There was a time when IT (Information Technology) was a naturally centralized function. Information technology experts made decisions about everything from the phone on your desk to the screensaver on your computer. They controlled budgets, conducted troubleshooting, and served as the “buck stops here” department for all things tech.

If you work at a modern business today, you know this is rarely the case anymore. Read on to learn about the best practices for Cloud-first IT in 2019.

How SaaS is Changing IT Management

The growth of software as a service (SaaS), by its nature, has yanked control out from underneath IT teams. Now, anyone can download a new piece of software or open a web app and get to work. If a developer wants to try a new infrastructure tool or a sales associate needs a more robust method to manage customer contacts, there’s a plethora of options out there, and employees can make their own choices based on their unique, ever-shifting needs. This often means that better tools are being chosen because the people who actually use them are making the decisions. But it also means that IT team members in a cloud-first business have less visibility into what is going on. Stakeholders outside the department are ingrained in decision-making, forcing IT to quickly become a collaborative environment.

IT Approaches Divided Into Quadrants

Informal IT

At smaller organizations, the tendency is to naturally fall into a chaotic and informal approach. IT is handled on an ad-hoc basis. Need a new tool? Boom, here’s the company credit card. Want to add a team member to an existing tool? No problem, let’s do it!

While this is a flexible approach, it creates problems as a company grows. Spending can rapidly get out of control as team leaders purchase new (and possibly redundant) tools and seats. Information gets siloed into each team (Marketing uses Asana. Engineering uses Trello. Neither can see what the other is doing.) preventing collaboration and vendor management.

Command & Control IT

At larger organizations, the tendency has been to continually try to centralize and re-centralize IT functions. This can mean dictating which apps and technologies are permitted, tightly controlling budgets, and gatekeeping access and permissions.

The problem is that doing this can feel like trying to pull your feet out of quicksand. In many ways, it’s a losing battle. Bring your own device policies (BYOD) and shadow IT make it easy for employees to subvert and work around the rules. Even when IT manages to successfully control SaaS usage across a business, it often results in resentment and lowered productivity.

Collaborative IT

Overly centralized and authoritarian IT practices can handicap your team’s ability to be competitive and successful in today’s fast-paced climate. IT should serve as a facilitator, rather than an obstacle. For this reason, business leaders are increasingly taking the reins on technology decisions.

Given the trends outlined above, it’s clear that many businesses have some work to do to achieve a IT management system that works for them—one that balances choice and oversight. To move forward, you will need to assess where you are on the IT continuum today, scrutinize your current practices, and determine a plan of action to achieve a more successful, integrated IT program at your business.

But what does a successful, integrated, cloud-first IT strategy look like in 2019? It brings in stakeholders from across the company. It provides flexibility to teams and visibility to management and IT. It stays within budget and it meets security and compliance goals. And to achieve all of that, the IT strategy you implement now needs to be Collaborative IT.

Chart of IT Strategic Approaches

Getting to Collaborative IT

Whether you are on the formal or informal end of the IT spectrum, if you are interested in moving toward a more collaborative model, it will take some strategic effort. Here’s a straightforward three-step process to make it happen at your organization:

Step One: Know Your Stakeholders

When you get started building a Collaborative IT program at your organization, you want to make sure that you understand everyone who is involved in the process of SaaS management and how.

We suggest you sit down with team leaders from each of your departments and examine where this chart applies to your organization and where you differ, then put together your own chart that clearly outlines the roles and responsibilities with respect to SaaS—both today and in an ideal future state. If certain roles do not exist yet at your company, decide who will own various SaaS responsibilities until your organization grows.

Doing so will help you identify areas where there may be blockages or disconnects between teams and where you may be able to make choices that ultimately lead your organization to become more collaborative when it comes to IT management. You can annotate what responsibilities each role owns today and how that will change as you implement a more collaborative approach to IT.

Step Two: Adopt The Right Technology

For many organizations, the biggest thing standing between them and Collaborative IT is a lack of tools that facilitate this change. That’s why we built Blissfully. Our goal is twofold: to provide more visibility into SaaS usage (from spend to security and beyond) and to facilitate seamless SaaS workflows across different roles within the organization.

Step Three: Implement Cultural Changes

Finally, once you have determined your ideal breakdown of SaaS roles and responsibilities and adopted the appropriate technology, it’s time to implement the cultural changes that will make Collaborative IT a reality at your organization.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to get buy-in across the organization. Use your matrix to show team leaders how this will work, and make sure they understand the benefits of Collaborative IT. Then, bring in individual team members across the entire business. A brown-bag lunch could be a good time to sit them down and explain that this new process will give them the creative license they need to choose tools they love to use while still allowing leadership to understand what is going on in the organization.

Next, use your SaaS management tool to develop and implement key IT processes. These should be led by people and supported by technology. Processes you will likely need to integrate include: onboarding and offboarding, vendor contracts and approvals, budgeting, and, security workflows, all of which also goes into establishing a compliance system of record.

Finally, hold regular check-ins to make sure your Collaborative IT efforts are achieving the intended goals. We suggest holding these on a quarterly basis, and including the team leaders identified in your stakeholders map so that they can represent the needs and interests of their own teams.

Ready To Change Your Approach?

Like many aspects of running a business, a Collaborative IT program should be a continual process of testing and refinement. Always, your end goal should be to empower employees to get work done the way that best suits them while maintaining the security, visibility, and oversight your organization needs to succeed. A complete SaaS management platform like Blissfully can automate many of the tasks and workflow management recommendations described above. Try Blissfully free today.

And for more information, download our full guide about Collaborative IT.