Jul 20, 2023

5 Quick Wins for new IT Managers | Expert Series

5 Quick Wins for new IT Managers | Expert Series

Table of contents

The IT manager plays a critical role in any company. As the CTO’s operational right-hand, they must focus on delivering value both up the chain of command and down to the rest of the organization. Can there be a formula for success when no two organizations are the same? We sat down with Lunchbox Director of Information Technology, Gian Luca D’Intino-Conte, to find out.

When is it time to hire the first IT manager?

According to Gian Luca, organizations should start to think about hiring a dedicated IT manager only when the extra workload of managing IT tools, processes, and security starts to prevent team members from delivering on their core value. This often happens at around 100 employees or when an organization experiences or predicts rapid growth.

Once the number of employees reaches around 100, organizations begin to encounter SaaS sprawl, which has implications for both security and finance. In terms of security, it becomes more challenging to manage and secure the various SaaS tools being used,

says Gian Luca.

On the financial side, the costs associated with acquiring multiple tools start to become significant.

So where should the IT manager begin?

Five quick wins

1. Get a full overview of the SaaS landscape

Gaining “situational awareness” is the first critical step. This means understanding what applications are being used that the organization has contracts for, how much is being paid for licenses, and what integrations are available. There are tools today that can help by scanning an organization’s IT environment and presenting a list of all applications currently in use, along with the employees who are using them.

The key is to understand not just what tools are at the organization’s disposal, but also how they are actually being used. That’s the first step toward automating more processes, simplifying workflows, and integrating data for better operational outcomes.

It becomes very important to see how tools are actively being used — identifying whether it is simply the most effective approach for this team or a gap in awareness regarding the capabilities of certain tools — and then to configure integrations and automate processes as a function of your findings,

says Gian Luca.

2. Implement a traceable ticketing process

In many startups, IT requests are handled via a Slack channel. But this process lacks traceability and is often too informal.

Scrolling through Slack threads is a nightmare, so one of the first things I need, for my own sanity, is to have some form of ticketing solution. It allows me to stay on track, not lose requests, and make sure that I understand the urgency and impact of the request,

explains Gian Luca.

At the very least, I like to ask the questions ‘Is this urgent?’ ‘Is next day OK?’ and ‘Is this impacting the whole organization or just you?’ This helps me stay on top of my priorities for the company and build a culture around it. If everything is urgent, then nothing is.

Ticketing doesn’t just help to centralize and coordinate access requests. It can also generate invaluable insight into what users are asking for most, and therefore enable you to prioritize the processes that should be automated first.

By seeing those trends, I can then focus on how many of these tickets I can completely eradicate by building an integration or an automation to do it,

says Gian Luca.

3. Help internal stakeholders build automated workflows

Early on in your tenure as IT manager, it makes sense to meet key stakeholders in each part of the business, to explain how you can offer value by adopting certain tools and/or taking some basic tasks away via automation. Removing stakeholders’ need to do basic tasks helps to build trust in IT and will smooth the path to user acceptance of future recommendations.

Once the SaaS landscape has been understood, and I have a way to funnel requests coming to me, is when I want to start focusing on driving value for the rest of the organization,

Gian Luca explains.

We have to empower teams to go further with less. It’s not a question of just having this for cost savings.

Automating access management is a key area where the IT manager can add value in this way.

4. Automate access management

Access-related tickets are usually among the highest-volume tickets an early-stage IT manager will see coming in. That makes automating access management an obvious quick win. This is especially important for organizations experiencing high growth and/or with a high turnover rate for interns, contractors, and others. Deferring user provisioning until new team members have joined will only lead to an avalanche of support tickets further down the road.

Having a centralized identity and access management [IAM] platform becomes the only way to really drive efficient growth of your IAM practice — managing the whole user lifecycle from onboarding to role changes to offboarding,

says Gian Luca.

Every minute I can get back is highly valuable.

This is where an auto-provisioning tool may also make sense — allowing users to make self-service access requests, enabling single-click onboarding and offboarding within the admin interface, and logging everything centrally for the IT manager.

Rather than chasing down the name of an owner from a spreadsheet somewhere, users know to go to this tool, and for safety and security, we know what’s been granted based on this audit log,

explains Gian Luca.

When this employee exits, the organization has a record of what they had access to, making offboarding much simpler and more secure. So finding ways to systematically handle these types of requests makes them a lot easier to manage.

5. Take control of SaaS spend

By understanding which apps are in use and who is using them, the IT manager can start to find inefficiencies. It could be unused licenses, licensing costs that should be negotiated down, apps with duplicated functionality, and so on.

I’ve had tremendous success with some software partners in identifying ways that we can change our SaaS stack, reduce our burn rate, and make sure that our software spend is developing a return on investment within the organization,

Gian Luca concludes.

Three books to change the way you work, recommended by Gian Luca

The Phoenix Project (Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, and George Spafford): A novel about IT and DevOps.

The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter (Michael D. Watkins): How to properly structure onboarding within an organization.

How Google Works (Eric Schmidt III and Jonathan Rosenberg): How work happens at the tech giant.