Breaking the break/fix habit can be a tough transition. Businesses can fall into a sense of complacency, only calling their IT provider to fix things when they’re broken. But there comes a point when a business has to stop taking a reactionary approach to their IT and begin proactively planning for their future network health. Understanding how to begin that shift can be challenging.
For instance, do you start with small improvements and work your way up? Or should you try to tackle your biggest projects out the gate? Do you know what projects you need to finish before starting others? Are you purchasing the correct devices that will best support your concerns and data security? Or are you taking advice from a retail salesmen telling you what you need is best and biggest Cadillac out there, when a Ford Escort would suffice. Just figuring out what needs exist can be daunting enough to make someone run for the hills, or even just ignore the health of your network until it crashes. We don’t want you to do that!
At NW Tech we aim to make developing your IT road map as pain free as possible. We offer opportunities for all of our Service Agreement partners to meet with their engineers to create long-term goals for their business, and how to improve their IT to support those goals.
As your Managed IT Service Provider these are just some of the ways we determine the health of your current network and what might need to be addressed sooner or later.
Identify your pain points
What part of your IT is the biggest hindrance to your productivity?
This conversation isn't just for the executives, we like to focus on your team’s heavy IT users. The reality is your executives are not the people on the ground day-to-day making your operation run, so NW Technology likes to hear from the daily users that keep your business moving. There are likely a plethora of pain points your employees work through or around on a daily basis that need to be addressed. Things like, not being able to print from a machine, workstations taking too long to boot up, and applications regularly freezing up. The key is asking your IT users to look beyond those annoyances and dream big; ask for what would really help, not what would be “good enough.” That doesn’t mean you will be able to (or even should) put money into all of those ideas. But it’s better to know every pain point, big and small, if we’re going to help you work towards a comprehensive IT solution.
Prioritize your pain points
What needs immediate attention and what can wait?
Not all IT problems are created equal. If you don't have a firewall in place that's going to take precedence over wanting to get everyone a second monitor. Why? Because a secure network is the base that a healthy IT ecosystem is built on. When working with you to prioritize your IT wish list, we not only establish what projects need to be done and in what order, but how moving forward with them or ignoring them can impact your business' bottom line. Do we start with installing SSDs to all your older work stations to improve employee productivity? Or maybe we install a VoIP phone system to cut down on your monthly phone bills. We work with you to determine which projects are going to be the most beneficial after weighing the project cost vs. the benefit.
Take a hard look at your overall budget with your IT in mind
Determine what expenditures you might be able to whittle down and funneled into IT.
Sadly IT is often one of the first things a business will cut from their budget. However forgetting the importance of maintaining a healthy IT infrastructure can quickly negatively affect your bottom dollar. As you begin establishing your budget for the year, have your IT goals in mind and start looking critically at your current expenses in order to make space for those upgrades. Read more about how to effectively manage your IT budget here.
Set ambitious yet achievable deadlines
Once you and your tech team have prioritized your IT projects, and established your dedicated budget, then it’s time to create a timeline. This timeline needs to be as specific as possible because technology advances quickly. The longer you take to accomplish your current goals, the longer your list will get, and your goals will end up becoming more expensive than originally planned.
We understand that things happen, so remember your plan isn’t written in stone. Somethings can get adjusted to make room in your timeline. For example if you planned to replace some old monitors, but then decided that upgrading your phone system was a more pressing need, that’s ok. New monitors are rarely such a pressing need that they can’t wait a few extra months.
Appoint an IT advocate
A point person who can keep you on track and make adjustments as needs change
Like a home remodel, an IT upgrade can be expensive, and not always comfortable. The big money in a remodel goes to structural things like new plumbing, electrical work, or a new roof. Often it can feel like you’re throwing a whole lot of money at something that was already working ‘ok’ and not getting any visible results. Just remind yourself about those pain points. That’s why it’s crucial when beginning an IT overhaul to have an in-house advocate that sees the overall picture who won’t lose sight of the end goal.
This person should be empowered to push back when that goal is in jeopardy. Business goals change, and your IT goals will too, but this person will ensure your IT health remains a priority.