There are a thousand projects going on at once, and you’re trying to stay on top of security and organise disaster recovery while the employees are all demanding access to the network from their iPads. Sound like a common scenario? Ask your IT guys.

It’s a busy time to be in IT, and despite being such an indispensable resource to businesses, many IT teams are smaller than ideal. So what can managers do to make sure that IT functions as needed, even if the teams are short-staffed?

1) Prioritise to keep people happy

When short staffed, an undisrupted workflow is critical. Businesses should delegate a clear order of priorities to the most appropriate staff and then minimise disruptions. A stressed IT team pulled in different directions by conflicting priorities from management is an IT team that will make mistakes.

2) Maintain focus on staff satisfaction

Keeping the stress levels down is one thing, but equally important is to reward the hard work that the team does. Quality of work will remain high as long as the team feels like their efforts are rewarded and they are able to contribute in a meaningful way to the business. Consider setting aside time each week to give the IT team a chance to innovate; it might seem like “wasted time,” but the chance to innovate is often what drives people to become IT experts, and recognising this will help the employees feel like they’re in a workforce that understands their personal ambition.

3) Make smart use of mobility

An investment in a robust VPN to allow staff to connect into the network from anywhere while maintaining security is a useful investment for an understaffed IT team. Being able to work from home, coupled with having good job satisfaction, will encourage the team to jump online to complete bits of work in the evenings or over weekends, or simply react to a crisis from anywhere. While you probably don’t want your team working on their holidays, giving them some flexibility will help boost productivity.

4) Make good use of a Managed Services provider

Engaging with the right Managed Services provider will greatly ease the burden on your IT team. While this adds an additional cost into the business, it pales in comparison to onboarding additional team members, and allows your most skilled in-house staff to focus on more advanced problems. A flexible agreement with the Managed Services provider can help minimise costs even further by scaling the level of service to the businesses’ current needs.

5) Ensure security so they don’t have to

Keeping a business’s security up to date and monitored can be a pain, but if it’s not regularly updated, the IT staff can be pulled away to manage a breach far too regularly. You want your IT teams working on using IT as a competitive advantage for the business, not reacting to an easily preventable crisis. A Managed Services provider will be able to help you with ongoing support so your team can focus on other IT projects.

For information on strengthening your team, check out our article on Building a formidable team