, consider cloud migration to improve:
- Cost Efficiency
- Scalability and Flexibility
- Enhanced Collaboration
- Disaster Recovery and Data Backup
- Security Improvements
- Access to Advanced Technologies
- Focus on Core Business
- Environmental Impact
3. Leverage Automation and AI
Automation and AI can streamline many areas of your IT operations. Tasks potentially suitable for process automation software include screening customer queries before putting them through to the helpdesk, processing security event logs, and scheduling repetitive maintenance tasks.
Look for ways to deploy automation that will support your existing workforce and free up their time to focus on tasks that directly benefit end-users.
4. Prioritize Agile and DevOps Methodologies
Agile and DevOps can help speed up your development process by creating a culture of collaboration and encouraging regular deployments and incremental change. DevOps allows teams to work more quickly, test new ideas, and fail in a low-risk way.
As a SaaS organization, your goal is to provide your users with products that are performant, reliable, and innovative. The DevOps methodology means you can iterate on your product quickly, delivering cutting-edge features to your users without the risk associated with large release updates.
5. Empower Team Members to Excel
Information technology is rapidly changing, and SaaS providers must strive to keep updated with the latest developments. This is something that should be happening at all levels, not just among the business leaders. There are endless IT resources available for free, but providing skills development opportunities for IT staff, such as training and certifications, helps reduce staff turnover and also improves their ability to serve your customers.
Effective IT managers see training costs as an investment in their organization’s sustainability.
Case Study: Continuous Improvement in Action
SaaS provider Asana offers collaboration and task management tools for distributed teams. The company’s software is sophisticated, but many users reported slow page loading times, making the system frustrating for them to use.
In some ways, Asana was a victim of their success. They launched in 2008, and as their user base grew, they found the application framework they’d developed to start with was unable to scale.
The company spent several years working on ways to reduce (and mask) network latency and generally make their application more reliable. They also switched the UI to React to improve the overall user experience.
These changes halved loading times, significantly improving the user experience. However, Asana did not rest on their laurels after achieving these improvements. They continued to iterate and improve on the platform, updating their APIs to provide data to users three times faster.
Since then, the company has focused on continuous improvement, introducing new features, including AI-driven tools to satisfy user demand.
Cultivate a Culture of IT Efficiency
IT efficiency is not just a buzzword to use on your management reports; it's a fundamental way of ensuring the sustainability of your business.
A culture of IT efficiency is one where your IT department and those in core leadership positions understand the importance of balancing the customer experience and your IT expenditure. The goal of improving efficiency is not simply to cut costs – instead, it’s to find ways to deliver the same high quality of service while reducing the financial and maintenance burdens your teams face.
You can achieve stakeholder buy-in for these ideas by focusing on how increasing IT efficiency aligns with organizational goals. For example, customers will benefit from better performance, faster roll-out of new features, and even potentially lower pricing. Your teams will benefit by having the chance to develop their skills while becoming more productive thanks to improved ways of working.
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How can SaaS companies measure IT efficiency gains?
SaaS companies can measure IT efficiency gains by considering metrics such as downtime, server utilization, cost of operation, and response times. Reducing costs while maintaining performance indicates an increase in efficiency.
What role does customer experience play in IT efficiency?
The customer experience must be maintained through any changes aimed at increasing IT efficiency. Any digital transformation that reduces customer satisfaction would likely cost money in lost customers in the long term.
How often should IT efficiency be re-evaluated in a SaaS model?
Traditional IT-related performance metrics still apply to SaaS organizations. However, other metrics, including churn rates, customer lifetime values, and customer satisfaction scores, can offer insight into how changes have affected customer satisfaction.