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Three critical hybrid work considerations for IT pros in SMEs

Seismic shifts in how we work, collaborate, and communicate in the past year have amplified the need to adopt new tools and technologies, especially for small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs). Since the lockdowns began, over 64% of SMEs have successfully adapted by onboarding new technologies to change how they do business and support a decentralised workforce. And as we enter the post-pandemic era, it is predicted that the pace of adoption will only accelerate as more SMEs reconfigure operations for the shift to hybrid work

Meanwhile, IT pros face the daunting prospect of maintaining a growing stack of applications, systems, and solutions needed for the hybrid shift. How can they do this while exercising control over increasing cost, complexity, and workloads? Here are three areas IT teams in SMEs should focus on if they intend to get ahead of the curve. 

1. Conduct constant re-evaluations of your tech stack 

The topography of your business network probably looks different than it did a year or even a week ago. As the hybrid workforce begins to return to the office periodically, IT teams will find themselves managing both virtual and physicalenvironments, which means an expanded list of solutions to track, protect, and maintain. 

It’s critical for IT pros to continually evaluate their tech portfolio and find opportunities to improve how they’re leveraging their tools. When reviewing your technologies, ask: 

  • Is a tool or technology addressing the need it was intended for? If no, why not? 
  • Has the solution been widely adopted by the business? If not, how can this be improved to drive value?
  • Should this tool or technology go offline, what would the impact be? 
  • Are there opportunities to consolidate any of our existing tools? Or could there be a more affordable alternative to help us achieve our goals? 

These questions should indicate whether components of your network are worth keeping or should be replaced and retired. Asking these same questions during an evaluation before purchasing or implementing new tools and technologies will also help keep network sprawl under control.

2. Establish round-the-clock network monitoring

As the hybrid workforce becomes more geographically dispersed, it’s more critical than ever before to keep tabs on network health—ensuring no bottlenecks or failures are impacting network performance, lowering workforce productivity, and frustrating end-users. 

It’s not enough to just implement solutions—as users’ dependence on digital resources grows, it’s crucial to maintain high availability. If key resources aren’t working, it’s important to have tools to help you uncover the root cause. Implement a suite of robust network monitoring solutions designed to scale as your organization changes and grows. Look for something with automated performance monitoring, network analysis, and logging capabilities, which allow you to proactively spot issues or anomalies before they affect your business network. 

3. Look to adopt and provide self-service ITSM capabilities 

Consistent evaluations of your tech stack, along with monitoring of your business networks, provide insight into the common technical issues faced by the hybrid workforce. Using this information, IT pros can build a broad knowledge base and publish documentation on a self-service portal to help users troubleshoot common issues on their own. 

This approach can offer several benefits. A centralized knowledge on the service portal can lead to case deflection enabling IT to focus on bigger projects. Embracing a self-service mentality can also help IT helpdesks pivot to service desks that measure success based on service quality, performance, and user satisfaction rather than the number of tickets closed. With employees working remotely, teams’ success criteria have shifted in an effort to support creating meaningful engagements and delivering user-focused services. 

Taken together, these steps would allow SMEs and their IT teams to ensure a sustainable and cost-efficient runway to onboarding additional solutions or technologies to make for a more seamless transition to hybrid work. And after the past year of whirlwind deployments and implementations, it gives IT teams a rare opportunity to dictate the pace of future tech rollouts in a more thoughtful and proactive fashion. 

Read more: Seven key learnings from 2021 that are shaping the digital road ahead

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Liz Beavers

Liz Beavers

Liz Beavers is a Head Geek™ at SolarWinds. Prior to her current role, Liz served as the technical point of contact for SolarWinds® Service Desk customers, where she combined her serious public speaking skills, her ability to relate with customers, and her multiple ITIL certifications to provide ITSM best practices that streamlined and elevated service desk operations.

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