Show Menu

Better Information Technology Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


Written as a New Year's Resolution List. However, these rules should be applied for any IT shop as standard business policy and practice.

1: Improve listening skills

Try as it might, IT is fundam­entally an engine­ering discip­line. IT'ers like to focus on things and on words that are spoken or written at face value. Sometimes, though, critical listening kicks in and benefits everyone when IT'ers can "hear between the lines,­" whether it's detecting someone's frustr­ation or catching the expression of a hidden wish that the system could do something better. Listening skills continue to be a develo­pmental area for IT.

2: Don't be arrogant

It's easy to dismiss a non-IT person's idea if it isn't techni­cally feasible, but sometimes there's a useful gem buried in the sugges­tion. Even if there isn't, patience and respect for others' input can go a long way toward dispelling IT's reputation for sometimes being arrogant and aloof.

3: Avoid using acronyms

Unless you're surrounded by a group of techies who use acronyms day-in and day-out, it is a good idea to keep acronyms out of conver­sat­ions. They get in the way of clear commun­ica­tions.

4: Kick the tires on new techno­logies

Despite the number of IT depart­ments that say they are "­leading edge," more than 50% of IT work is spent on system mainte­nance. At the end of the day, there is very little budget or staff time left to explore new techno­logies that could be benefit the company in the future. Don't let this stop you. There are plenty of vendors out there that would welcome giving you a test drive of what they've got to offer—and to show you how it could potent­ially pay off for your compan­y—even if you're not immedi­ately planning to buy.

5: Develop strategies to reduce system mainte­nance

Even though system mainte­nance consumes such a large amount of the average IT depart­ment's time, few of them have an active strategy for it. Whether it's outsou­rcing applic­ations to the cloud, improving quality assurance so applic­ations fail less, or assessing the breakage levels of applic­ations and replacing high-b­reakage apps, IT depart­ments need to get on top of this area so they can free more staff to work on new projects.

6: Implement green IT in asset management

IT has already attacked data center carbon footprints by reducing the numbers of physical servers and storage device­s/c­abi­nets, replacing them with virtual counte­rparts. But there's still more to be done for green IT. A prime area is asset manage­ment, which uses software to track IT hardware and software assets both inside and outside the data center. If asset management software is implem­ented to track asset use—and then identifies assets that are barely or no longer being used—IT can redeploy these assets or get rid of them. Another asset management area is building facilities and office space, a major energy consum­ption and expense item for enterp­rises. Many companies have been successful at saving money and promoting corpor­ate­-wide green initia­tives when they've used their IT asset management software to track facilities utiliz­ation.

7: Commit to staff training and develo­pment

The first area to go with budget cuts is IT staff training and develo­pment. But with the advent of so many new techno­logies and projects, IT can scarcely afford to endure learning curves on every missio­n-c­ritical project. If necessary, the CIO should be talking to the board and the CEO about the importance of investing in key IT personnel by offering proactive technology education and career growth paths. This encourages the most valuable IT contri­butors to stay with the company for the long haul.

8: Employ end users in QA

Quality assurance is an oft-ne­glected area in IT. Its task is to check out applic­ations for conformity to technical and functional requir­ements, but what is missing in the QA process is an app checkout that evaluates the applic­ation's fit with the business process it's being inserted into—as well as the user experience and user-f­rie­ndl­iness of the applic­ation. The best people to do the user-o­riented checkouts are the end users themse­lves. This also engages users actively in the process of testing a new applic­ation and helps ensure their buy-in to the app.

9: Update your DR (Disaster Recovery) plan

IT continues to place regularly testing and updating disaster recovery plans on the back burner, due to the many projects and user requests that constantly flood the IT workload. Nevert­heless, those who have actually been through a disaster will attest that there is no document more singularly important than the DR plan when things go wrong. A poor disaster recovery effort can harm a company's business reputation for the long term—and it can also affect the jobs and careers of those who were supposed to be in charge of assuring that the company could meet any disastrous circum­stance it faced.

10: Revisit your data retention policies

The big data age has swamped enterp­rises with more data than ever before, but not all of it is useful. Although it can be among the most dreaded of tasks, make it a point to revisit corporate data retention policies with business units across the enterprise on an annual basis.