Whether you’re a business leader at a manufacturing organization or a new manager focused on understanding how IT consolidation can improve your company, understanding the ins and outs of IT consolidation isn’t an easy feat.
In the ever increasingly digital age, if you’re not already investing in IT consolidation, you’re falling behind the times.
Here’s the guide you need to succeed with information on best practices, challenges, steps to an efficient IT consolidation rollout, and strategies to improve.
What is IT Consolidation?
Information technology (IT) consolidation is how data storage and other server resources are shared with end users, whether they be internal teams, external partners, or your customers.
Two common IT consolidations are server consolidation and storage consolidation. Server consolidation is the practice of reducing the number of servers within an IT environment.
Storage consolidation refers to centralizing data storage for optimal performance at the lowest possible cost. This also reduces the dependency of IT services on any one server or app, which directly translates to less downtime from any outages or cyberattacks.
When executed properly, consolidation keeps IT services functioning efficiently while maximizing the value of available IT infrastructure.
Why is IT Consolidation critical?
As more and more routine business tasks are being done digitally, having seamlessly consolidated and coordinated information technology is critical to business success. The free flow of data between departments plays a huge role in accomplishing company-wide objectives on budget and on schedule.
A chief information officer (CIO) is the executive usually responsible for managing IT staff and data assets. They are a key leader in all consolidation initiatives and serve as a link between IT and other departments. They also make sure that the business model and support model are aligned.
What are the benefits of IT Consolidation?
The benefits of IT consolidation include:
- Increased efficiency - More collaboration leads to shared solutions. Combining systems, particularly help desks and service desks, lowers the amount of time spent troubleshooting.
- Cost savings - By consolidating procurement, companies create not only savings, but more purchasing power too.
- Business proactivity - React to current challenges and anticipate future ones through strategic planning and risk management.
Consolidating IT processes helps to streamline project deadlines, turnarounds, and response times. Data should be quickly accessible from all points. As a result, IT staff spend more time achieving business goals.
What are the best practices for IT Consolidation in 2022?
IT consolidation is most valuable when planned as a long term strategy which constantly improves. Any decision to consolidate IT assets, computer systems, or network management should only be made after discussion with all involved decision makers.
- Keeping your customers as the first priority will make your consolidation far more likely to succeed while saving your organization money over time.
- Aligning all supply chain contracts under a single management platform will lower service disruptions and increase customer satisfaction.
- Cloud computing can also be a valuable resource for achieving consolidation goals, as it allows for services and data to be delivered on-demand. The result is a significant improvement in user access to data centers.
- Avoid complicating organizational goals by using multiple different IT systems. Ensure all IT staff report to the corporate IT department to help improve IT management significantly.
IT consolidation is not just a business strategy, but an organizational mindset.
What are the challenges of IT Consolidation in the digital age?
Challenges to total IT consolidation are wide ranging and affect not only the entire business, but consumers as well. Attempt to minimize disruptions to users while working to consolidate IT.
Starting any consolidation effort can prove to be challenging. Business operations must continue during IT consolidation, making it critical that IT teams and other departments communicate efficiently to maintain progress. IT teams need to understand the operational needs of each business unit while on the other end, departments need to know the benefits of consolidation, such as having a guarantee that service will improve. The CIO can add value here by identifying the impact IT consolidation will have on a company’s business model.
While outsourcing IT infrastructure may be an effective decision to maximize cost savings, these data centers still must be able to provide all required IT services at a single point of contact.
The 5 Steps of IT Consolidation
- Lay out a risk and change management strategy
Understand the customer journey and how IT consolidation will impact it. Analyze how it exists today and how it could improve tomorrow through IT consolidation. Focus on the forward-looking plan rather than how it works today. This could mean preparing for more customer support demand as people initially adjust to change. Get leadership buy-in. Helpful deliverables to prepare include a roadmap and quarterly budgets.
- Develop a plan for resiliency
Follow risk management strategy to guide vast changes to IT infrastructure. Consider wide-ranging effects of the virtualization of IT systems. Identify redundancies in your IT environment - applications, storage and servers are key components of consolidation.
- Test and iterate on branch office performance & local consolidation
End users working remotely will be immediately impacted by these changes, as they need access to these applications to do their jobs. Take their feedback into consideration as you improve performance. Further, optimization of IT systems is key to minimizing disruptions while maximizing profits. Make changes to optimize local consolidation and take into account that different users will have different needs as you streamline IT services. Engage with your Chief Information Officer to determine how initiatives will hold up under the stress of real time actions.
- Architect a forward-looking infrastructure
Use the most advanced technology in each field. Using technology like legacy PLM solutions will make it harder to leap forward into the future. Propel’s product success platform guarantees at least three major updates per year. The procurement of equipment is often the most time consuming part of consolidation.
- Plan a phased rollout
Focus on users that you know can be easily supported first before expanding. Make sure your service providers are prepared to handle increased demand.
What are some strategies to improve IT Consolidation at your organization?
IT consolidation can be improved by having a single point of contact for all procurement operations.
Considering the customers’ perspective will be essential to developing consolidated IT.
Accept and acknowledge that customers will run into issues navigating new systems. Keep in mind this is a question of if, not when, this will happen. Be patient with end users and be willing to make exceptions when necessary.
Plan proactively to anticipate the changing needs of your users. Planning for the long term can reduce future costs and improve service.
Consistent communication and collaboration between stakeholders will also ensure a productive future. Prepare a complete project roadmap and continue to update it over time.
A digital-first approach sets the tone for modernization of information technology to continue to live up to business standards.
What is the Future of IT Consolidation?
Future-facing organizations have already made IT organization a top priority. As technology continues to evolve and move operations away from a process-oriented approach, IT proficiency will be necessary to make the most of these opportunities. Automation plays a large role in business already and is projected to grow even more. Instead of just being part of data centers, it will be scaled up for use in all aspects of business operations as emerging technologies become adopted.
Work cultures will need to adapt to these changes by being flexible and communicative. This allows for the right amount of IT resources to be allocated to the right place at the right time. IT staff will need to learn how to work autonomously across departments as they engage with different workflows to facilitate consolidation and ultimately, innovation.
As more and more business data is stored in the cloud, IT service models must change to enable ongoing product innovation. This will also allow analytics to be retrieved from a wide range of sources, which impacts higher level decisions made in regard to consolidation.
IT consolidation sets the tone for markets by driving consolidation on an industry-wide scale. As the line between software and hardware continues to blur, IT will continue to play a crucial role.
Learn more about how product companies are consolidating their IT stack onto a unified platform of PLM, QMS, and CRM here.