5 IT goals for your team when they free up time through automation

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Your IT team has some free time on their hands after automating some of their regular tasks, now what? Here are 5 projects they could tackle right away to increase your organization’s efficiency.

One of the main topics of discussion in our recent MVP panel, “The evolution of IT,” was how automation could free up time for IT.

Instead of constantly putting out fires, teams could leverage automation—for example, through ShareGate’s features—to run daily tasks and focus on strategic IT goals and value-add projects. As Microsoft MVP Marc D. Anderson said:

“That’s when you get into the magic stuff that’s at the higher end of the maturity scale.”

But what would this “magic stuff” be? What should IT teams do with the time they’ve freed up with automation? We asked some of our Microsoft MVP partners to point out ways IT can improve their organizations’ efficiency, providing high-quality support and innovation.

1. Work with other teams to leverage data

Organizing and making sense of all the information generated by people and tools is crucial to any business. However, when you’re busy dealing with day-to-day tasks, it’s hard to give data the attention it deserves. Now that your IT team freed up some time thanks to automation, they can start making a difference and leverage data more strategically.

According to Microsoft MVP Maarten Eekels, IT could do this by working more closely with other departments and teams to understand their needs and build innovation across the organization. He says:

“IT [needs] to make these processes as efficient as possible to stay ahead of the competition and ahead of the curve.”

Maarten Eekels, Microsoft MVP

There are countless ways to do it with data, with many different outcomes. You could use analytics to, for example, boost financial results, help create the best employee experience, support marketing efforts, improve customer service… the list has no end.

But to achieve any of this, IT and the rest of the organization must see each other as part of the same team. Marc says that we have to get rid of the silos in our organizations:

“I can’t wait for the day when IT stops talking about ‘the business’ and the business stops talking about ‘IT.’ They all work for the same organization. IT has created this separation, but they’re all working on the same goals.”

Marc D. Anderson, Microsoft MVP

By joining forces, the whole organization will succeed.

2. Clean up AD/AAD data

Active Directory (AD) and Azure Active Directory (AAD) data determine which people belong to any particular Microsoft 365 group. When this information is correct, there’s great potential for building and delivering more personalized experiences to end users across the organization.  

You can, for example, surface customizable information (such as navigation links, news, and quick links) that’s relevant to specific groups or users in a SharePoint-based intranet. You can also connect with people through real-time updates on system alerts, personal reminders, and communication such as new emails and group likes. Those are data-driven actions that make for a personalized experience that can boost collaboration, connection, and engagement. 

In many cases, though, this data is wrong, and IT teams don’t have the time to work on it. “No one even tries to get it fixed because they think it’s pointless,” says Marc D. Anderson. Now, if your IT teams have a little more time, they can get into AD and AAD data to set up the foundations for creating more relevant experiences for everyone in Microsoft 365. 

3. Run search analysis

When we reached out to Microsoft MVP Emily Mancini asking how IT can better use their free time, she was quick to answer: search analysis. After all, the things people search for can give you precious insights on how to structure content in your Microsoft 365 environments. Do you know how many searches lead to valid or useful results and how many fail? 

As Emily points out, you can think of failed searches as content opportunities. They’re glimpses into new ways of building your content, whereas a successful and frequent search query means a particular content matters and could use some reviewing. 

Ultimately, IT might not be the ones to do this review, but through search analysis, they’d be enabling owners to create more valuable content and structure things better. Many organizations don’t do this, but with a little more free time thanks to automation, IT can make it happen. 

4. Be on top of updates and communicate them

As you know, the Microsoft ecosystem is super dynamic. New products are launched all the time, while others are improved, incorporated into others, or simply retired. This reality makes it hard for IT to keep track of these updates while they put out fires and handle daily tasks manually.

Once IT frees up some time with automation, Microsoft MVP Jasper Oosterveld recommends they should make it a goal to stay on top of these releases to better understand their relevance and how they can use them at their organization. Depending on the update, they can have a sizeable impact on IT’s work, so it’s essential to be on top of them.

Sometimes, these updates impact how end users work as well. So IT should aim to improve the internal communication process about updates. Being proactive and owning this process is a strategic move that can increase user satisfaction, adoption, and productivity. Here are some of the actions you should include in this communication process:

  • Informing stakeholders about what has changed/will change (and when) 
  • Clarifying how these changes impact people’s work 
  • Being available for further clarification 
  • Setting up training sessions for more substantial updates 

5. Build an internal consulting capability

Ever wondered why people don’t come to you for advice and assistance? Probably (and it happens with many IT departments), they just can’t get your time. 

So, if you manage to get some wiggle room, try and set up a consulting capability for the organization. Be it formal or informal, it should make people comfortable to get in touch during office hours, so you can help them think through technical issues and find solutions for themselves. 

This consulting capability could become, in the words of Marc D. Anderson, “market-sensing,” letting you know what the organization is doing and how IT could fulfill its needs. This way, it goes beyond a helpdesk. “Helpdesks tend to focus on solving immediate problems, which everyone wants them to do, and not longer-term efforts. It’s a different mindset,” says Marc. 

Tools to help you reach IT goals easier and faster

If you’re looking for any tools to help your IT team be more proactive, ShareGate might be what you’re looking for. It’s the out-of-the-box solution to manage Microsoft 365 easily and seamlessly, taking a lot of the burden off your team’s shoulders so they can start pursuing the goals we listed in this article.

Let’s see how ShareGate can help you manage Microsoft 365: 

But don’t take our word for it. Check out how Arkin is using ShareGate to identify unused and orphaned teams 96% faster than before

“Time is money. Because we don’t have to spend as much time keeping the environment tidy, we can do more to help the business.”

Vera Van Es, Arkin

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