Does Your Technology Fit Your Clients Needs?9 Oct, 2009 By: Charles L. Nault imageSource
Does Your Technology Fit Your Clients Needs?
How reliable is your company’s technology network? How about your clients if you are providing them
network services? How are you sure that the right system has been installed and
that it will keep working efficiently daily, warding off viruses, breakdowns and
other threats or dangers? If a system doesn’t appear to be all it should be, how
do you stop the “bleeding” of money in lost productivity?
If these concern you—and it should —you must create real efficiency within
your technology platform by implementing a successful “life-cycle.” This
life-cycle starts with planning its existence, and ultimately ends when the
technology is replaced with something new and more effective. A “healthy”
life-cycle is achieved when your technology performs to its maximum potential
the entire time it is employed to meet the required business needs.
A five-step process for guaranteeing a healthy life-cycle can be
implemented if a specific methodology is followed: assess, implement, train,
support, and review.
Let’s review each one in depth:
When you or your client realizes that an upgrade or addition to any
portion of the infrastructure is needed, the very first step is to determine the
current condition of the network and the ability to incorporate the new
technology into it. For those companies that already have precise, detailed
documentation, this step should be relatively easy. For the many that do not,
they’ll want to outsource for an assessment or consultation.
Companies should keep a thorough record of the current state of their
network with a view toward analyzing the impact of new technology on existing
performance. A full report on all parts of the network is needed as some parts
may be changed or upgraded during the implementation process to support the new
With a thorough assessment in hand, a company can then work towards
the most complicated phase of the cycle, implementation. It’s impossible to
overstress the planning phase of the implementation process. Clients need to be
advised that things can alter and change to find the best fit solutions, so
adopting the end result is a process unfolding.
Planning effectively includes a detailed, documented project plan which
the provider’s team can construct and execute with success. The best leader of a
team is a certified and experienced project manager with a proven track record,
while another key person will likely be the technical director or technician,
someone experienced in implementing office technology.
There should also be a representative of the users of the technology
(client’s primary users) on the team responsible for ongoing support once the
technology is up and running. This important action – to introduce the user to
the new technology, is sometimes left out! This person is often responsible
later for ongoing training of staff on the new equipment, so it can’t be
overemphasized how important it is to include key personnel during the initial
Providers and suppliers often provide training on the equipment they
install. Introductory training can be effective either during, after, or just
before the technology is actually implemented. Customers should not just send an
IT person to a training session on new technology and expect them to be
responsible for its use. Instead, have the (client’s) technical director along
with the manager(s) whose department(s) will be utilizing the new program
present to train on the new system installed.
Office equipment providers should add to their training some very basic
troubleshooting and information-gathering methods to help users should they run
into trouble later. The objective should always be to get the user back to full
production mode as quickly as possible, before making a service call.
Once implemented, supporting the system is the only way to assure that
optimal return on your investment. Two important levels of support are noted:
pro-active and re-active. Pro-active support means real-time monitoring that not
only identifies if the equipment is working or not working but also if there are
conditions affecting the performance of the technology even when not actually
taking it down altogether.
Pro-active monitoring tools can tell you if a similar condition is
occurring in many different types of networking equipment. The more frequently
condition occurs, the more likely that you’ll need to invest in greater
capacity to keep your users happy.
Re-active support of course, is self- explanatory. If you are utilizing
pro-active support, you’ll be alerted that a condition exists to which you must
react. This may be a “down” condition that is already causing some bleeding, or
as discussed, may be something you need to react to in order to prevent down
time. In either case, you must react.
The final phase of the life-cycle process involves the constant review
of the technology implemented. This is multi-faceted. If your client asks, here
is what your client should review and who in their company should review it:
1. Network Performance. This should be a quarterly high level report
viewed by senior management. A pro-active monitoring tool or you, the provider,
can supply this and should include:
a. General network performance and total downtime
b. The number of trouble tickets and mean time to resolve them
c. Any major outages affecting more than 10 percent of users; number of
users affected, duration of the outage
d. Conditions that require additional investment to prevent performance
e. Any network security issues
2. User Satisfaction. What gets measured gets attention. Client measures
this every six months for senior management updates.
3. Technology Advancements. Client should meet on a quarterly basis to
discuss emerging technologies that could accelerate their company’s performance.
Provider should encourage this, of course.
The life-cycle process is simple: assess, implement, train, support, and
review. As the provider, you want your clients’ to assume a fully redundant,
resilient, self-healing network that works. No bleeding, no lost profits. The
technology fits their needs.
Charles L. Nault is author of “Risk-Free
Technology: A Simple Non-Technical Business Owner’s Guide to Stemming Huge
Productivity Losses from Poor Performing Computer Systems.” He’s Chairman of the
Board at Atrion Networking Corp. At 401-736-6400;email@example.com