By Paul Parker, SolarWinds Federal & National Government Chief Technologist
Federal IT professionals spend a lot of time working on optimizing their IT infrastructures, so it can understandably be frustrating when agency policies or cultural issues get in the way. Unfortunately, responses to a recent SolarWinds North American Public Sector survey indicate that this is often the case. Forty-four percent of IT professionals surveyed who claimed their environments were not optimized cited inadequate organizational strategies as the primary culprit. This was followed closely by insufficient investment in training, which was mentioned by 43% of respondents.
Managers and their teams must work together to bridge the knowledge divide that exists within agencies. Top-level managers must find ways to communicate their organizational strategies, so that teams can map their activities toward those objectives. Simultaneously, agencies and individuals should consider ways to improve knowledge sharing and training, so that everyone has the skills to do their jobs.
Don’t let communication be a one-time event
Town hall meetings or emails declaring an organizational change or new priorities are fine but are rarely sufficient on their own. Agency IT leaders should consider implementing systematic methods for communicating and disseminating information to ensure that everyone understands the challenges and opportunities and can work toward strategic goals. The strategy must be sold by the leadership, bought into by middle management, and actively and appropriately pursued by the overall workforce.
Understand that training is everyone’s responsibility
A busy environment encourages a “check the box” mentality when it comes to training. People will often do the minimum required to learn new material, skipping any extra steps that could immerse them in new technologies or trends like operational assurance and security, even though training can have a remarkably positive impact on efficiency.
The Defense Department Directive 8570 certification is a good example of an agency initiative that puts a premium on the importance of training and expertise. The certification requires a baseline level of knowledge of computer systems and cybersecurity, and continuous education units must be learned and submitted on a regular basis. DOD 8570 certification requires all employees with access to DOD information systems maintain a basic level of knowledge, helping ensure they’ll be up to speed on the technologies that impact those systems.
Self-training can be just as important. IT professionals should use the educational allowances allocated to them by their agencies. Take the time to learn about the technologies they already have in house, but also examine other solutions and tools that will help their departments become fully optimized. Vendors will be more than willing to help out through support programs and their own educational tools, including certification and training programs, online forums, and other offerings.
According to our survey, a knowledge and information-sharing gap does exist within federal IT environments. Applying the practices mentioned above should help shrink that gap and create more knowledgeable and optimized environments for all federal IT professionals.
Find the full article on Government Computer News.
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