IT Strategy – the 80/20 Rule

IT Strategy – The 80/20 Rule


The Rule

Vilfredo Federico Damaso Pareto was an Italian engineer, sociologist, economist, political scientist, and philosopher.  He is most famous for bringing to light the 80/20 rule, later coined the Pareto principal.  In it’s most essential form this idea states that 80 percent of the results come from 20 percent of the causes.  Businesses have been using this strategy for years to determine how to add efficiency to their business.  If we focus on the 20% that yields the results we want the impact can be substantial.


In consulting with some businesses recently I’ve become aware that these principals have some application in the world of IT as well.  Working in IT support we see that 80% of the labor to support a client is help-desk work.  This is important to keep your users productive.  However, the other 20% of our time maintaining servers and networks is absolutely CRITICAL.  That 20% keeps the whole show running.

There is also a pretty big wage gap between the technicians that do help-desk support, and those that do the more intensive server network support.  We can leverage that disparity to the advantage of our clients.  For example, take a 200 person company that has 20 servers they are supporting.  This company will use somewhere in the neighborhood of 160 hours a month of IT support, or roughly 1 full time employee.

The problem is that 1 guy can’t do all that’s required for this job, or at least isn’t an efficient solution.  Essentially we have 2 tasks or roles that need filled.  128 hours of help-desk support and 32 hours of server network support.  That’s perhaps a bit of a simplification, but go with me here.  To be able to accomplish both you’ll need to hire a very senior engineer that can handle the more hairy server network work that needs done.  That means you’ll likely pay around 100K a year for that senior engineer, and that 80% of his time will be spent doing desktop support.  Alternatively, hiring a desk-top technician will leave you short of the essential skill set needed and may have disastrous consequences.  Hiring both will give you 2 resources that aren’t fully utilized, and an even higher price tag.

IT Strategy

This is where strategic outsourcing can help.  A quality managed service provider like i.t.NOW can partner with you to fill in the gaps.  Go ahead and hire that desk-top technician for 45K a year.  We can help fill in the 20% gap to support servers and network.  Our skilled engineers can split their time between several different clients, allowing us to provide that service for a fraction of the cost of a full time employee.  That means more green in your pocket.

Strategic partnerships can get you a lot more than cost savings too.  That 80% workload that your help-desk has to tackle has numerous repeatable tasks.  i.t.NOW offers solutions that allow your team to leverage automation to accomplish those tasks.  Patches and updates, backups, monitoring and alerting.  All become automated functions.  This adds labor efficiency to your IT team allowing you to get the very best bang for your IT buck.  An effective strategy can pay huge dividends for your IT department.  Call us today to see how we can add efficiency and cost savings to your organization.