Sun, Nov 7 2004 12:32
Stable Tech... Manure In Equals Manure Out
Are you frustrated by technology in your business? Are you the IT contractor or IT person in a small business that can’t get the boss to focus on the businesses technology needs? You are not alone and here are a few tips on how to address these issues.
Strategies for Dependable Small Business Computing -
- Sending the Hens to Campbell’s
In just about every culture around the world the egg is a common food. We raise chickens for what they produce with the understanding that one day the productivity will drop off and the chickens are sent to noodle soup. As brutal as it is, the reality is you spend money to feed chickens but they aren’t producing like a new round of chickens will. Ask a commercial egg producer how long they keep their chickens and they will tell you what the cycle time is and how they plan accordingly so they are not caught off guard. After all, the demand for eggs is very predictable and a successful producer never lets his productivity drop.
So what is the point of raising a chicken and egg conversation in an article about dependable computing? Well consider your business something that consumes productivity. An egg eater if you will. Consider your computers the chickens with a life span of usefulness and finally consider how Egg producers plan to maintain the highest levels of productivity. If an egg producer were to run your business, do you think he would wait for the computer to crash before it was replaced? Or do you think he would have a consistent cycle that related to the productivity of his business?
Let’s take a look at how the employees of a business fit in. After all when a business gets busy the tendency is to hire more people. What happens if everyone is busier than ever but the amount of business you are doing hasn’t changed. Really the employees are the food that keeps your business going.
Chicken feed and an employee’s effort are similar in that they are fairly consistent business resources. If we look at the chicken example again, increasing the amount of employees to raise a business’ productivity is really like feeding your chickens more to get more eggs. With young chickens, you give them the same amount of feed and they produce more eggs. With computer and software, an employee can apply the same amount of effort and produce more. There are two points to this line of thought. First, if you need more people you need more technology to make the use of effort efficient. Second, replace your computers on a schedule so that your employee’s effort remains efficient.
Dependable computing is really about applying the same principles humanity has used for thousands of years. Planning actually reduces complexity and increases predictability of your businesses computing needs. Finally it increases productivity.
It is much easier to go into each year understanding that you are going to make an investment in technology. Budget for replacing units and strategic initiatives where you implement new productivity enhancements.
We have all seen the pictures of fifty settlers helping to raise a barn in a show of community. It is a big project and many hands make short work. Each neighbor not only contributed her effort but also her expertise and experience. When it comes to raising barns, you only want to do it once so any expertise and experience is welcomed and sought after.
All it took was letting the neighbors know that you were raising a barn and they would show up to help. Wouldn’t it be great if this applied when you are implementing an IT project? Well, in fact it does.
What would happen if you told all your neighbors you were having a barn raising but you only had the clap boards to cover the building and none of the timbers to make the structure? Like all projects planning is a part of it. If you are going to build a barn you have to plan the year before to cut down the timbers so that the wood has time to cure.
As strange as it is, many small business have no idea what technology they are going to need in two years let alone for the next five. As a result, often IT projects get started without the foundations in place and they have a high failure rate. Really what has happened is the neighbors show up but the timbers are still in the forest.
A strategic IT plan is really a blueprint and a materials list that covers your goals and how you plan to get there. It is also notice to the neighbors of your intentions. Finally, it sets your expectations for costs and justifies the expenses. With today’s small business the neighbors are vendors and consultants as well as the employees of your business. If you give them notice and prepare accordingly, they are going to show up for the raising and your IT projects will bring you the fruits of your labor.
The more things change the more things stay the same. Since the dawn of humanity our survival has hinged on our ability to predict and plan for the future. Although you can perpare a strategic plan internally it is often best to use a consultant that focuses on technology and can bring expertise to the table. As a business owner, a strategic IT plan that includes a budget, should be a high priority for this fiscal year.
Those small businesses that think of technology strategically and prepare accordingly will take the manure out of their stable technology platforms. If you think ahead you can bet the farm on IT.