Merriam-Webster defines downtime as a “time when you are not working or busy.” We all love a weekend with lots of downtimes. But when that downtime involves idling or crippling business, it tends to make us sweat.
So, let me ask you a few questions about downtime at your place of business. When was the last time your company experienced an interruption of technology resources? How often do you experience that kind of downtime? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Is it unexpected or planned? What are your contingency plans for continuing business when the technology you depend on is unavailable? How much money is lost when business is halted by technology problems? If you are scratching your head trying to figure out the answers to some of these questions, have no fear. You are not alone!
Technology has so infiltrated our lives that we take them for granted. We often forget the complexity of those systems, and what is required to keep them running smoothly. Something like sending and receiving email seems so simple on the surface, yet it involves many layers of communication across multiple computers, servers and networks. Information Technology is a complex ecosystem with many individuals, complex systems that all interconnect and communicate with one another. How we choose to manage those systems can be the difference between success and bankruptcy.
Click and pray? Wait for the technological Armageddon to end our business? Run around with the technical equivalent of a fire extinguisher putting out fires? Let’s not. Rather, let’s take a proactive approach to managing our technology, and take control of it rather than letting it control us. Ah, you say. He’s just using metaphors to hide his real goal. Sell more technology! My answer? Yes, I am talking about spending money. Spending money in a planned, proactive way that helps maintain stable, dependable, smoothly functioning information services. Let’s look at an example.
Many of us try to equate the lifetime of a computer to that of a typewriter. When you bought a typewriter, you could expect ten years or far longer out of it. In fact, I still see some of the old IBM electric typewriters from the 80s, and they work fine. We often try to do the same thing with computer technology, and that simply is not possible. Technology changes rapidly. My three-year-old computer is four to five generations old already. The programs that worked fine on my computer three years ago do not function as well after upgrading to the latest version. Also, I have three years of “road miles” on the operating system of the computer that makes it slower and less efficient. All this combined means that the longer I use my computer, the slower—and more frustrating—it becomes. Ever heard someone say, “I turn on my computer, then go get coffee while it starts?”
By proactively replacing our computers, we can help eliminate problems before they happen. I recommend a 5-year rotation schedule for standard use computers and a 3-year rotation for computer-aided design (CAD) and other high-end computing. By proactively replacing computers on this schedule, age-related problems are reduced, and we have a predictable schedule for expenses. Fewer problems, and more likely spending. Sound right?
This same approach can be applied to all of the network technology in your business.
Some shorter, and some longer. When you try to push beyond the useful lifespan, you usually end up with more problems and this usually leads to money being spent in a random manner. Unless you work in the information technology industry, knowing how to manage your technology can be a terrifying proposition. This is where a good Managed Service Provider (MSP) can add significant value.
An MSP is different than your traditional technology company. An MSP becomes your IT department, and partners with you to make educated decisions about the technology in your business. Many companies play at being an MSP, but few are doing what it takes to be a good MSP. Here are a few things to consider when looking at technology support:
A proactive approach to technology does not have to be difficult, but it does take time. Allow yourself to focus on developing your business, and find a technology partner you can trust to do the rest.
Looking to implement a new line of business applications or replace an old server? With our approach to IT project delivery, we help prevent scope creep and keep budgets in line with budgeted project costs.