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IT Infrastructure Planning: Preparing The Team

Nov 22, 2012 6:00:00 AM

by Ken Cameron

IT infrastructure planning preparing the teamEven when your focus is explicitly on IT infrastructure planning, it is important to remember that your “team” must expand beyond just your IT staff. Every department relies on IT services. When you involve non-technical staff in IT planning, you uncover new insights and ideas, especially from those who have the closest interactions with your customers.  Ask what changes would enable them to do more, do their work better or reduce their costs.

The prospect of change is often a source of fear, uncertainty and doubt. Prepare your IT staff by directly addressing possible concerns. They know that a decision to move IT infrastructure to the cloud or switch to outsourcing could result in staff reductions. Since these are good people who already understand the inner workings of your organization and environment, you might discover that re-directing their skills and wisdom toward other technology-related questions can drive benefits that significantly outweigh the costs of retaining them. 

Your eventual decision made also lead to re-badging some of your staff to the provider.  If reductions are likely, or even just possible, determine how you will mitigate the potential risks with retention bonuses and/or severance packages, and communicate the possibilities to the staff.

Prepare for IT infrastructure planning by discussing “what if” scenarios.

Consider IT industry trends and the implications for your organization. Are there best practices you’ve not yet implemented or not wholly implemented?  What is your competition doing? Is it giving them an edge? You don’t have to copy them, but you do have to keep up.

These days IT infrastructure planning has to consider every alternative that could bring cost-saving efficiencies, boost productivity, and/or improve services. Cloud-based solutions can replace physical infrastructure or software applications, selective outsourcing or managed services can handle specific, targeted segments of your operation, or you might consider migrating entirely into the cloud or to an outsourcing provider. Which choices offer the greatest potential benefits to your company’s revenue and profitability?

Anticipate potential failures. What if someone’s hard drive crashes at the worst possible moment? Your offices are burglarized or vandalized? Flood waters pour through your data center? From the simple to the extreme, having a plan in place allows you to respond quickly and surely so the flow of business continues smoothly.

In other words, you need to understand the requirements, what new capabilities you need to embrace, what problems you need to resolve.  All of these must be addressed from both a business and a technology perspective.

Prepare your team by preparing a baseline.

Reviewing alternatives necessarily includes evaluating probable cost-benefit outcomes, both short- and long-term. But remember that some benefits don’t generate income and some costs aren’t monetary. Create a dashboard that shows:  

  • Current operations and supports expenses and TCO.
  • Service gaps and needed improvements.
  • Most-desired new service offerings.
  • Potential new tech-driven or tech-assisted revenue streams.

Establish KPI’s to monitor progress as you execute your IT plan. This information, along with your list of priorities and implementation timeline will help you map out questions you’ll want to ask prospective new providers.

The Conflict Between Planning and Day-to-Day Operations

Does your team have time to study the latest innovations in IT infrastructure and service solutions without impacting their regular day-to-day performance? Do they know all of the rocks to look under to come up with a truly objective baseline with an accurate Total Cost of Ownership?  With the pace of change in today’s IT industry, keeping up with current IT trends, such as Cloud Computing, BYOD, Mobility, and Big Data, can be a full-time job. 

Working with an experienced, executive-level technology consultant can help you expedite the creation of a baseline, identify and consider alternatives from every angle that match your business and technology requirements, and assist in the creation of a business case to justify the chosen direction.

The conclusions you reach about choices and priorities have to support the organization’s overarching business goals and mesh with your big-picture implementation timeline. Properly preparing your team will produce superior results -- custom-tailored IT solutions that fit perfectly now and offer the scalability to comfortably grow with you, helping to trim your total cost of ownership but increase your agility and profitability. 

Benchmarking IT Costs

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