One of the most undervalued components of a successful Information Technology department is strategic planning. Involving the IT department in strategic planning allows organizations to align technology needs with its mission and vision. This helps create a road map for future resource, time and energy needs.
Appropriately sized and designed IT infrastructure allows your employees to complete day-to-day and minute-to-minute tasks in a timely fashion. Every time an employee opens a file or downloads something your IT infrastructure is put to the test from a hardware and design stand point. An inappropriately sized or designed solution can add costly time to these processes making employees less effective and costing your company real dollars.
Many times we find servers are sized to the immediate needs of an organization. What types of hardware are required to make your business run smoothly largely depends on a few factors. The most important thing to keep in mind when determining hardware needs is that this equipment will likely be in place for 3 to 5 years. Answering these questions can help when determining what types of hardware resources are required. While you may only have 20 employees now, is that where you see yourself 5 years from now? Is this hardware capable of expanding in a cost efficient manner? What types of programs are used on a day to day basis? Are there any plans to move to a new line of business application?
Strategic planning and thinking about these questions prior to making decisions with hardware helps your organization run more efficiently and accommodate yet to be made business decisions.
The design of your IT infrastructure is not something that should be done on a whim. Many organizations tend to grow their networks in an ad-hoc fashion, purchasing pieces of equipment and integrating it with the existing network infrastructure. This reactive method of growing a network is costly and leads to a poorly designed network that inhibits productivity and can be costly to correct.
An example that is popular today of how appropriate design planning can be used to avoid costly redesign and engineering costs is whether your business would be better off moving to “the cloud” versus purchasing local server resources. Contrary to popular belief not all businesses are a perfect fit to move to the cloud. Many considerations need to be taken into account prior to making the decision to invest the capital in server hardware resources that will need to be refreshed roughly every 3 to 5 years or committing to moving to “the cloud”. “The cloud” term is thrown around quite a bit lately but typically it refers to off-site server and storage resources that reside in data centers and are essentially rented out on a pay per resource model. Shifting to the cloud when applicable can provide huge cost savings from an initial investment perspective however, there are several things one should keep in mind. Did you know that if you move all of you server resources to the cloud and your Internet goes down at your office, or your Internet Service Provider has issues your employees could be stuck twiddling their thumbs while the repair and troubleshooting is completed. This places the value on the type of Internet service to your business at a premium typically requiring business grade fiber.
In conclusion, when the technology needs of an organization are left out of strategic planning meetings, IT costs will be more and employee productivity will likely be affected.