Last time, we talked about Six IT Red Flags that can help you identify weaknesses in your IT infrastructure. In this post, we’re going to talk about how to address those problems.
First, figure out what your IT architecture currently looks like. Without an accurate picture of your current infrastructure, you’ll waste time trying things that don’t properly address the problems at hand.
Once you have an accurate picture of your current IT architecture, you can begin focusing on the problem areas. If you have the budget to rebuild your IT architecture from the ground up, that’s great! You can design exactly what you want while leaving room for growth, then add in new capability as needed. If you don’t have that kind of budget, you need to focus on the problems that pose the greatest risk to your organization and address those areas first.
In either scenario, once you have identified the high risk areas, you can start implementing solutions.
There are multiple ways to fix bad IT infrastructure, and you’ll need to figure out which solution or solutions are best for your company’s needs. Here are a few options and technologies to consider:
Automate – Automation is the task of reviewing manual business processes and automating them through the use of technology. This can typically be accomplished with software. To get started, select a process that you would like to improve, analyze each step in the process, meet with the people involved, discuss alternatives and then begin researching technology that will provide a suitable solution. It is very easy to be too close to a process if you work within it every day. An outside set of eyes will really help you take a step back from the process and see it in a new light.
Infrastructure reviews – Regularly taking a step back from your existing infrastructure and looking at the network as a whole is a great practice. You need to do this periodically for the same reasons as mentioned above, you get too close to the infrastructure and begin developing blinders to potential problems. A network diagram will do wonders to help you visualize all of the components in your network and how everything fits together. Planning meetings with other departments to determine pinch point and points of failure are also a great way to step back and look at the system as a whole. An extra set of eyes will also bring light to this process and help raise any questions or concerns that you may be overlooking.
Software reviews – Software reviews typically take more time because there are more individual functions within each software package that you use. If you have several packages, the numbers can add up pretty quickly. A ton of time and effort can be wasted every day within your company by using outdated or ineffective software. Your users will be able to easily tell you if they feel they have to click too many times to achieve a desired result or if they have to go get a cup of coffee when a given report runs, all you have to do is listen to them. Look for opportunities to automate tasks or replace old software packages with newer solutions.
Cloud solutions – One of the simplest ways to fix your IT infrastructure is to outsource it. There are cloud services available for many business functions these days. Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) are just a few of the options you can look into for your company. The cloud service provider handles the hassles of building and maintaining the support structure, and you pay a set monthly fee that is easy to budget for. Be careful though, although this sounds easy up front, there is a whole new set of problems that come with outsourcing cloud services.
Finally, to prevent IT red flags from coming back in the future, make sure you have a simple framework in place for submitting IT suggestions and maintaining and expanding your IT architecture. This may be as simple as implementing an electronic “suggestion box” or ticketing system (there are many free ones available), scheduling regular hardware replacements, creating a patch management schedule, establishing policies regarding the selection and implementation of IT solutions, holding IT planning meetings and performing annual budget reviews.
Take it one step at a time. Taking a few steps today will go a long way to prevent problems in the future.