Network management is an ever-growing field that has to keep up with today’s technology. Keeping up with the needs of your company’s network requires a detailed topology, a tracking system, and an escalation process. Fortunately, new tools are available to streamline processes and consolidate tools. Here are five effective network operations and management strategies: 

Invest in a Network Management System:

As networks grow more complex, maintaining oversight can take time and effort. In fact, according to ITIC’s 2020 Hourly Cost of Downtime Survey, an hour of downtime costs companies $1-5 million in lost revenue, end-user productivity, and IT remediation actions.

Network operations and management help network teams keep their networks running despite the many moving parts involved. NMSs enable organizations to monitor the operation of all devices, track performance indicators such as bandwidth utilization, packet loss, and latency and ensure that all systems are plugged in and configured correctly.

Additionally, network management systems (NMSs) can automate network management processes like configuration management to reduce human error and increase responsiveness to issues. This can be done through a knowledge base, which allows IT professionals to access standardized procedures when troubleshooting or addressing an issue quickly. 

It also helps them ensure their processes are consistent across all locations and users. Finally, NMSs can perform real-time monitoring to spot problems as they emerge. This helps reduce the mean time to recovery for system disruptions and ensures end-user productivity remains high.

Ensure Network Visibility:

A business can only function well with a clear view of the network and its connections. Visibility enables many aspects of network management, such as tracking performance issues and planning upgrades. For instance, a company can use visibility tools to monitor Wi-Fi access points and ensure they aren’t security risks or wasting bandwidth. 

It can also see if a data path is causing slowdowns and identify the best way to improve data rates. Visibility can help with threat management by ensuring IDS, SIEM, and other systems have the information they need to detect malware and track its progress.

Visibility also makes it easier to resolve alerts and prevent downtime by giving technicians full knowledge of underlying issues that might cause network lag or other problems. For MSPs tasked with guarding customer data, this is vital for keeping downtime to a minimum and protecting the integrity of sensitive information.

Implement a Ticketing System:

A ticketing system monitors and documents incoming customer requests, connecting representatives and consumers through one clear communication thread. It can be a simple spreadsheet or a more advanced tool that allows for the sorting and cataloging of different requests, allowing IT teams to manage their time and resources better.

Some ticketing systems offer features such as the automatic ticket assignment to a representative and the ability for consumers to reach out directly to that representative when they need more information. Some systems also enable the import of customer details from other tools, such as CRMs, consumer feedback platforms, or payment portals, to provide greater context for customer issues.

Lastly, a good ticketing system will allow for the creation of internal knowledge bases that representatives and consumers can access. This can reduce the number of tickets created by allowing customers to serve themselves through FAQs and troubleshooting guides, avoiding needing a customer service agent to open a new ticket. This can be a great way to improve efficiency and overall customer experience.

Create a Classification System:

A well-planned classification system makes it easier to find and retrieve essential data. It also reduces the amount of sensitive information discarded or stored in multiple locations, making it more difficult for cybercriminals to access. The system should include tagging based on internal security policies, and storage standards must be established for each data category.

The network operations staff at a NOC should prioritize training and be familiar with the procedures and protocols for resolving issues that affect customers and performance. They should also understand when to escalate an issue to a colleague with more experience quickly.

Developing a classification system is an excellent way to improve overall network operations. It can help NOC teams solve faults more effectively, identify trends, correlate better, and predict future problems. It can also ensure they meet SLA requirements and prioritize issues based on customer business needs and impact. In addition, it can help them reduce costs through automation and efficiency. The right solution can scan and classify data automatically based on preset parameters to speed up the process.

Establish Escalations:

Network operations include monitoring network infrastructure, resolving issues, and managing upgrades. These processes are critical for ensuring systems work properly and business isn’t interrupted. A good network operations center, or NOC, focuses on preventative maintenance to avoid major problems and minimize downtime.

To prevent a tense situation from deteriorating, codify your NOC procedures for incident handling. This ensures consistency in personnel actions and lays out how to escalate issues. It also outlines the protocols and channels for handoffs between staff members.

NOC staff must be able to work around the clock to respond to incidents and resolve problems that affect the company’s network. That’s why NOC best practices focus on training and establishing clear protocols for communication.

A well-established escalation policy will also help mitigate the need for more personnel, saving time and money. In addition, integrating networking and security teams can help eliminate siloes between departments. However, this may only be practical for some organizations. Whether an enterprise should consolidate its teams depends on its specific goals and needs.