A Warm Fuzzy Feeling
In uncertain times there are things that
you want to feel certain of. If your IT systems underpin your business
activities then there’s no better time for a review.
Start by looking at your realigned key
business objectives. Your IT has to fall in with line to support your business
needs not the other way around. Do you have a lot of mobile workers, home
workers, or is your workforce office based? Are you reliant on key applications
or multiple applications, perhaps needs differ across departments.
If you have a mobile workforce, or a lot
of home workers, review if they can connect securely to your network. Being able
to facilitate remote system access to a number of workers can add huge value to
your business. As an employer you can accommodate home working and flexible
working and benefit from lower overheads.
Research shows that in these situations employees are likely to be more
diligent and work additional hours than contracted. During February’s snow
storms over 6 million workers stayed off work; just imagine if they had the
ability to work from home.
Your servers, are they old and
struggling? Are they squeaking, do they fall over (by this I mean do they die
frequently rather than become unbalanced). Can they last another year? I would
say that if you are thinking along those lines, then it is time to renew now.
If a server is under-performing your workers are under-performing. On the
flipside if you have high-end servers and are thinking you need another, are you
looking carefully enough at the utilisation? Most high end servers are run at
only 25% of their capacity. In this instance deploying a virtualised solution,
rather than buying a new server, can quadruple the amount of processes you run
on one server and at considerably lower costs.
Hardware - it should be cost efficient,
eco-efficient and sustainable. I’m not advocating going out and buying the
latest hardware just because the latest models have a better energy-efficiency
rating, but you should plan for the future. For now, just look at what you have
and how it is used.
Does the receptionist have the latest,
greatest model because their machine broke last? Is your graphic designer
struggling on an old AppleMac G2. An assessment of application and processing
demands and migration of desktops down the chain is a far more effective
Laptops are great if you have mobile
workers but if they are only taken home once a month then is it not cost
effective. Fixed workstations with larger monitors deliver greater productivity.
Not only are these units are cheaper, especially if you have Thin Client
PC’s, they are more easy to secure and less easy to steal. If you do have the
misfortune to suffer a burglary then thieves always take the lightweight option.
By all means have a pool laptop for shared use, as and when required.
With security in mind reviewing your
internal policies would also pay dividends just now. It should be standard
practice for all data to be stored on the server, where it is secure, current
and backed up. Thin Client computing
is a fabulous technology that unobtrusively enforces this.
Antivirus is a must, is comes
pre-installed in most machines these days, but is yours up-to-date. Have you
downloaded the latest up-dates and software patches, are you as protected as you
could be. The Conficker-C worm, a current, rather virulent threat, has infected
over 15 million machines over the net so far. It can wipe out your workforce,
giving the author the ability to control your desktops, servers, the full scope
of which is still unknown. This can be inadvertently contracted by something as
simple as a staff downloading an infected file. Many businesses are putting
policies in place to restrict internet access to social networking and
non-business sites during business hours, limiting access to lunch breaks.
These are perhaps considered as some of
the more obvious aspects of an IT review. Obvious - absolutely. Effective - most