If the speed of IT innovation is anything to go by, then you should not expect to use any IT hardware or software for ages before replacing them. For one, operating systems are made to deteriorate in effectiveness after a few years, giving way to upgrades or newer models. Just like we revealed in the first part of this blog, ‘How to Know When Your IT Systems Need an Overhaul’, computer systems are not built to last forever. You can enjoy maximum utility for an average of five years on them.
But there are other cogent reasons for scheduling your IT systems for an overhaul, especially as an enterprise. Most businesses, even the formidable conglomerates of today, start small, committing just enough resources to IT as dictated by the existing demands of the business. But the kind of database that would be needed to cater to a startup with forty employees and an annual throughput of 200 customers is much different from the one that will serve the company in its 10th year, all things being equal, with about 10,000 clients. As you scale your business, your IT must also grow to accommodate this growth because a lot more will be at stake. Overhauling will be necessary to reinforce the security of your digital assets, maintain a competitive business in the industry, empower your business to continue to meet the evolving demands of your clients in a world dominated by technology, and so on.
But supposing you know all these already and are now looking to do the needful in your business, you might also be wondering the best way to go about it. In this article, we will guide you on steps to take to get your desired results while maximising your resources. First, we’ll have to mention that tech investments are not exactly cheap. Only the dividends they yield make them worthwhile. It would be a major disaster to have expended a fortune on an overhaul with nothing to show for it. This is why we will be spelling out the very important considerations for the exercise in the next few paragraphs.
Phased Implementation: A Guide to Getting Started
Planning involves the various internal and external considerations you must make before embarking on your IT overhaul project. Depending on the situations that have necessitated the overhaul, some aspects of your planning might or might not include difficult but necessary calls. For instance, if there has been a breach in your security owing to the laxity of your IT personnel, then you will need to put your house in order first. This is a mild way of saying that some employees may need to go. Just as you do not pour new wine into old wineskins, you do not salvage systems only to have them in the care of the same set of people that have demonstrated an inability to manage them efficiently.
External auditors are trained to diagnose problems that you and your IT team may be too limited in scope to see. This is a result of their experience working with many different companies with unique problems, which gives them a wide range of experiences and insights. Auditors will inspect your systems and use their white-hat hacking skills to reveal your digital vulnerabilities. Besides this, they are also your best bet for creating overhaul strategies that are most suitable for your enterprise needs.
While auditing, it is always a good idea to take proper accounts of your IT assets. A comprehensive inventory of your hardware and software, including their date of acquisition, version, memory capacity, installed software, warranty expiration, and the user to whom the asset is assigned, will provide you with sufficient information for creating an informed strategy for the needed upgrade.
Remember that planning involves activities that precede execution. One other activity that must be listed here is employee education. Before embarking on an overhaul, your employees will need to be properly oriented on digital ethics as wittingly or unwittingly, they constitute one of the greatest vulnerabilities of any IT intervention. People get careless with passwords and company data and often have to be reminded repeatedly about the importance of IT security. Successful IT overhaul begins with IT engineers and ends with the users, who, in most cases, tend to be employees, and so all hands must be on deck. Your employees must anticipate the overhaul and be actively involved in helping it stay efficient.
One of the ways by which the efficiency of a project (especially in IT) is measured is seamlessness. It is, therefore, often surprising to see that while seamlessness is treated as paramount in delivering value to clients, it is overlooked in internal operations. This ought not to be the case.
Seamless overhauling involves carrying out the intervention in a way that poses zero to little interference in the organisation’s workflow. One of the best ways to achieve this, particularly for enterprises that do not run on weekends, is to schedule upgrades for weekends when no one is actively on their systems. This way, IT engineers are not interrupted or distracted in their operations, and staff can resume their work the following week with better functioning systems.
One of the things you want to avoid as you undertake your IT overhaul is the endless cycle of planning. Sometimes, you might even advance beyond planning, calling in the auditors, and even scheduling the upgrade, but you still get the unsettling feeling that there is one last thing that has yet to be considered. This is not abnormal. As we have said earlier, technology is a huge investment, and the best thing you can do for yourself is to get it right the first time. Mistakes can be costly. Troubleshooting and debugging can be costly as well.
You can begin by prioritising the overhaul. It is highly unlikely that every single piece of hardware and software would need an upgrade or replacement at the same time. Prioritising helps you get the most utility from all your resources, as long as you can keep tabs on all the assets. With prioritisation, you can continue to leverage the lifespan of your hardware which still function efficiently, while you make the needed adjustments for the ones that have reached the end of their usefulness. For instance, you could opt to upgrade only specific parts of your systems, like renewing your warranties, increasing your memory capacity, and replacing outright broken devices. This is more economical by phasing out all IT assets at the same time, as it helps you spread the expenses of your upgrade over time.
Because the above action, although economical, can spin you into an endless cycle of IT upgrading, you might want to consider the alternative of replacing all of your assets at once. This way, you can acquire newer models to serve your current and immediate future needs. This works better for enterprises with a higher IT budget. And even where the resources to achieve this are unavailable, you could also consider seeking financing as it helps to spread upgrading costs.
Thirdly, where feasible, leverage cloud infrastructure. Moving your server and storage to the cloud removes the worry of IT maintenance and security from your shoulder. More importantly, it allows for more efficiency and productivity. This is because users get access to your network even from remote locations and devices, and it is more compliant with the demands of modern businesses.
While you may be tempted to let out a deep breath and slide back into the status quo after managing to pull off the overhaul, you would need to take one last step. This step will reveal whether or not you have truly pulled off the IT intervention. Assessment helps you identify the position of your IT infrastructure as regards meeting both your need and the demands of your industry and customers. Does the overhaul serve the purpose it is meant to serve? Does it drive the company’s ultimate goal, or does it in any way serve as an impediment?
Now that you are familiar with what it takes to implement an overhaul of your IT infrastructure, all that is left is to contact a trusted IT consultant to provide the technical expertise. This is where we at Hidden Brains come in.
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