Information Technology Best Practices

Proven Information Technology Department Leading Practices to Adopt

  • Best Practices (#25) / Information Technology / IT Security

    Best Practice (Good)
    Strictly control (or forbid entirely) the use of external storage devices, such as USB drives or external hard drives, in the workplace. If an external storage device is required, ensure that it is purchased through the proper channel (IT Procurement team).
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Allow employees to use external storage devices (USB drives, external hard drives, CD/DVD, etc.) to transport files between employees and locations (i.e., home and office). The use of these devices is not strictly governed or monitored by IT Security staff.
    Benefits: Disallowing (or closely monitoring) the use of external storage devices helps to prevent security breaches on two fronts; viruses cannot be brought in from external sources (i.e., home computers or networks) and sensitive data cannot be 'leaked' by employees carrying these devices outside of the office.
  • Best Practices (#17) / Information Technology / Application Development & Support

    Best Practice (Good)
    State clearly, when typing notes into a versioning system during a code-commit, the date, which developers were involved in the code change and which files and functions were edited or added.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Have developers potentially ignore versioning notes. The project developer is responsible for conducting an investigation to determine the relevant developers and code commits to examine when bug-fixes and feature requests are received.
    Benefits: When a bug report comes in, a manager can associate the first appearance of the bug with the relevant code commits and easily determine the likely list of at-fault files as well as which developers to notify. This will speed up resolution and project cycle times.
  • Best Practices (#18) / Information Technology / User Support & Services

    Best Practice (Good)
    Foster open communication between User Support staff and teams related to application development, network administration and IT procurement. Encourage Support staff to communicate the common, recurring issues that they encounter in hopes of correcting them at the source (i.e., application structure, network architecture, hardware performance).
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Have IT User Support and Services staff members solve common, recurring issues as they arise. Little or no effort is devoted to solving these problems on a long term basis. Application Development, Network Adminstration and IT Procurement team members have little or no communication with front-line IT Support staff.
    Benefits: By encouraging IT teams to work collaboratively to identify and correct the root causes of recurring issues, IT support capacity is freed up to tackle more high-value support work, and customer satisfaction is boosted.
  • Best Practices (#20) / Information Technology / Network Administration

    Best Practice (Good)
    Create a detailed document describing several disaster scenarios (e.g., backup corruption, denial of service attacks, rootkit attacks, etc.), how they are detected and how they can be resolved. Provide this documentation to staff members, and add to it over time as new scenarios and resolution methods arise.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Rely on the experience and training of IT Support and Network Administration staff members to recover from IT-related disasters. Knowledge of detection and resolution methods resides in the form of 'tribal knowledge' only.
    Benefits: Building a detailed recovery plan for each potential IT disaster protects the company in the case of employee turnover and also reduces the mean time to repair (MTTR) system failures, outages and breaches.
  • Best Practices (#24) / Information Technology / IT Security

    Best Practice (Good)
    Maintain a list, accessible to only authorized parties, that details each server on your network and related information, such as name, purpose, rack location, operating system and date of service. Assign a single person or team to each server.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Allow individual employees or teams to keep track of server information. Responsible parties for each server are not explicitly defined; server issues are managed as they arise by available employees or teams.
    Benefits: Creates direct accountability for each server and its overall health. Assures that server information is available when needed, and is not ‘siloed’ by organizational area or team.
  • Best Practices (#26) / Information Technology / Business Intelligence (BI)

    Best Practice (Good)
    Build differing levels of detail into reports based on the position of end users within the organization. For example, a C-Suite level user may want to see only basic metrics on department costs and headcount ratios, while a front-line manager might be more interested in detailed data on individual employee performance.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Provide end users at different levels within the organization (C-Suite vs. front-line management) with the same reports. These users are expected to know how to navigate through a myriad of charts and filters to produce the exact insights they are looking for.
    Benefits: By designing dashboards and documents with different end user's interests, goals and time/attention constraints in mind, they are more likely to be used to guide decision-making.
  • Best Practices (#15) / Information Technology / IT Project Management

    Best Practice (Good)
    Use ‘mini milestones’ in project planning – targets that must be met on a near-daily basis. Since milestones are fine-grained, problems will be identified earlier in the process.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Use traditional Gantt charts (or similar) to manage project operations. Assign monthly or bi-weekly milestones to ensure project is moving in the right direction.
    Benefits: Breaking the project into smaller goals creates daily accountability and raises morale of staff by gaining near-term victories. Provides early opportunities to fine tune project schedule and adjust as needed.
  • Best Practices (#16) / Information Technology / IT Project Management

    Best Practice (Good)
    Establish project success criteria with customers or end users during the planning phase and define exactly what must happen for them to consider the project a success.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Define project success criteria based on corporate agenda and data from marketing and research teams.
    Benefits: Creates an explicit understanding between the customer and the Application Development team to drive the product to market demand and usability.
  • Best Practices (#19) / Information Technology / User Support & Services

    Best Practice (Good)
    Create a resource (print document or online resource) for all Help Desk employees with standardized responses and procedures to resolve common issues.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Rely on individual Help Desk employee knowledge and training to resolve common, recurring issues.
    Benefits: Reduces resolution cycle time and creates standardized resolution methods for common, recurring issues.
  • Best Practices (#27) / Information Technology / IT Procurement

    Best Practice (Good)
    Maintain a database of prequalified technology vendors to consider during the early stages of the vendor selection process.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Qualify vendors for each new purchase that is made, running them through the vendor setup process each time.
    Benefits: Allows buyers to hand pick vendors who have already been qualified and have proven to be reliable, eliminating the step of qualifying new vendors.
  • Best Practices (#28) / Information Technology / IT Procurement

    Best Practice (Good)
    Prepare a weekly inventory “hot list” for the IT Procurement Group that lists which items currently are over or under-stocked. Include all relevant data about these items, such as retail price, cost, lead times, etc.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Determine items that are over-/under-stocked by comparing data from weekly or monthly inventory reports and demand forecasts.
    Benefits: Improves storage efficiency by opening capacity for more high-value, demand-heavy items, and greatly improves availability of technology-related assets that are in high demand.
  • Best Practices (#21) / Information Technology / Network Administration

    Best Practice (Good)
    Create an oversight committee of subject matter experts and key end users to evaluate network design, speed and functionality periodically to ensure employee satisfaction.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Allow upper management to evaluate network design, speed and functionality based on ad hoc feedback and personal experiences.
    Benefits: Provides a greater understanding of employee requirements and ‘pain points,’ which allows the Network Administration team to make adjustments based on concrete user needs.
  • Best Practices (#22) / Information Technology / Systems Analysis

    Best Practice (Good)
    Assign each requirement and step in the test plan to a single owner whose sole job is to verify that requirement.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Assign a full, dedicated team of IT employees to test and validate all system requirements as a whole.
    Benefits: Reduced duplication of requirements testing and greater understanding of each individual requirement.
  • Best Practices (#23) / Information Technology / Systems Analysis

    Best Practice (Good)
    During the first round of user and stakeholder interviews, schedule a date/time to follow up with each individual user and validate the requirements that have been drafted.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Connect with users and stakeholders on an ad hoc basis following the initial requirements gathering session to validate and ask questions related to certain requirements.
    Benefits: Fosters ongoing collaboration between business analysts and users/stakeholders, and provides a clear structure for follow up interviews and requirement validation.

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