Do you have an IT deployment strategy? Chances are, if you’re planning to deploy a new technology, you think you have considered every aspect of the process and have a backup plan in case anything goes wrong.
But when you’re new to the game, or are facing a much larger-scale rollout than your IT department has ever handled, such as a national, multi-site, or multi-technology rollout, it can be tough to know where to start.
At Tie National, we’ve helped hundreds of clients successfully manage their IT deployment process, so we’ve seen it all. From delays in sourcing materials to rollouts that take much longer than planned, there are dozens of unforeseen issues that can arise when a business fails to implement a straightforward IT deployment plan.
What are the hurdles for a successful technology deployment?
Technology is changing on a daily basis, and with that change comes more and more efficient ways of doing business. These constant changes, however, can be cumbersome for businesses to wrangle, especially when new technologies must be deployed more and more often to keep company processes from falling behind.
From decisions about what providers to choose, to how to implement new processes, to how to scale operations and measure results, it’s an issue that is top-of-mind, and for a good reason. There are many barriers IT departments face when put in charge of performing an IT deployment strategy; here are just a few.
Scope of Project
The scope of your project is likely the largest hurdle you’ll face early on when developing a technology deployment plan. For organizations with thousands of employees and hundreds of locations on a national scale, just the act of upgrading desktop PCs seems like an impossible task. And for many companies, it is. Most IT departments aren’t built to handle such a workload internally, and don’t have the resources to manage all of the moving elements of a technology rollout. For large-scale upgrades, a professional technology rollout company can make a world of difference.
Dealing with integration after you’ve already started bringing in new technology can create a (mostly avoidable) headache. From mismatches with existing processes to integrating the new technology with legacy systems, you don’t want integration issues messing up your timeline, as it could cost you big. If you’re looking to phase out current platforms, make changes to business functions, or use applications in a different way, make sure you assess compatibility with any new solutions early on.
For most organizations, the IT department is not in sole charge of its own budget. While IT leaders may make recommendations on what would be most beneficial and cost effective, it’s often up to someone else to make the call on what should be spent and how. If you run an IT department, getting funds for technology upgrades should be approached from a long-term corporate strategy standpoint. Presenting the numbers for how a new solution will provide the best returns, versus how much keeping the current systems in place could make the company lose out on, can help put things in perspective.
Most people will agree that once a budget is agreed upon, it’s important that the project doesn’t end up blowing the budget out of the water. Planning ahead is vital to making sure that your technology deployment goes as planned, and that includes being realistic about what you can and can’t afford. Things to consider include how fast your budget can feasibly allow you to deploy new technology, as well as how much it would cost to execute a technology deployment internally versus hiring a company to handle the deployment and equipment sourcing.
Delaying implementation of new business technology due to risks of disruption to the business is never a good idea, as there is no “perfect” time to start this kind of project. It can still be daunting, however, to attempt to weigh the risk of potentially losing customers or substantially disrupting employee tasks with the long-term benefits of new tech. But with proper planning and scheduling, you can prepare for minimum interruptions.
Many organizations focus so much on the process of obtaining and implementing new technology that they forget about the importance of training their staff to use it properly. Users should be looped in early on in the process and not as an afterthought, as the time and costs associated with training will need to be factored into the overall budget.
Most organizations will implement new technology from the top-down, based on budget considerations and high-level strategies, without consulting the people who will actually be using the technology. Some employees can be resistant to change if they don’t understand the reasoning behind it or think their current technology is sufficient. Other times, the technology you think your employees need might not be the best fit from a useability standpoint. By engaging with the people who will be using the solutions, employees are much more likely to jump on board.
It’s not difficult to understand why a company might need new technology in order to compete in an ever-evolving business world. But to truly understand the cost versus benefit of new IT equipment and software, you need a metric for how you’re going to measure success. This not only gives your IT deployment strategy a focus, but gives you a way to determine what went right, what went wrong, and how you can improve in the future. Also, if an IT department can prove that the investment into new technology was worth the expense, management will be more likely to trust in the process the next time around.
How to Create a Successful IT Deployment Strategy
Implementing new technology is about more than just navigating hurdles, however. There are also things you can do to make sure your technology rollout is not only completed on time and under budget but also in a way that maximizes results through the use of best practices.
So, how do you know what the best practices are for technology deployment in an ever-changing tech landscape? While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to a technology deployment strategy, there are a number of things that any company can do to ensure a successful IT deployment.
Determine the Problem You’re Trying to Solve
Most technology upgrades are something that needs to be done sooner or later. Computers reach the end of their useful life, licenses and warranties expire, and equipment becomes obsolete. But upgrading your technology to increase productivity, keep up with the competition, or address your pain points is another matter. Knowing what you’re looking for is important because once you’ve identified the problem you’re trying to solve, you can identify the solution. Not every piece of new technology is right for every business, so it’s important to do your due diligence before you ever start implementation planning.
Identify Your Implementation Team and Key Players
Once you understand your needs and what it will take to make it happen, you need to identify the key players. From stakeholders to managers to members of the IT department, you need to determine who is in charge of what tasks internally. Externally, keeping tabs on the consulting groups, project managers, and vendors you’re working with is also crucial. Choose these companies with care, because external factors will play a big role in the success of your technology deployment.
Communicate the Vision and Goals of the Project
At this point, you have likely determined the scope of your project, how you will measure success, and what the timeline looks like. Once those elements are established, you need to effectively communicate the details of the project to your employees and end users. Employees will not only want to know why the change is coming, but what exactly it will look like. What tools will be changed, what processes will be updated, and what sort of timeline they can expect are all questions that staff will have, and it’s important you be prepared to answer them with both clarity and excitement.
Make Time to Analyze and Adjust
Just like you shouldn’t sprint headfirst into IT upgrades without a plan, you should never start a deployment process without knowing how you will measure success. Set up key performance indicators at the beginning of the process so that you can have data to analyze. Once the flurry of activity is over, it’s a good practice to review your data to see if you’re meeting your goals or if something needs tweaking—without this step, you could be missing out on more ways to improve your infrastructure.
Utilize an IT Deployment Checklist
Before you can begin the IT deployment process, it’s important to understand what needs to be done each step of the way so you’re not caught in a bind later on. Tie National has supplied an IT deployment checklist at the bottom of this blog to help you prepare.
Need a custom IT deployment strategy? Tie National can help.
When you need a technology deployment plan, connect with Tie National, providers of national IT management, solutions, and support. Our professionals can help you launch new technology across multiple platforms and locations with our seamless IT deployment services. We can help coordinate your rollout from start to finish and have all of the experience needed to ensure a smooth transition and a successful deployment process.
By choosing Tie National as your technology rollout partner, you will gain access to a large network of resources that can assist with both small scale and national rollout projects. We will provide you with a team who can handle everything from orders to coordination to logistics, documentation, and other management services. When you’re looking to maximize your business’s efficiency with a successful IT deployment, your journey can start and end with Tie National. Get in contact with us today to learn more!
Our IT Deployment Checklist
Identify Your IT Deployment Objectives
- What needs to be done?
- What will the rollout accomplish?
- How will I measure the effectiveness of the new solution?
Identify the Timeline for Completion
- During the IT deployment process will there be two systems running—what are the caveats of having two systems?
- What date does your full conversion need to be completed? Having your deployment complete before this date so you have time to address any unforeseen issues.
- Be conscious of your budget: faster deployments cost more upfront, but slow deployments create more support and soft costs in the long run.
Create a Preliminary Scope of Work
- What devices need to be installed?
- Is programming required?
- Will passwords be given to the local installer, or need to be handled by a smaller group?
- Is there any prep work to be done before deployment (cable runs, survey of existing equipment, etc.)?
- What deliverables do you require to ensure the deployment is completed properly?
Source Your Material
- How much material will you need?
- Will you purchase all of the equipment upfront, or can you purchase as needed?
- Will you be making direct purchases or using a reseller? This is important when considering warranty issues and extra labor due to failed equipment, as issues like this are covered if you use the reseller as the installer.
- Are there licensing fees and expirations that need to be considered? For example, you do not want to purchase a 1-year license today just to have the product installed in 6 months—you will lose 6 months of licensing.
Source Your Labor
- Who will be plugging in the equipment (staff or hired technicians)?
- Who will be tracking the material (internal PM or hired company)?
- Who will be communicating with the field on timing and material deliveries (internal PM or hired company)?
- Who will be answering questions for the onsite staff/technician (internal IT or hired IT company)?
- If license registration is required, who will register the license (technician/staff, internal IT, or hired company)?
- If you choose to handle your labor in-house, how will it affect your current operations during this deployment? Will more staff be needed?
Budget Your Project
- How much money will the new solution save you, if any?
- What are the potential costs if you do not move to the new solution? Normally, you can estimate what efficiencies the new solution will provide your team.
- How fast will your budget allow you to deploy? This is a time vs money decision.
- What would it cost you to handle the rollout internally vs hiring a company who can handle the deployment and equipment sourcing?