During the COVID-19 pandemic, most companies scrambled to make working with a dispersed workforce more manageable. From Zoom to Skype to Google Workspace and Microsoft 365, businesses adopted solutions that made working from home more seamless. For many companies, however, this rapid adoption created a patchwork of solutions, which can cause IT departments and end users headaches and setbacks.
Of course, patchwork IT has been around long before the COVID-19 pandemic. We typically see patchwork solutions during mergers and acquisitions when one company uses a set of applications and productivity suites and the other company uses another. Together, they must make this mismatched group of solutions work.
Resolving patchwork IT is not an easy feat. It requires careful planning, thought and execution. However, by following these next steps, MSPs and IT professionals can seamlessly resolve patchwork systems for companies.
Look at patchwork IT holistically
Every IT situation has advantages and disadvantages. For patchwork IT, the cons often outweigh the pros. One of the advantages of a patchwork of solutions is that you can choose the “best of the best” to address your operational needs. However, this tactic usually leads to a scenario where solutions cannot communicate with others.
For example, you could have Cisco firewalls, routers and VPNs while also using VMware. This might not be such a bad thing, but the solutions don’t necessarily talk to each other. And each one has different management consoles.
Consolidating solutions adds functionality and makes them easier to manage. By optimizing patchwork systems, companies can smooth out operations, avoid end-user confusion and save money on redundancies.
Consolidation is key
Resolving patchwork IT often means consolidation. To consolidate properly, MSPs and IT departments should consider these steps:
- Assess: First, companies should assess their internal and external needs to determine which platforms and applications they need. For example, if cloud-based document collaboration is essential, companies may consider using Google Workspace or Microsoft 365. Assessing your operational requirements lets you identify which solutions you need and which you can live without.
- Identify: Pinpoint which solutions aren’t serving operations or have become redundant. For example, a company may have adopted Skype during the pandemic, then realized internal teams only use Zoom and Microsoft Teams for video calls. Eliminating Skype frees up space for other essential applications.
- Execute: When it’s time to consolidate, you need the right tools to ensure solutions are properly eliminated, migrated and stored to avoid headaches and lost data. Using the right migration tool can ensure you move your data safely and effectively.
Migrating to resolve patchwork IT
Before a migration, you should consider a few factors. Do you have a full picture of what data and solutions need to be moved? What volume of data needs to be migrated? Where does it need to be moved? Do you have a migration tool that can effectively handle this project?
Stakeholder feedback is also essential. You want to ensure everyone is on board with the changes following a migration. For example, if companies involved in an M&A need to choose between Google Workspace and Microsoft 365, get input from employees to determine which solution works best for them.
Completing a migration without consulting stakeholders risks confusion and operational setbacks. Employees may have to learn how to use new systems, which can lead to frustration and disruption in productivity. This is why companies should always deploy change management and ensure end users have the necessary resources and training to use the new solutions once the patchwork environment is resolved.
Finally, with any migration, you always want to mitigate risks. One way to do this is to use the right migration tool. To ensure all your data and information are moved properly, deploy a migration tool built to meet the size, timeline and specifics of the migration. This prevents setbacks and allows for a seamless migration. As a result, companies won’t have to worry about lost data or the migration failing, allowing end users to access their mail and documents in their new locations.
Avoiding patchwork IT in the future
Once a patchwork of solutions is resolved, it’s important to prevent it from reoccurring. To do this, MSPs and IT professionals should consider what we call the Five Pillars of Workplace Maturity:
- Cloud Office: Upgrading to the cloud enables companies to keep applications consolidated. Cloud computing unlocks centralized employee access and improves security and data storage and backup. This drives operational efficiencies and cost savings across an organization.
- Content Services: Disorganized files are a common pain point for end users of patchwork systems. By digitizing files and operations, companies can reduce physical paperwork and employee frustration as they search for essential documents. With content services, employees can access documents from anywhere, saving time, money and resources.
- Hyperautomation: Leverage tools that support hyperautomation so employees can reallocate time to more critical tasks. Hyperautomation can optimize employee processes and create space for more engaging work, reducing risk and increasing productivity.
- Unified Communication and Collaboration: One of the main causes of patchwork IT is having different tools that do the same thing. Deciding between multiple tools can make teams less productive. If employees are experiencing these pain points, you need communication, collaboration and conference tools to ensure employees are productive, engaged and communicative in real time.
- Emerging Applications and Technology: New technology can help you leave legacy infrastructure and modernize your application stack. With emerging applications and technology, you can ensure your organization and employees are agile in the face of disruptions and fully prepared for the future of work.
Facing patchwork IT head-on
Nearly half of IT leaders (48%) said their company planned to do a significant IT upgrade to streamline patchwork systems within the next year. Almost a third (29%) were already in the midst of a migration.
Now is the time to address your patchwork IT problems. By following the steps outlined above, you can resolve your patchwork system and prevent it from reoccurring in the future, creating smoother operations and end-user productivity to keep your business thriving.
By Stacey Farrar, product marketing manager at BitTitan, and Christopher Chesley, North American digital workplace growth leader at SoftwareOne