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Importance of Keeping the Lights On in IT: Why KTLO Should be a Top Priority

A business’s ability to keep the lights on (KTLO) is often viewed as an IT hurdle or burden. But it’s also essential for your success.

Keeping the lights on is foundational work for any company and its IT department. It’s rarely measured, rarely considered, yet it plays a huge role in the success of any organization.

What is KTLO, what does it mean in IT, and how can you control it?

What is keeping the lights on in IT?

Keeping the lights on in IT isn’t about keeping the lights on, such as those in an office. As such, KTLO work refers to the maintenance of your basic systems and infrastructure – from your internal systems to your customer-facing tech services.

It keeps your tech team stable at the level of value you already provide. It doesn’t add any extra or new value to your tech offering.

KTLO costs can be seen as the cost of doing business – the cost of keeping your systems running smoothly.

Examples of KTLO tasks

The KTLO keeps the lights on every day by performing tasks such as:

  • Routine/application maintenance
  • Customer ad hoc requests
  • Bug fixes
  • Standard updates
  • General systems operation
  • Data management
  • Administrative time

The importance of KTLO work is obvious. Without it, we wouldn’t have a tech offering. We wouldn’t have a business. It’s the work that keeps things running smoothly.

Why would it become a burden?

When KTLO gets bad

Tech KTLO is all too often allowed to grow into a problem – and when it does, it can really hurt your business.

It can even make you fall behind your competitors by preventing value-furthering activities.

Moreover, your IT team may face the pressure of reducing budgets, the tedium of daily KTLO tasks, and the stress of catching up to innovation goals.

Striking the balance

Because it’s hard to measure in depth, it’s hard to know how much of your effort is dedicated to KTLO.

It’s possible to keep an eye on outages, how much admin your IT teams are handling, but it’s not an exact science.

When you find yourself spending too many resources just to keep the lights on, and not enough on furthering your business, your KTLO is out of control.

How do you manage your KTLO work (and keep it under control)?

Calculate and understand how much of an IT budget should go to KTLO: As an example, an older company with mature products might spend more on KTLO than a younger company that is expanding into new markets and creating new products.

Find ways to reduce the cost of keeping the lights on: Decide what your goal is. How much can you afford to spend on KTLO? How much can you afford to cut from keeping the lights on?

With your goal in mind, how do you then reduce the cost of KTLO?

The first thing to do is to maximize efficiency as much as possible.

See how you can fix the areas that consume the most KTLO resources, for example. Assume you spend a lot of your KTLO time fixing bugs. Then you should concentrate on completing the bug fix list so that such fixes don’t add to your daily workload.

It may also be worth cutting out features or code in your software that raise KTLO but aren’t used enough or don’t offer equal value.

Consider automating data management and admin tasks.

Finally, there are preventative measures you can take to reduce the workload associated with keeping the lights on.

Code quality means staying on top of technical debt, having good code reviews, and even refactoring if necessary.

Avoid feature creep or bloat. The more your team needs to maintain, the more work it will be.

Customers will need technical assistance, which prevents your IT team from doing the creative work that advances your business. Increase self-support resources. By increasing self-support options (for example, by offering a chatbot for FAQs), you ensure that the skills of your IT team stay focused in the right place.

Keeping the lights on in IT

It’s essential to keep the lights on for a successful business. It’s core, essential, and not something to fear.

Keeping track of your KTLO duties in IT matters is important; otherwise, they can spiral out of control and become a problem. Done well, keeping the lights on should feel like a simple task.

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