Chapter 1: IS WHAT I HAVE IN PLACE TODAY WORKING FOR ME?
When a customer asks this question, we always respond with another question: “What do you have in place?” Before we can know if what you have is working for you, we need to know what you have. You can take on the task of gathering inventory on your current IT infrastructure, which includes your hardware, software and the people currently tasked with managing and maintaining it. Also, it’s worthwhile to take note of any particular frustrations you believe to be technology related.
Do you have dedicated personnel on staff to assist with IT support? Oftentimes, we find that the office “go-to” person is an employee who just happens to be good with computers, so everyone goes to them for help.
Companies without a dedicated IT person on staff are utilizing the resources of an employee whose unique ability may not be managing IT tasks. When that person is busy with their regular work, out sick or on vacation, the office enters “scramble mode” as soon as an IT issue pops up.
For companies who do have a single, dedicated IT person on staff, it’s not uncommon for that person to spend most of their time on support-related issues for users around the office. These include things like password resets, updating software, troubleshooting, helping with email and removing viruses, among many other tasks.
With this person focused on end-user support, they’re unable to dedicate the time they need to look at the bigger picture of their organization’s IT needs. What happens is that while the IT person is kept busy just keeping day-to-day technology working, the company can outgrow its current infrastructure. If the IT department doesn’t notice until it’s too late, the organization is forced to act reactively instead of proactively. Reactive changes tend to be rushed, expensive and not thoroughly thought out. Left unchecked, this cycle repeats itself.
How old are the computers in your office? The average lifecycle for a computer is 3-5 years. And that’s if you take care of it with regular maintenance.
Do you budget for new computers or are they purchased out of cash flow as they break down? Also, one of the first things we look at when assessing hardware needs is the current backup system. A tape backup, although reliable, has outrun its usefulness for most in the world of business IT. There are much more efficient and secure backup options available.
Is every staff member using the same version of business-critical software applications? These include:
Operating Systems (Windows, Mac, etc.)
Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint)
Other line of business (LOB) applications specific to your industry
OTHER SOURCES OF FRUSTRATION
The three areas listed above (people, hardware, software) are usually the root cause behind any technological frustrations that come up around the office. Those frustrations may include:
- Lack of support when needed
- Turnaround time on support requests
- Incompatibility between software versions
- Slow or sluggish workstations
- Inadequate backup systems
- Constant issues with viruses, spam and malware
For those of you who want a full inventory of your IT infrastructure, an assessment of how your current assets are functioning and detailed recommendations on how to improve any areas that are lacking, we developed the Marco Technology Assessment. It does all the things listed above, and all of the information is packaged into a format designed for non-technical business owners and stakeholders.