Businesses are faced with many questions about their IT:
- What line of business application should I use?
- How often should I replace my computers: How much should I budget for computer upgrades: Do I buy the warranty?
- Should I invest in my network infrastructure?
- Where do I buy my printers? Do I get the USB or the network printer?
- How much security do I need to protect my business?
These are just some of the questions that come up throughout the course of running a business, and these questions demand answers. How and when these questions are answered is everything when it comes to IT outcomes.
If we develop a proactive system of IT planning that looks at these questions from a strategic perspective, we can implement solutions that lead to good results. If our approach is reactive and inconsistent, we will get lower quality answers and poorer outcomes.
It’s simple when you step back and reflect upon the planning process, but it is decisions like these that matter a whole lot over the months and years that you run your business. Each decision represents a lever you can pull, and that lever creates a unique pathway for your business.
As an example, let’s look at the “should I invest in my network infrastructure?” question. If you walk into the back of any small businesses and poke around into the network closet or under desks, you will often find a lot of compromises here. Some of these compromises include poor cabling practices, spotty wi-fi, small 5-port switches under desks (for printer connection), or low-quality equipment in the networking closet. Each of these compromises will eventually lead to problems. The low-quality equipment in the network closet will bring the network down once every so often and require a reboot. The 5-port switch under someone’s desk that nobody knows about will knock a user offline for a couple of hours randomly and require them to call for IT support. And any one of these items might cause a Teams or Zoom call to look fuzzy or drop out, but which one?
This one fundamental high-level question of “should I invest in my network infrastructure?” needs to be answered mindfully, because how it is addressed will greatly influence the answers to many other smaller decisions about the network that will come up throughout the course of business. And the sum of all those decisions will determine just how well your network runs. In the end, it will either function the way it should, or it might just be death by a thousand network problems.
I cannot overstate how fundamental IT planning is. Intentional IT decisions set everything else up for success. A decision that creates a negative impact creates technical debt. A decision that creates a positive impact, even a small one, is an investment that will pay off. These investments compound and if you make enough of them, you will be setup with an IT foundation that can be utilized to drive your business forward and take advantage of all the innovations the world has to offer.
If your IT is not performing the way you would like it to, start by looking at your approach to making IT decisions. Do you have a strong planning process? Ensure that you are answering those important questions that trickle down into smaller related questions over time. Do not forget to include the cost of any compromises that you may have to make.