Without Planning, There is Chaos

For people that believe that planning doesn’t generate business income and that view planning an overhead expense that they can’t afford to embrace, say what?

This is wrong.  Planning is a task that if omitted, will surely turn your job or project into a mess for which you will lose money and most likely your customer as well.  Without planning you have chaos.  Chaos and technology don’t go together at all.  In fact, lack of planning and technology go together like oil and water.  This is why it is always important to do your homework first.

How Planning Benefits Tech / IT Companies

What does planning do for you as a tech or owner of an IT company?  First and foremost, your plan will help guide your tasks and if you should be off course, your plan will help you get back on track if your approach has gone awry.  Planning helps you set customer expectations.  Remember, you are on site for a reason.  You have expertise and skills your customer does not have within their company.  This doesn’t mean your customer or your point of contact doesn’t have business expertise and if they do and you haven’t planned your event, it will show up immediately.  Your customer will most likely become very anxious (and rightfully so) seeing their hard earned investment and resources being mismanaged or worse, going into a black hole for which it will never return.

Lastly, planning helps you with your own resources.  Who will be where at what time performing what task?  You may have many technicians and if you don’t know what they are doing and when they will do it, you may have a case of chaos within your business.  Rid yourself of chaos and do your homework.  Remember to always plan!

To Repair or Replace Your Technology Equipment?

IT Advice on Whether You Should Repair or Replace Your Technology Equipment 

 First, review your Lifecycle Plan for your equipment.  Does the device or devices in question fit within this plan?  If so, you can follow your plan and replace the equipment under this program as intended.  If not, are the devices in question still under warranty?  If so, you have a good opportunity to get your equipment back to an operational state.  Is the equipment able to perform the tasks you need them to perform?  This is a no brainer decision.

If you elect to repair your device, get an estimate of the repairs before making a firm decision.  For an $800 computer, your repair costs should be less than $300.00.  If your repair costs are more, then you will most likely want to replace the equipment.  Don’t forget to include in your decision the age of the equipment itself.  A device that is more than four years old may be a candidate for replacement without going through various exercises to determine its viability.  Don’t forget to find out how long the repair is warrantied.  Ninety days is the norm.

While this list of items is not exhaustive, it should provide you with a good gauge with the direction you need to take.

​The Almighty Cloud – What is it?

We’ve all heard the commercials and every vendor’s sales campaigns.  Is cloud computing a possibility for your business? It all depends on your architecture, environment and how prepared you are as a business.  If you’re not prepared, it can be painful and extremely disruptive.  If you are prepared, you can release the chains and give yourself some freedom and continue to operate very effectively.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

First, you have to understand that there are variations of cloud computing.  One you may have heard is Software as a Service (SaaS).  SaaS’ approach is that you do not have to buy the licensing and core software as an item or product; rather, your SaaS provider includes it as part of their cloud solution for you.  When there are updates, your SaaS provider performs those updates.  When there is troubleshooting that is required, the SaaS vendor helps perform those efforts as well.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

Another variation is Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).  IaaS is a pay as you use approach.  When you are using a cloud software product, such as Microsoft Word, your meter is running.  When you log off, your meter stops.  You are only billed for the time expended using the product.  Think of it like this.  When you turn on a light at your home, your electric meter spins a little faster.  When you turn off the light, your electric meter slows down.  Well, at least for the energy consumed for that light in question.  I wish turning off a light would stop my meter all together, but that’s an argument for another day.

Platform as a Service (PaaS) 

Lastly, there is Platform as a Service (PaaS).  PaaS includes your provider performing everything for you in the cloud.  Servers, services, software etc., it’s all inclusive like a Sandal’s resort.  Think of this approach as your technology folks now working at the data center.   Instead of them physically being at your office to perform your technology functions, they now never come to your office; rather, they are working at the cloud site.

While the three options of cloud computing above are distinctive, it is possible to engage a provider in a mix and match of these services to bundle up to one or two hybrid packages.  If available, SaaS might be right for one piece of software and PaaS might be better for other services.  Also, remember that deploying these services does not generally eliminate your in-house/outsourced technology team.  Some approaches will reduce time significantly; some will reduce just a little. Work with your technology provider to decide which package (s) will work best for your business and fit your needs.

Are you ready for the almighty cloud?

Never Let Technology Professionals Make your Technology Decisions

It’s already time to start thinking about:

  • Next Year’s Budget
  • Organizing Case Studies
  • Finding Quick Wins
  • Starting the Preparation to Secure Funding for the Next Fiscal Year
  • Pairing Funding with the Company's Vision, strategy, direction and goals.

As a business leader, I’ve always found it to be a challenge to couple our business goals and objectives with technology.  For instance, human resources wants this service, operations wants a different widget and as you have probably surmised, finance desires something totally different. 

At this point, we’re back to the A – B – C’s of business, asking: What are the Requirements? Is their Commonality Between departments?  Custom or Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS)?  The list of questions can be endless. However, my staff’s responsibilities continue supporting me in identifying new technology solutions that will help accelerate the business.

And here is where the fun begins! My technicians are the best money can buy.  They know their technology and I would pair them against anyone, but technicians want cool, cutting edge and sometimes bleeding edge stuff. Their input is valuable to the business but it is very common that their recommendations won't fully align with the business.  Their recommendations always require parsing to a point where the cream surfaces and I am able to truly find value for the business.

With that, I’ll leave you where I started.  Never let technology professionals that work within your company, make the technology decisions for your business. You may end up with a lot of neat technology, but it may never truly help your business move forward.

Backup Strategy- What Are Your Thresholds?

What You Should Know About Backup Strategies

I think everyone today performs some level of backup whether it’s with the use of the native xcopy, robocopy to a local disk or external drive, or something more sophisticated such as an offsite Backup Disaster Recovery (BDR)/replication site.  Either way, having a good back is only a great start and does not complete the intended process. As a business owner and/or operations manager, you must know and ask about the following.     What about the ability to recover that  backup?

This is where most companies fail as no recovery process is tested, proofed or validated.  Some people liken this to sky diving without a parachute – you will jump out of a plane, but you may not successfully make it down safely.

So, what is your Recovery Point Objective (RPO) & your Recovery Time Objective (RTO)? 

Both are needed to ensure you are achieving your intended business goals. The RPO is the value is the age of the data set.  For example, data sets may be backed up every day; therefore, your RPO is one day.  The RTO value is how quickly you want this data set recovered.  For example, I want to recover my data set in four hours.  Please keep in mind that a short RPO and quick RTO can be very costly while a short RPO and long RPO might be more reasonable for most companies.

  • Have you tested, proofed and validated your backups and just as important, have you tested your recovery?
  • Without testing the recovery process, you may only have half of the equation solved.
  • Having now digested these basic backup process values, what is your RPO and RTO?
 

Technology is an Accelerator for Business Growth

In today’s digital world, technology is very important, but it’s not the end-all, be-all for your business. 

Do you think this is an obscure comment from a business technology provider?  

It is not and if your current technology provider is not echoing this concept, then you are with the wrong provider.  The concept is business whereas the solutions, are technology.

What does technology do for your business? 

It should automate individual tasks that are performed manually through single or multiple individual tasks.  Obviously, those tasks performed on paper will see the biggest gain in business production and acceleration.  Remember, information is king! To help identify what technology can do for your particular business, follow these simple steps: 

  • Review your processes thoroughly. 
  • Identify those that are time consuming, lead to manual errors, duplication of input and where other business units interface
  • Determine if your manual process is a hindrance to those processes that follow.  
  • Chart that processes

You will likely identify places, if not all of a process or processes, that can be automated to accelerate and improve your business growth.

 

When is it a Good Time to Upgrade my Software?

As an IT professional, I’m routinely asked, 

“Should I upgrade my software?”  

Not including the need to upgrade due to hardware or operating systems requirements, I always respond, 

  • “What does the new software version or platform do for you that you can’t do now?” 
  • “Will the new features bring value to the business?” 
  • “Will this upgrade save you operational time?” 
  • “Does it fit into your business, strategy, direction and goals?” 

Businesses with solid strategy know the answers to these questions.