There comes a time in the life of every business when something needs to change with your IT. Whether your equipment is outdated, your processes are ineffective, or your entire IT system is simply failing, eventually you cross a line. Issues you were able to ignore before have suddenly gone on too long, and it’s time for a major fix.
When you're ready to design a new network environment for your business, you’re probably eager to get going and solve the problems you’ve been dealing with for so long. But designing a new IT infrastructure isn’t as easy as just buying some new equipment. If you’re going to invest in an IT upgrade, do it in a way that enhances and optimizes your business operations.
The best way to start is to go through an in-depth discovery process.
Once the discovery process is complete, it’s time to begin designing your new network environment. There are many options out there, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. How do you zero in on which options are right for your business? By knowing the answers to the seven questions below, you can determine your company’s exact IT needs, and then implement solutions that will meet those needs.
Pinpoint your network environment needs with these seven questions:
1. What is our IT environment currently missing?
What challenges and pain points made you want to overhaul your network? Chances are, those are the critical IT elements your business is missing. Whether you need increased security, a better Recovery Point Objective, or better integration with mobile devices, determine where your business’s biggest IT gaps lie. Knowing which holes are most important to fill will make subsequent decisions a bit easier.
2. How do we want to work with our technology?
How do our employees use technology today, and how do we need them to use it in the future? This is an important question to nail down as we look at how many companies were affected by a new remote workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic. The shift from in-office to remote work forced many companies to enable collaboration tools like Teams, roll out soft phones for telephony, and deploy laptops with VPN remote access tools – often in a rushed manner.
The remote work trend isn’t going anywhere, so if you’re planning on increasing your remote workforce or implementing new processes and policies, you need to consider the best ways to not only integrate these new technologies with your network, but keep everything safe, secure, and optimized.
3. What is our IT management strategy?
Do you work with a third party IT firm, have an internal team, or employ a single person to manage your IT? No matter who’s on your IT team, examine whether your current strategy is working for your business. Are you getting the monitoring and support you need to truly operate smoothly? Do you have any security concerns? When you need IT help, can you get it right away?
4. How does our network environment support our business strategy?
Today, IT is fully integrated into the lives of most businesses. Are you trying to grow within the next several years? Consider those goals closely when designing your network environment. This will allow you to plan ahead and implement scalable solutions that fit seamlessly with your ever-evolving business needs.
5. What cyber security risks are we facing?
Your business risks play a significant role in how you run your company, and they should also influence your IT decisions. Consider factors such as data storage and regulatory requirements. Does your current network environment alleviate these risks, or contribute to them? What needs to change in order to reduce or eliminate these risks?
6. Should our network environment be hosted in the cloud?
For companies today, doing away with on-prem servers and moving to the cloud is a no-brainer. Cloud hosting for your network environment provides a long list of benefits for companies, including cost savings, agility, and IT simplicity.
With more companies embracing remote work schedules, it’s crucial for employees to have access to their files no matter the time or place, so consider if these are priorities for your team.
7. How will we fund this project?
Before you start making any major decisions about your network environment, you should know where the capital is coming from. A new network infrastructure is an important investment to make for the continued growth of your company, and you’ll want to ensure that you have enough funds to see the project all the way through.
The Best Network Environment for Your Business
Answering these questions can start you out in the right direction when designing a new, or improving an existing, business network environment.
If answering these questions on your own seems overwhelming, trained business network experts can guide you through the process and help you design a network environment that works for your business to meet your goals.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on July 5, 2017, and has been updated for accuracy and current best practices.