Gartner identified IT cost optimisation as a top priority for technology organisations and the enterprise in 2013. In line with this, many IT managers are feeling the pressure to reduce spending, reduce costs, manage service levels and demonstrate the real business value of IT. But when confronted with such a mammoth task, where should the focus lie? For many administrators, IT responsibility means a large number of routine jobs and too little time for important productive work.

As organisations develop and grow, the time spent on IT increases in line with the number of computers and software. A major portion of this time is spent on continual maintenance and routine tasks, on setups, the distribution of patches and the backup of data. As a result, IT experts are still spending far too much time on routine tasks, instead of turning their talents to productive work. It represents a waste of an organisation’s IT talent and monetary resources.

At the same time, infrastructure administration and inventories are taking up an increasing amount of space. The more employees a company has, the greater the difficulty in guaranteeing that all computers always have the right software in good time and that data is always backed up. These two major issues have pushed automation – and in particular – lifecycle management solutions to the fore.

In contrast, when routine work is reliably automated it’s then possible to guarantee that all tasks are always run identically reducing the margin for errors, and ensuring applications are deployed identically across an entire organisation. Not only can lifecycle management solutions enable end-users to save time and increase efficiency by freeing up previously occupied staff stuck doing routine tasks, but also slash IT budgets by up to 85 per cent.

As a first step towards automation it’s important to identify the areas of IT needing to be organised in an efficient manner. Normally the processes wanting to be prioritised for automation include the collection of inventories, installation of operating systems, and deployment of software and management of patches. Processes should also be secure, with data backed-up and shareable with key parties across the organisation.

In addition, lifecycle management shouldn’t stop with computer software. With growing preferences for BYOD and demand from employees for flexible, remote and mobile working options, the management of mobile devices and application deployment also needs to be taken into consideration. More and more employees are using tablets and smartphones for work, and these devices must become part of standardised lifecycle management. However, achieving this can be made difficult by the wide variety of operating systems and functionalities of individual models.

Although PCs and notebooks are already well integrated into the IT infrastructure, intelligent mobile end-devices have to be configured manually or remain entirely dependent on the level of commitment and knowledge of their users. It is a simple fact that more and more company data is being stored on these mobile devices and staff are increasingly accessing company networks remotely and saving e-mails on their devices.

As it becomes the norm for employees to work using these devices, organisations should also look to manage tablets and smartphones by integrating them into the IT infrastructure just as securely, efficiently and reliably as PCs, notebooks, and servers using professional mobile device management. At the same time, they need to ensure there are no applications running on mobile devices that could put the security of the IT system at risk.

By automating the management of mobile devices, enterprises can enjoy a clearer overview of all mobile workflows, and therefore work towards more overall productivity and the freeing-up of resources so IT experts have time for productive tasks once again.

In conclusion, as the current economic constraints faced by many businesses put pressure on the IT department to do more with less, the automation of tasks through lifecycle management solutions is a key step in optimising IT spend. With cost-savings potentially sky-high it only makes sense for organisations to begin exploring the possibilities and reap the rewards as soon as possible.