IT Strategic Planning for 2021 and Beyond

Strategic IT Planning is a collaborative process taken with clients to understand their business needs and goals, that ultimately allows the IT budget to appropriately align with the organizational priorities. As 2021 is quickly approaching, it’s time to start planning to ensure you hit next year’s IT goals. If you haven’t yet done any sort of strategic IT planning, check out these tips to help get you started before the new year 

 

#1 – Asset Management  

Identify what equipment is currently performing well and what might need to be replaced to continue ensuring that work operations are happening at maximum efficiency. This step typically involves gathering all your company’s hardware and software inventory information and completing an IT audit. From there, your internal IT department or an MSP like Five Nines can identify and fill in technology gaps to minimize downtime. 

#2 – Document End-of-Support vs. End-of-Life Dates  

An end-of-support date means the product provider has decided to no longer provide a support line, while the end-of-life date is a term to describe when a product is no longer for sale. Knowing and documenting these dates for all of your equipment will ensure future IT audits run smoothly and unexpected surprises do not arise. Surprises can range from compromised data security, decreased productivity, higher maintenance costs, non-compliance issues, and problems with scalability just to name a few.  

#3 – IT Risk Assessment  

The end of the year is a great time to run an IT Risk Assessment. In this process, you’ll look at what was effective and ineffective in your IT infrastructure this yearCreate a series of questions that assess your standards, guidelines, and best practices. Use the same assessment on an annual basis to begin to understand where the gaps are and how to best fill them.  

#4 – Consider your talent  

Whether it’s an IT services partner or an internal team member, decide who you need on your team to execute the strategy you’ve developed for your business. If you’re needing to bring in an external partner or new hire, you’ll want to include this cost in your overall budget and consider what the return on the investment may be. 

#5 – Budgeting  

With remote work being heavily prevalent right now, you should ask yourself these questions: do you feel like the year went smoothly from a technology standpoint and did your workforce transition seamlessly from work to home? If not, you may want to consider budgeting for more equipment or services that could alleviate some pressure from your teams. 

Topics: End of Life, Business Continuity, Strategic Planning, End of Support

Unplug over the Holidays - Leave "IT" to an MSP

The truth is, you can never really unplug from business if your IT infrastructure is not fully supported. With the holiday season right around the corner, we encourage you to unplug over the holidays and leave your technology in the hands of a capable Managed Services team. Continue reading to see what services you could count on by partnering with Five Nines throughout the holiday season and beyond.  

 

24 / 7 / 365  

Your company’s IT is not an 8-5 job and it never will be. Every single day of the year, it requires 24-hour monitoring so your organization can continue to drive revenue while reducing costs and risks. An on-call engineer is a great resource to keep an eye out for suspicious activity and minimize downtime for your organization. Knowing that your business' technology is being monitored for you will help you and your coworkers really unplug over the holidays.  

Controlled IT Costs  

IT spending is becoming more of a strategic move by most businesses and investing in the right technology is something you must plan ahead for. Your IT team should provide you with 1 – 3 – 5 year budgets so your organization isn’t faced with unexpected costs as you are budgeting for the next year throughout the holiday season. Long-term budgeting and planning will give you peace of mind towards the end of the year as the direction of your IT infrastructure is more controlled and defined.  

Focus on your Core Business  

As the end of the year approaches quickly, it’s essential to focus on the things that matter most before the new year – your core business. Leaving it up to the IT pros has become the common trend when it comes to specialized departments because organizations want to stay more focused on their day-to-day functions and finish the year strong. It can be extremely beneficial to have an MSP worrying about your business technology for you so you can really unplug during the holidays.  

Topics: Outsourced IT, Strategic Planning

2019's IT Trends Have Been Revealed

2019w 

Did you know 83% of businesses expect their IT spending to grow or remain steady in 2019? Responses from 625 IT decision makers across the United States and Canada reflect confidence in 2019 with strong IT budgets, trends, and a focus on future technology.

Skills, support, and budgets are key to success when it comes to your technology. In this report, we analyze 2019 business IT trends by exploring:

  • Challenges and Contributors to IT Projects
  • IT Budgets by Industry and Company Size
  • Overarching Trends

Download the full report to discover how successful organizations are investing in and transforming their IT throughout 2019.

Click Here For The Full Report

 

This report is in partnership with Dell. 

Topics: Business Continuity, Strategic Planning, Tech Trends, 2019

The Importance of IT Documentation

DOCUMENTATION

In all aspects of business, there is typically some form of documentation. You could be tracking certain numbers for goal completion, documenting budgets, or analyzing metrics for performance purposes. Just like anything else in your business, documentation of your IT environment is a necessary step to keeping your business technology current and up-to-date.

Documentation helps to identify trends, and having the visibility into the trends of your technology will put your organization's IT at a competitive advantage. Here is what your IT team should be keeping a record of when tracking the happenings of your IT environment.

 

ALL SUPPORT ISSUES

It's important to have a record of all day-to-day issues your employee's are experiencing with their technology. It's extremely helpful to look at the most common tickets that are inputted when determining future IT strategies. Documentation helps provide a visual into whether one consistent issue is happening across multiple users, or if the same issue is happening to the same user more than once.

Having this cohesive record of support issues will also help your IT team determine how they can best accommodate your users. For example, if a user's computer is slow for a consistent amount of time, it may be time for an upgrade. Another way documentation can assist your IT team is when repetitive issues arise. If there is previous documentation of the same issue, an IT professional will have more insight into solving the same problem quickly, and may be able to determine a more permanent solution as well.

Not sure what this looks like for your organization? Click below to schedule a FREE technical walk through to better understand your IT environment, no strings attached! 

Click Here For A Free Technical Walk-Through

 

INVENTORY

Product Orders. Ordering new products for your IT environment is a very common occurrence, especially if you have multiple users or if you are consistently bringing in new talent. Keeping an up-to-date list of what products your IT team is ordering will help you make more informed decisions when having to sign off on ordering new products. Understanding what you already have, as well as what you plan to order in the near future, will keep your budget on track and your stress level low.

Your Entire Environment. Documenting your entire IT environment will help to paint a comprehensive picture of how all of your technology works together to support your business. Your IT team will have a list they can pull from when making decisions on whether to upgrade your technology, how to improve your infrastructure, and how to piece everything together within your network. You will also be able to understand what you already have, to narrow down what you may need in the future. Not only will this give you peace of mind, it could save your IT team a lot of time when asking questions regarding your IT environment.

As your organization works to improve and streamline technical processes and procedures, be sure your IT team goes the extra mile in terms of documentation practices. The more you have documented, the more visibility you will have into your business technology. That alone is worth the extra time. 

Having an understanding of the basic functions of your network will be helpful when determining IT documentation practices. Click below to download the Five Nines Power Hour: Building An Optimal Network, a webinar that will teach you all about network basics, network design (the good and the bad), as well as troubleshooting and monitoring.

Watch the Optimal Network Webinar

Topics: Tech Solutions, Strategic Planning

It's Officially 2019: Set Your IT Goals

IT Goals Blog

2019 is the year to make your technology a business asset if it isn't already. Sometimes, that can be easier said than done. Just like you set your new year's resolutions, however, you can set your IT goals now to implement throughout the year.

If you'd like to skip straight to a Five Nines Power Hour about utilizing your IT as an asset, click below:

IT As An Asset

Now that it is officially the new year, it's time to set your IT goals. Here's how you can set attainable goals, budget for your technology, and make your IT an asset in 2019.

 

SET ATTAINABLE AND MEASURABLE GOALS

To set attainable and measurable goals where you will gain the most benefit, you must first set your IT priorities. You may want to put a strong focus on your IT security, or improve your internal/external processes with specific pieces of technology. Maybe, you want to give your company a competitive edge by utilizing IT to decrease downtime. You could also put a focus on the current IT trends that drive business efficiencies such as Wi-Fi networking technology, IT automation, or updating your IT infrastructure and software.

According to the 2019 State of IT study, larger organizations (5,000+ employees) are more likely to adopt newer technology trends because of their needs and budget size. Smaller organizations, however, are trying to improve their current infrastructure and processes. Be sure to set goals that are a good fit for your organization, and focus on how you would like to see your business technology compliment organizational success. Ensuring that all goals are able to be measured and tracked is also a key component to this process.

Related: IT Strategic Planning for 2019 and Beyond

 

BUDGETING AND PLANNING

Goal implementation is best complimented by budgeting and planning. It may be helpful to sit down with your IT team to develop a preliminary 1/3/5 year budget plan, so you have a direction of where your business technology is headed. According to Spiceworks, the need to upgrade outdated IT infrastructures is the biggest driver of IT budget increases in 2019. With a budget plan, you will have the ability to anticipate these expenses before they happen.

After surveyed, 89% of companies expect their IT budgets to grow or remain steady in 2019. This year, smaller businesses are making significant increases to their hardware budgets, while large enterprises are increasing their cloud budgets. While both are valuable, it all depends on your type of organization. Just as you set goals that are right for your business, you must also allocate an appropriate budget plan as well.

 

MAKE IT AN ASSET

To make your IT a true organizational asset, put a strong focus on planning, tracking, training, and documentation when trying to meet and plan for your tech goals.

Internal IT Audit: Audit your current IT environment by determining what resources you already have, as well as what you may need in the future.

Disaster Recovery Plan: If something were to go awry, is your data backed up and secure? Take the time to develop a detailed disaster recovery plan that you can follow in the event of an emergency.

User Awareness Training: Train your users on best practices when navigating the web, or how to spot potentially malicious emails.

Download The Social Engineering Red Flags Flier

Consistent Strategic Planning: Take time each quarter to strategically analyze your business technology, and track the progress of your goals.

Documentation: Be sure to document everything, whether it is consistent tech issues that arise, metrics that coincide with your goals, or your month-to-month budget.

While it may seem like a lot of preparation, the more you put in to your business technology the more you will gain from it. Make 2019 your year to set and achieve the tech goals that will benefit your organization. Don't want to do it all alone? Click here.  

 

What does it look like when IT becomes an asset? Click below for the free Five Nines Power Hour "IT As An Asset", as we dive into IT responsibilities, service requests and security, as well as technology standards, budgeting, and IT training and knowledge.

Click Here For The Free Webinar

 

Topics: IT, Equipment, Strategic Planning, 2019

Unplug Over The Holidays: Leave "IT" To A Managed Services Provider

Unplugging Blog-2

There are only a few times throughout the year when it is encouraged to unplug from work. Where you should spend time with family, eat too much food, and unplug from your phone and email. I think you know where we are going with this… it's almost officially the holiday season.

How unplugged will you really be over the holidays, if you are constantly worried about your business technology? The truth is, you can never really unplug from the chaos if your IT infrastructure is not fully supported.

We encourage you to unplug over the holidays, and leave your IT in the hands of a capable Managed IT Services team. What services should you be able to count on this holiday season?

24/7/365

Your technology is not an 8am-5pm job and it never will be. It requires 24 hour monitoring, every single day of the year so that your organization can not only stay protected, but competitive and efficient as well. On-call engineers are also a great resource as they help to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity within your IT environment. If something were to go awry, they are there to respond. According to Ponemon Institute, only a third of organizations believe they have adequate resources to manage security effectively. That statistic is enough to keep a decision maker awake at night. Knowing that an IT team is monitoring your business technology for you will help you and your coworkers to really unplug over a holiday.

CONTROLLED IT COSTS

Your IT team should provide you with 1 - 3 - 5 year budgets so that your organization isn't faced with unexpected costs as you are budgeting for the next year throughout the holiday season. Technology is not going to slow down in the professional world, so it's best to have your IT spending for the next year determined ahead of time before the new year creeps up on you. According to a study conducted by Spiceworks, 89% of companies expect their IT budgets to grow or stay the same over the next 12 months. IT spending is becoming a strategic move by most businesses, and investing in the right technology is something that you must plan ahead for. Long-term budgeting and planning will give you peace of mind towards the end of the year as the direction of your IT environment is more controlled and defined.

Want to learn more about how to make your technology a strategic business asset? Sit back, grab some popcorn, and click below to download the FREE Five Nines webinar, "IT As An Asset".

Click Here To Access The Free Webinar

FOCUS ON YOUR CORE BUSINESS

Time is limited, you don't want to take the extra time to worry about your IT efforts, especially as the end of the year approaches. Leaving it up to the pros has become the common trend when it comes to specialized departments as a study showed in 2017, 57% of organizations increased their use of outsourcing. There was a huge increase because organizations wanted to stay focused on their core business. This can be extremely beneficial when you have an IT team worrying about your business technology for you. No more working late nights or long hours trying to squeeze in time to prioritize the direction of your IT, it will all be handled for you, and you can have a more stress-free holiday season.

The end of the year approaches quickly, as does the craziness of the holiday season. Rather than juggling a million things at once, leave your IT to the professionals and really unplug during your time away from the office. Focus on the things that matter most before the new year.

Are you ready to unplug over the holiday season? Click below to schedule a free technical walk-through, no strings attached!

Click Here For A Free Technical Walk-Through

Topics: Outsourced IT, Managed IT Services, Business Continuity, Strategic Planning

IT Strategic Planning for 2019 and Beyond

Strategy Blog

2019 will be here before we know it, is your technology accounted for? In order to keep a well-maintained IT environment, you must make your technology a part of your annual strategic efforts. As the new year creeps closer, it's time to start thinking about your IT strategic planning for this next year. How can you do this? Where should you start?

Guide your strategic planning conversations with the touch points below to set yourself up for success in 2019.

 

GOAL SETTING

When it comes to strategic planning, an initial objective should be sitting down to establish effective goal setting. This is such an important aspect of general business, and the same should apply to your business technology. According to The Economist Intelligence Unit, executives see technology as their #1 business challenge. Identifying and discussing goals can help to conquer the technical challenges that seem impossible or difficult to face. We recommend sitting down and discussing any upcoming goals or changes you have to your technical environment for the next 18-24 months. To further your discussion, identify the strengths and weaknesses that will contribute to the success of your IT infrastructure. Things may need to be adjusted over the 18-24 month period, but your organization will continue to have clear goals and expectations when it comes to your business technology.

Want tips on how to discuss the need for strategic IT with your organization's decision makers? Click below to download our free guide on How To Sell Managed IT Services To Your Decision Makers.

Click here to download the free guide

 

 

 

FOCUS ON EQUIPMENT

Take some time to assess all of your IT equipment. You will want to take note of how your equipment is currently performing, the age of the hardware, gather all EOS and EOL dates, and work with your IT team to forecast when certain pieces of technology will need to be replaced. Inventory all hardware or anything that has a renewal date such as a warranty, domain, or SSL certificate so you can stay ahead of the curve. Having this information on hand will help you to prepare a full IT budget that will also align with the goals you are setting.

 

PREPARE YOUR BUDGET

To forecast well in advance, map out a 3 year budget to go along with your strategic planning. This will include any equipment that will need to be replaced in that time frame, an estimation of renewal prices based on vendor recommendations or past renewals, IT projects you have coming up the pipeline, as well as any partnership agreements or paid IT employees you will have. According to Boardview, 60% of organizations do not link their strategic priorities to their budget, yet 88% say successfully executing initiatives in order to deliver strategic results is essential for competitiveness. Successfully executing IT strategies will require an alignment of your goals and your budget. The more you can map out ahead of time, the more you can act on the goals you have set for your IT environment which will set you up for success in the long run.

Continue to better your IT environment with strategic planning so you can stay ahead of the curve and increase your organizational up-time in 2019 and beyond. Start with a goal setting discussion, run inventory on all of your equipment, and move forward with preparing a 3 year IT budget. The more intentional you are about your technology, the more impactful it will be for your organization.

 

Want to implement a true strategic IT plan? Click below to request a free IT assessment from Five Nines. We will come to your office and assess your workplace technology, no strings attached!

Click here to request a free IT assessment

 

Topics: Managed IT Services, Business Continuity, Strategic Planning