Just over the last few months, we’ve seen several reports confirm two new(ish) truths. First, the SaaS explosion has accelerated the threats against your cloud-based environment. And as a result, business leaders around the world agree that IT needs to be less reactive and more strategic.
We’ve heard a lot of people echo the latter of those truths, that IT leaders must embed their teams (and SaaSOps principles) into the business. But what do we mean when we say that IT should be embedded into the fabric of an organization? And more importantly, how do we accomplish it?
To answer these questions, I went down a really deep internet rabbit hole. And when I came up for air, I chatted with a few IT folks here at BetterCloud. Here’s what I learned.
IT’s evolving role in enabling a business to win
Today, IT plays a huge role in identifying the right technologies and processes to help the entire business win. Or, at least it needs to.
Last month, Indeed published a career guide that explains what an IT technician does. Take a peek here. You’ll notice that many of the responsibilities they outlined are very reactive. One bullet point even says that you’ll “provide technical support and training to employees.”
Sound reductive? It probably does to any SaaSOps pro reading this, but in some ways, it’s still (unfortunately) fairly accurate.
Our CIO Tommy Donnelly recently told us that IT teams typically sit around waiting for tickets without understanding the context around why they’re solving those issues. He and several other experts believe this needs to change. Kate Smaje, a senior partner at McKinsey & Company, recently wrote that “winning businesses” are leveraging technology and data to make faster and bolder decisions.
Makes sense, right? But how can IT play a leading role in enabling employees to make those types of decisions? Based on the conversations I had with experts at BetterCloud, there are two keys to embedding IT and SaaSOps into any business:
- IT needs to empathize with and remove obstacles for employees
- IT needs a crystal-clear picture of the SaaS applications employees are using—and which applications they should be using
Both of these keys have one thing in common: They require IT leaders to talk to stakeholders across the organization.
Understanding each department’s unique challenges
If you really wanted to, I bet that you could find a way to use machine learning to identify each department’s biggest challenges and improve their most critical processes. At the same time, it’s much easier to just talk to the people on those teams. It’s also far more effective.
Brian Farrell is a senior IT manager here at BetterCloud. Aside from shadowing how everyone at your company uses SaaS, Farrell says there are two things IT can do to embed itself into every aspect of the business:
- Schedule recurring 1-on-1 meetings with department heads. Farrell says that while these meetings don’t need to be very long, they should happen regularly. “Ask questions about how they’re tackling their most critical projects,” he adds. “If there is a tool or process that would make their work easier, don’t be shy about making suggestions.”
- Attend departmental meetings regularly. Unlike your meetings with department heads, Farrell says that IT should act as more of a fly on the wall during departmental meetings. “You won’t be able to take action on everything you hear during a marketing or sales meeting,” Farrell adds. “But you will almost always walk away with some new insight into how people work and the challenges they run into.”
See? Nothing too difficult, right? As simple as these tips may seem, folks across the IT organization at BetterCloud agree that creating this cadence of meetings is a critical step in becoming a true partner to every department across your company.
But beyond talking to people at your company, what else can IT do to embed itself into the business? Spoiler: You should know which SaaS applications folks are using and why they’re using them. Let’s discuss.
Discovering the tools that people use daily
You’ve probably heard us discuss the importance of discovering the SaaS applications in your cloud-based environment from a security standpoint. But in my conversation with Farrell, he said that a true IT partner knows which tools each team relies on—and that’s where BetterCloud Discover comes into the picture.
In the GIF above, we’re using the tool to identify unsanctioned and potentially risky applications. But in addition to securing your SaaS environment, Farrell says that IT can leverage Discover strategically to paint a clearer picture of the types of applications your employees need. More importantly, he says that this data makes it easier for IT to make recommendations to teams across the business.
“You can look at apps and say, ‘Wow, a lot of people in sales are using this time-tracking tool that we didn’t know about,’” Farrell continues. “We should talk to a sales leader to learn more about how they’re using it. And in many cases, we work together to identify a better or more secure option.”
This resonated with me as a layperson who has been on the receiving end of “strategic” suggestions from IT folks at previous employers. I’ve lost count of the shifts in tooling or processes that were implemented on my team’s behalf because, well, that’s just how business is done.
But as SaaS (and SaaSOps) continues to accelerate, it’s abundantly clear that IT can’t implement meaningful change by sending out a few company-wide emails about new processes, tools, or technologies. IT should (and already is) thinking critically about every employee’s biggest obstacles and empathizing with those challenges. And while partnerships with every department across your organization will take time to foster, that empathy and partnership-mentality are critical to truly embedding IT and SaaSOps into all aspects of your business.
Want to learn more about how BetterCloud can help you embed IT and SaaSOps into your business? Schedule a demo here.