IT optimization is a set of steps implemented by a company to improve operations, reduce costs and streamline activities. IT optimization can be implemented at any time.
However, any company in the process of restructuring (i.e. mergers and acquisitions) should take the opportunity to assess its assets and optimize IT functions.
Opportunities for technology optimization include:
The benefits of IT optimization are numerous. Strategic IT optimization and management allow organizations to keep pace with growing business demands.
Technology optimization helps support the ongoing success of the core business, reduces costs, speeds up or automates processes, and boosts productivity. Information technology optimization is important for organizations of all sizes and in all stages of growth.
The main benefits of IT optimization are:
There are several challenges to IT optimization. The most common ones are lack of resources, workload, the rise of remote work, and lack of visibility between different areas of IT.
Organizations may not understand the value of optimizing their IT infrastructure if they don’t already run on lean or agile principles.
A strong strategy is vital to the success of any IT optimization process. The goal is to guarantee this process is not repeated and to set up the frameworks to run lean.
This is an effort that takes more than 6 months to complete. Once IT establishes the strategy, companies can begin the optimization with the right targets and set of tools.
Before any hands-on work can begin, IT architects and strategists must define the desired IT optimization outcome and timeline of the project. This involves meeting with the correct stakeholders to produce a plan.
This plan will determine the amount of time and resources needed to achieve a successful IT optimization. During this phase the needs of the organization are defined; including processes, software upgrades, new tech, and cloud migrations.
Assessing the current IT state is a key part of IT optimization. IT assessments are done to identify gaps in the current technology and highlight any risks. Assessments can be completed in all areas of the IT landscape.
All hardware comes with an expiration date. Keeping a checklist of company infrastructures, such as servers, networks, and storage – will make assessing their worth easier.
Including devices or end-user computing such as printers, laptops, desktops, smartphones, etc.
Technology is rapidly evolving all the time, so many of these assets can age quickly or be obsolete/low-value.
Assets that are no longer useful to the company can be sold or optimized. At the same time, data centers and storage can be moved to the cloud for usage-based pricing.
Application inventory, especially SaaS became a vital part of IT – but it can be a strain on resources if not properly managed and accounted for.
SaaS services are prone to be purchased without approval and unknown within the wider company. So-called shadow IT can be identified using SaaS management platforms.
Other areas of IT that should be assessed are data centers, subscriptions and memberships, outsourcing, shared services, and employee headcount.
All of these can be a strain on company resources over time if not efficiently assessed and optimized.
After the current state of IT has been determined, the next step is to map the technology to business capabilities or business processes. The aim of this step is to identify gaps and redundancies, improve value flow, and highlight inefficiencies within business units.
Business capability maps provide IT experts with a visual overview of their business and technology architecture. With these maps you can make informed decisions on how to optimize business units to reach the desired future IT state.
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Organizations should then rationalize their technology. This is done by standardizing technology interfaces and technology portfolios. The consolidation of systems instantly creates a leaner and more cost-effective IT infrastructure.
It is important to note that rationalizing an organization’s entire IT infrastructure at the same time can pose risks, induce costs and create inefficiencies. As a result, IT rationalization must be completed in manageable chunks.
The main areas where IT rationalization can be implemented are applications, hardware, services, and IT projects.
By streamlining and rationalizing applications, organizations can improve efficiency, reduce complexity, and lower the total cost of ownership (TCO) for all applications.
Application rationalization is a process that will highlight redundant applications, and non-compliant applications, and shadow IT. This sets the basis for other cost-saving endeavors.
The LeanIX EAM's application portfolio management module and SaaS discovery feature, allow organizations to find all applications and their business values. Therefore, it enables customers to use applications solely based on the positive effect they have on the business.
The platform also allows you to balance the value and cost of all existing applications and monitor their value over time.
By removing unused or out-of-date of date hardware, businesses can avoid paying annual server fees and storage expenses.
IT hardware elimination is a straightforward way of cutting costs and freeing up time to research and implement more cutting-edge and useful technology. The kinds of end-user hardware found in workplaces include:
All of these can be upgraded, eliminated, or optimized. Hardware rationalization may include removing unused desktop monitors, landlines, or printers.
Removing irrelevant IT hardware (like a fax machine, for example) will also free up space for new systems with higher business value.
Large companies rely on a lot of outsourcing, and those shared services can rapidly reduce costs. All service level agreements (SLA) can be assessed to discover which IT services can be scaled back or eliminated for some period.
These services include help desks, call centers, maintenance services, or contract workers. SLA optimization includes:
Review all current and planned IT projects. The complexity of IT projects and the various departments involved can cause confusing overlaps or redundant workloads.
Eliminating, removing, or adapting projects can save organizations huge amounts of resources. A business capability map can help businesses discover which projects can be prioritized or postponed based on their proposed value. Categorize each project by:
Optimizing a company’s enterprise architecture will build a lean portfolio and benefit the entire organization’s business process. IT modernization is key to growth, as businesses must adapt to advances in technology so to stay competitive.
Architecture optimization is based on the application of three principles: Virtualization, Automation, and Consolidation.
Adapting infrastructure so it becomes more agile is a key part of IT optimization. All infrastructure assets can be optimized to meet current and future business growth. Some examples of virtualization include:
The result is a virtualized, modern data center that can maximize performance, scalability, and flexibility to support the business over time.
Enterprise architecture and ITAM (IT asset management) are disciplines that help organizations automate and modernize all IT assets. Enterprise architecture aligns technology with business processes to create solutions that meet business goals.
EA leverages application portfolio management and business capability mapping to highlight areas of improvement and automate necessary systems and processes. Consistent application performance management (APM) such as this is an important aspect of lean IT optimization.
ITAM is a similar discipline that keeps account of technology asset lifecycle costs and risks to maximize business value. It keeps track of all hardware and software used to run business activities.
If any of these assets are not used, they can be flagged, removed, or upgraded. Businesses can benefit hugely from both EA and ITAM.
To benefit from a robust IT infrastructure, all data centers, applications, and systems must be consolidated. Knowing exactly where resources are being spent, it will make the process of improving systems simple and more effective.
By adopting cloud computing, businesses can provide access to their platforms, services, and tools from any device connected to the internet.
Companies don’t have to spend large amounts on purchasing and maintaining technical equipment or hiring large IT teams. They can use that money elsewhere.
These services also require less in-house maintenance and come with advanced protections like encryptions, access control, and layered authentication modules to protect customer data.
Furthermore, organizations can retain their competitive edge through regular upgrades and developments.
Final review is important to know how successful the applied IT optimization strategy was. Track and follow up on efforts by regularly revisiting changes and by tracking IT costs and data.
This will help determine if the strategy worked in targeted areas and which areas may need to be revised in the future.
If the optimization efforts were successful, large-scale optimizations won't be necessary as IT should now run leaner than before.
While IT optimization might seem complex, the process uses logical steps based on lean principles to streamline operations, save costs and boost productivity.
This creates a robust IT foundation that requires less maintenance, less complexity, better integration, and less cost. From here on, any future IT cost optimization or cost reduction initiatives will become easier to achieve.
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