You hear it all of the time. “We don’t need to change our IT infrastructure. Everything is working fine.” But in many cases, everything is not fine. In fact, it’s probably worse than you think. Operating on an outdated IT infrastructure can have a substantial impact on your business and the morale of the people working within it. Here are 6 signs that you may be outgrowing that ‘perfect’ infrastructure.
#1 - Hearing Complaints from Users about the IT Department
In many businesses there is unfortunately a negative consensus about the IT department. Personality issues aside, the main reason users view the IT department negatively is that things just don’t work well. It seems like IT is always fixing something, or performing updates on something. Granted you can’t please everyone all the time. But you can recognize when your environment needs to be addressed. Keeping a pulse on the feelings of your users is important. I recommend starting a “Technology Committee” made up of power users. It’s a great place to think up new ideas, understand each department process, and monitor changes that may need some IT backbone to support it.
#2 - Bottlenecks in Production
Your IT infrastructure is the highway for your data. But it’s not just about data only. It’s about supporting your company’s business process, production schedule, and labor requirements. Having an outdated infrastructure can have an impact on how smoothly everything is running. See sign #1 above. If your infrastructure is making your production slow down, it’s time to reassess. Having a clear understanding of what those requirements are is crucial when making IT changes or technology purchases.
#3 - Users are not Working Efficiently
“Wait, you do that every time you run an order?” You’d be surprised what users have adopted as their ‘process’ to accomplish their job. Especially if the technology doesn’t support them to be more efficient. Get into the mind of your users. Take an honest look at what they have to do on a daily basis and ask yourself if you are providing the best infrastructure and tools for them to be successful. Making your users happy is important, but keeping upper management happy is paramount. If management realizes they are wasting labor on inefficient processes, you don’t want to be the cause of it.
#4 - Users Start Suggesting or Are Using Other Programs
You have these ‘perfect’ tools and processes in place for everyone to do their job. But then you start to hear users recommending other ways to do things. Whether it’s a different program or a different way to handle data, a good sign that it is time to take a look at your infrastructure is when your users are using other tools than the ones provided. This can be a nightmare to manage and support. One user is using Google docs, another is working off an external hard drive, and some people just don’t know where to put their data. Standardize on your technology. Pick programs or processes that support the majority of your users. Implement it and TRAIN your users how to use it. Adoption of any technology can be difficult.
#5 - Server Resources are being Consumed Past Its Limitations
This is probably one of the easiest ones to react to. But, sometimes the hardest to get in front of. Everything seems to be running like clockwork, then all of a sudden, your data drive has 1% open space left. Or you get a call that people can’t log into the Citrix server. Time to start putting out fires. But what if you could budget and prepare for growth ahead of time? You can, it just takes some checks and balances when it comes to your infrastructure. Do routine checks of server resources. Set quotas on server shares for end users. Make sure your IT processes are efficient and perform to support the size of your user and data workforce.
#6 - Don’t Actively Support a Mobile Workforce
“Get with the times, man!” Mobile data and application usage is the future of computing. Other companies are doing it and giving their users access from anywhere on the globe. Opening that technology to your users can drive productivity and increase the overall profitability of a company. In many cases adopting the mobility model of business is no more expensive than the old technology. Like using Office 365 for email instead of buying and supporting an onsite exchange server. Your users are talking to other companies too and hearing about mobility. Make sure to bring it to the table before your users do.
Becoming content with your IT infrastructure is easy to do. Don’t fix it if it isn’t broken, right? But changing your perception of what ‘broken’ means is the key. Actively review your environment. Take those free lunch and learn meetings. Explore new technologies. You may be surprised how outdated your current technology is. Contact Network Center, Inc. for more information on future technology, free technology presentations, and how we can help you avoid having an outdated IT infrastructure.