Computing for SMB’s: Posture IT to Scale Operations for Rebounding Economy

Businesses emerging from a recession await economic activity to resume scaling revenue.  Market demand emerging from a global pandemic requires a healthy society and safety of public spaces to begin growing economics that scale.  (Surely there is ample pent-up demand per instance.)  In either instance, IT infrastructure poised to offer a hybrid computing environment of on-prem and cloud (with mobile) is necessary to scale production as an economy rebounds.  With Q22021 upon us, municipal microeconomics await a path to reopen their economy.

Here are key points to assess how your business plans to re-open its work environment:

  • Public health of mass transit or parking services to commute to work;
  • Landlord’s efforts to provide public health and touch-free services to common spaces;
  • Landlord’s efforts to improve and monitor air quality within the building;
  • Leverage cloud services to establish hybrid work environment of on-prem, remote, and mobile;
  • Identify, curate, and maintain a secure connection and network, a hardened OS, and secure endpoints;
  • Establish a means to monitor health of the network, endpoints, and cybersecurity.

The goal is to maintain business continuity and worker productivity when unexpected external shocks impact business operations.  Maintain a computing environment for staff working remotely that includes use of mobile devices.  Third Party Vendor Management (TPRM) ensures that vendors are compliant with terms of the service level agreement to maintain continuity and scalability of services when demand spikes.  (For example, Zoom became an Oracle Cloud customer in late March 2020 to support high demand for its services as customers turned to Zoom for remote meetings.)  Securing business continuity and scalable IT services should not occur in a production vacuum when needed; that approach leads to risky and expensive contract terms.  Plan ahead for business continuity (services, staff, funding) to flip the switch to scale use when needed.  Planning poises the business to thrive at favorable contract terms and subscription fees.  Use an array of preferred providers when bandwidth shrinks from market demand.

Broadband and 5G mobile is enabling people to work from anywhere, even workers that reside in remote locations.  Therefore, a hybrid computing environment is necessary to facilitate consistent high productivity.  This hybrid computing environment leverages servers, virtualization, desktops, laptops and mobile.  Successful revision of your computing environment requires careful assessment, planning, and execution.  An IT committee composed of stakeholders from functional departments, the COO, the CIO, CTO, and an external consultant, creates and guides a plan with governance to update the computing environment within 24 months.

Business Analyst. The best way to reach that objective is hire a business analyst to evaluate the need and prepare a detailed report that is submitted to the I.T. committee; the committee evaluates and oversees the computing project.  The BA is trained to identify needs, engineer a solution, and present a report how to achieve the objective.  The BA report includes:

  • Business objectives for the entity; how functional departments contribute to them;
  • Data, file storage, databases, OS and applications used to maintain daily productivity;
  • Posture of prem, cloud services, and mobile connectivity;
  • Objectives of cybersecurity to protect the computing environment;
  • Types of devices connected to network;
  • How network is monitored for health, continuity, and cybersecurity;
  • Staff and funding required to provide the computing environment and to update it;
  • Timeline needed to carry out the update project.

The BA report provides support to the committee about how to proceed to locate, revise, negotiate for, secure the updated network, and scale to a higher percentage of remote operations when needed.  The committee uses the BA report to support their decision-making to sharpen company objectives about future computing needs.  I.T. needs typically translate to re-evaluate the computing environment and TPRM.  Planning the project in detail facilitates a prepared response (what to look for and how to secure it) vs. an unprepared reaction that disrupts operations (dealing with a series of events).  Before commencing this project, it’s recommended to interview heads of functional departments, the COO, CIO, and CTO to assess how your objectives can be met; a one-page summary appended by a matrix of choices can make talking points efficient.  The BA report should include how the computing environment serves staff on-prem, from the cloud, remotely, and from mobile devices.  Service level agreements from vendors should be reviewed by a business attorney highly experienced in negotiating technology service contracts.

Project Management. All the information above becomes decision support to generate a project charter to update the posture of the computing environment.  The I.T. committee has established the scope of the project and its completion date.  There are co-project managers; the CIO (from the IT committee) and the CEO of an MSP as impartial consultant.  Plan for 3-4 weeks of post go-live support to ensure all staff are settled into the updated computing environment and can work productively.

RiSe Solutions slide file at YouTube discusses our approach dubbed ‘Reliable Network”.  I recommend at least 6 months lead time to evaluate the current state of the computing environment at a measured pace; the roll-out should be a term-based project over 12 months.  The I.T. committee and MSP consultant create a project charter to revise the computing environment; a project manager carries out the change over 12 months.  If a change of your SMB’s computing environment is in discussion, I encourage you to contact me to talk it out.  My practice uses ITILv3 practices (e.g., strategy, design, test and implement, ops, continual service improvement).  Please click “Request A Consultation” link at the base of the “Consulting” web page.  Enter “I.T. Update” in the subject line; please include your name, email address and telephone number in the message body; I reply within 24 hours.  Thanks for reading and listening.###

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