The IT landscape is one that's always changing. However, there are a few constants that will always be true. Ultimately, no matter how advanced tomorrow's systems and networks get, they will still be based on the same foundations and principles that have held firm for many years.
Therefore, there are a few key rules for successful IT departments that will be as relevant today as they ever have been. Here are the ten modern commandments of IT management and how they apply to your business.
1. Understand the threats
An adage that's as true now as ever, if you don't understand the full range of threats your IT system faces, you'll never be able to defend against them. Today, it's about more than just guarding the perimeter and locking down access, as this can stifle innovation. Instead, you need to be looking at how to harden each individual asset.
2. Good security is physical as well as virtual
There's no point in spending huge amounts on firewalls and other technical solutions if a thief can simply walk in through the front door and access the server room. But is physical security still relevant in the age of the cloud? Absolutely, but it might not be your own premises you need to protect. Therefore, if you're outsourcing to cloud or colocation providers, getting reassurances in this area is essential.
3. Support matters as much as technology
In the past, many businesses may have stuck to tried and tested solutions provided by the big brands, even if the technology itself wasn't the best fit for their business. This was because there was a clear recognition that a high level of support is just as important as the right solutions, and only the big players could offer that. Today, however, things have changed. While support is still as essential as ever, the open-source community has come a long way, and now offers many of the same advantages as the big players.
4. Testing, testing, testing
Testing is a vital part of any IT project, and maintaining a testing environment alongside development and production remains essential. Where today's business can differ, however, is that this can now be done much more easily in the cloud, where spinning up and utilizing a test environment is often both quicker and more cost-effective.
5. Agile works, formality doesn't
How does good innovation happen? Often, it comes out of informal conversations between developers and business managers, where a problem or request was identified, and the programmer would try things until a good solution was found. Today, this type of agile development still works - a cycle of interaction and iteration - but it's often stifled by formal processes with set ways of working that don't reflect the reality of how innovation works.
6. Keep changes under control
However, some control is a good thing. Growing businesses need new solutions, but this can't be done on an ad-hoc basis. Simply adding code into production environments can quickly result in an unwieldy sprawl, so it's essential that changes are formally tracked and monitored.
7. Integrate everything
Ensuring solutions can effectively communicate with each other is the cornerstone of effective IT, as without it, manually copying data from one system to another is slow, tedious and error-prone. Today's Software-as-a-Service solutions have opened a new front in this, as business managers increasingly bring in their own automation solutions, which IT will have to react to.
8. IT must support the business
While some IT developers may see no issue with constantly tinkering with their tools, adding functionality and making upgrades just because there's something new available, it should never be forgotten that IT exists to support the wider business - so there must be a good reason for everything it does. Technology for technology's sake should be avoided, and doing this requires strong leadership from IT managers.
9. Keep relationships first and foremost
In order to effectively support the business, it's vital that IT managers maintain strong relationships with business units. Today, it's not just about connecting with senior executives, however. The days of companies having very rigid hierarchies are over, while IT is much more closely integrated with every other part of the business. Therefore, IT managers need to make sure they build relationships with people from across their organization.
10. IT drives change - if it's done right
Finally, it's important to remember that IT should not only support the business as it is today, but be a proactive driver of change. No matter what industry a company is in, technology will always offer the biggest opportunities to improve the business. Thanks to agile technologies such as the cloud, better integration with non-IT units, and powerful tools like AI, IT is leading change, not just reacting to it, so it's vital managers are able to recognize this and put plans in place to capitalize.