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What do you think the most common time-wasters are in IT? You’d be surprised: it’s not always your printer fleet or most recently-written piece of script. Instead, the areas that most commonly create inefficiency in your department are related to your internal processes and procedures. Luckily, these are also some of the easiest to fix.

On Tuesday, we introduced you to three areas where inefficiencies may be hiding in your IT department. Today, we’re going to dive deeper into some of the underlying issues that cause inefficiency on a department-wide basis. Two are related to management and team communication, while one is a sneaky issue hiding within your devices. Take a look:

The lack of a shared language

When your IT department lacks an internal vocabulary for what you do, you waste precious time having to communicate and re-communicate messages—leading to department-wide confusion and frustration. Instead, get everyone in your department on the same page by adopting and defining a common terminology that encapsulates your business policies, values, processes and procedures. Then, make sure your definitions are well-understood: hold department-wide trainings to review definitions of key phrases and get feedback. Your whole team will be in a much better place the next time a project needs to come together quickly.

Improperly-set expectations

When you don’t have goals and expectations for your department, you can’t expect its members to work efficiently: they don’t know what they’re working toward! In order to motivate and mobilize your team to work harder, communicate clear, department-wide goals.

In order for this to work, however, your goals need to be realistic, strategy-driven, quantifiable and clearly-communicated. Everyone on the team should be able to “buy in” to your plans; what’s more, they should understand their role in making your goal a reality. Take the time to talk to employees about why they’re doing what they’re doing and how it helps. Once they understanding the underlying logic, they’ll have more reason to do their jobs more efficiently.

Unaligned devices

Sometimes, your processes just work. You may be doing everything you can to ensure your department is at the top of its game, but something still isn’t working. What’s the most common “something” that isn’t pulling its weight? Your device fleet.

When you have a fleet of devices—whether they’re printers, copiers, servers or telephones—that don’t communicate well together, your department must constantly monitor these connections and fix problems as they occur. This takes significant time away from “proactive” IT and reduces your efficiency. If you think this may be a problem for your IT department, it’s an easy (but expensive) fix: you need to invest in a new device fleet.

When you invest in a new fleet of devices that work together naturally, as opposed to a Frankensteined-together fleet created over time—you set your department up for long-term efficiency and success. When your devices work the way they’re supposed to, it frees up your team to concentrate on your strategic goals and objectives.

If you need to make a big purchase like a new printer fleet, you need to come to your CEO with a proposal that expresses your current value and how such a purchase would help you increase it. But what are the best ways to communicate the value of your current operations and the potential ROI of what you’re looking to achieve? Next week, we’ll be talking about how you can translate your IT department’s efficiency and value to the company into your metrics report. Stay tuned!

By the way: do you know how much you're spending on print? It may be more than you think. Download our eBook, 10 Steps to Finding Your True Printing Costs, to uncover the truth.

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Photo Credit: A Healthier Michigan via Flickr Creative Commons 2.0

cost reduction IT efficiency