How To Make an IT Planning Checklist: Here’s What’s Important

Do you have an IT Planning Checklist? Are you keeping track of developing IT? We can talk through these questions to get a clear idea of why certain items should be in your plans for 2022. We will quickly mention four key areas, and then, if you are up for it, we will go into more detail. 

It would be best if you started with your infrastructure because that is the base of everything. Your infrastructure covers internet providers, data centers, licensing required for Windows servers, managing your remote endpoints, and telephony.  

Cybersecurity is just as critical. What good is your infrastructure if it is not secure? Some keywords to keep in mind are Zero Trust to secure devices connected to your network and SOC (Security Operations Center) to monitor your devices.  

Related post: How to Optimize Your Microsoft 365 Business Premium Security Features 

Take a breath. There are a couple more services you should consider.  

Low-Code Applications and Data Analytics are now commonplace. Customer portals and automated workflows make your work processes seamless. We suspect some of your employees and some of your customers plan to work outside of the office. Old communication processes will not be effective. Add electronic bill pay or a customer portal to give your customers a wonderful experience.  Add mobile apps to enable your employees to work from anywhere. Each person has a specific place and responsibility in moving your organization forward. Charts and visualizations help you sift through any disconnect. When you better understand data, accountability is more transparent. 

Analytics is great because it allows your organization to see ahead.  Your competitors analyze performance with analytical tools; remember that.  

How do you stay afloat when IT is constantly changing? We can only try our best to keep up.  Technology brings everyone into the future, but the upgrades across infrastructure, cybersecurity, apps, and analytics can be challenging. You can always keep your organization in the right direction through training! When you purchase training, choose a partner that can ensure your organization benefits from it, including skills validation and training tracking, and ongoing mentoring to stay current. 

 Write Down What is Important  

The decisions you make in the areas we mentioned above will help your organization have a solid start to the new year. The time to sustain your organization throughout 2022 by optimizing specific products and services is now. 

We know closing gaps between where you are and where you plan to be is always on your mind. And any to-do list can become daunting when you try to figure out how you will reach your goals. The roadmap you take may not be without error, but it does not have to be painful. As you get organized in a meaningful and intentional way, you release stress. 

Let’s talk in more detail about what to be aware of and how to benefit from your infrastructure, cybersecurity, apps and analytics, and training; so you may better serve your organization, customers, and community.  

Amazing! There Are Alternative Connections Than the One You Use  

No one plans for the internet to go out, and that is the disconnect. If you have an unsteady internet provider, the disruption it causes goes beyond what you can see. For example, your employees can be left at work feeling bored, busy, stressed, or tired. 

There are reasons to have two providers with many critical functions; if one provider goes down, your internet will automatically “failover” to the other. Failover means your secondary internet provider automatically kicks in, maintaining your connection without a beat. Alex Melching, Sr. Cloud Solutions Consultant and Cloud Team Lead, makes a great point, your service is only as good as your internet.  

Broadening your scope of internet providers lets you see who best fits your needs. When you are aware of more than household and residential providers, you become more competitive. Again, the tech world is changing. How you adapt, and pivot can remove potential barriers. You are great. Your organization is meaningful, and your network should reflect that. Do not limit yourself with the mentality “good enough is good enough.” 

Take the time to evaluate your current internet service provider. Consider the strengths and rooms for improvement and know that some options may better suit you than Charter or BrightHouse. Seek guidance from a B2B provider that can bring you a broader pool of prospects and help you select an internet provider that will strengthen your connectivity.  

We have some more questions about your infrastructure. Is the data center you use the best for you? Is your server on-prem (within your organization’s office) or in another data center (a unit rented within a warehouse)? These questions are important because everything that comes with having a data center to ensure the servers are secure and running is expensive.  

When you budget for 2022, think about if your commercial office space is getting smaller. That information can help you decide if renting space within a data center or going virtual (hybrid or cloud) may better serve your organization. We have a way you can evaluate data centers all over the world.  

Hackers Are Advancing, So Should Your Security 

It is impossible to make any piece of software indestructible. Hackers or bad actors are highly funded and constantly use tools that can puncture holes within any software. You strengthen your defense with cybersecurity that immediately identifies openings and “patches” or protects any intrusions on their first attempt. Your budget should include cybersecurity. Prevention is better than recovery. 

Just as the name suggests, you should have “Zero Trust” when thinking about your security. It would be best if you were always prepared for a breach because it can happen to anyone at any time. Zero Trust verifies every user, validates their devices, and limits their accessibility.  

But that still is not enough. Destructive intruders do not give up when they hit a brick wall. They come back with more advanced tools to drill through, creating weak spots within any software. It will benefit you to monitor your devices. SOC can do that for you. SOC is like the watchdog that barks when someone steps foot on your side of the street (only this applies to your devices). 

Do not think that the security that automatically comes with your device is all you need. Consider an EDR (Endpoint Detection and Response) solution instead of traditional anti-virus. Additionally, every device you have should stay up-to-date with a device management platform. When you enhance your security, you can save a lot of unwanted emotions and unexpected spending. Securing your organization is not something to take lightly.   

No Noise, Focus on What You Need 

The world of business is evolving. There are now more consistent expectations for teams and departments to deliver without a “manager.” Apps and analytics are becoming the new management. Your organization has an opportunity to operate with minimal supervision with solid reporting.  

When you only use predefined or “canned” applications and analysis tools, you limit your organization. Why would you allow yourself to get frustrated with processes and reports that are not catered to you? No two organizations are the same, so any generic way of reporting will not optimize the information you get and what you do with it. There is a difference between receiving information and gathering valuable data.  

Apps and analytics are designed to make processes easier; you deserve to have meaningful information on how your organization is running. Your reports should clearly reflect what is going well and what is not going well. Especially when you have remote workers, reporting should accurately reflect your organization. You can make more of an impact when you specifically know what is working and what is not.  

A good example for apps and analytics is Power Query and Excel. They pull in data, chart it, clean it up, and automate some of what would be manual. But as time progresses, even they need to be reevaluated. As your organization grows, you will soon need Power Platform for more flexible and targeted low-code solutions and dashboards. 

There are so many ways to make the most out of apps and analytics. Everyone in your organization can do their job effectively; without being slowed down by too much or too little information, clicks, or control. Did you know you can have multiple applications for various parts of your organization? Sales, Operations, Finance. Everyone can have their application accessing the same data, following the same rules. Different applications access the same data set but make it meaningful for every person involved in the work. Another advantage is to have a simplified version of your system for a broad understanding and then break it down into more detailed or complex arrangements for people who have a specific use for that data. A warehouse team member may focus on quickly seeing what needs to be picked and loaded next, while an AR clerk may need to select from many actions to process invoices.    

If your 2022 plan includes growth, consider how that will affect the current processes you have. We have seen processes disheveled or all over the place, causing a lack of clarity and consistency within the organization. It may be helpful to bring an outside company in to get an outside perspective and identify the smoothest and most efficient processes that meet your growing requirements. 

Be Empowered by Staying in The Know 

You are not the only one who feels discouraged when you must constantly learn new IT terminology after you feel like you just got a grasp on what is new and upcoming. Innovators are always looking for ways to improve and advance products and services. Who can blame them? Consumers demand the latest and greatest.  

The tech world will forever evolve. That fact has little room for anything else. And being stagnant in an ever-changing world can do great harm to your organization if you don’t apply a strategy that works for you to stay ahead consistently. Embrace the theology of adapting and pivoting.  

But in what direction should you pivot? How deep in any given concept should you strive to understand? The proper training can help you answer some of these questions and more; when you invest in learning, you close miscommunication gaps within your organization. You reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed or irritated. After training, conversations and plans of attack become rich.  

Learning styles and basic knowledge varies from person to person. We have a Learning Café that caters to your organization’s needs and how you need the information delivered.   

When you invest in training, you keep your organization ahead as one unit.  

If you want a partner that will hold your organization accountable, we are here. We have self-service training that allows you to see who in your organization went through training and took the test that checks their comprehension and who did not complete it. It is not good enough that you bought training. You want to ensure your organization is benefiting from the training. We can let you know the strengths and room for improvement within your organization based on the training you received and the results. 

You Still Have Time to Budget for 2022 

There is a lot involved in planning for the new year and being aware of the tools available to serve your organization and your community better.   

Here are a few ways to plan for success this month:  

  • Assess your security. Ensure it is current and includes today’s basics like Zero Trust, SOC, and EDR. 
  • Ask each department in your organization to identify its top three processes. What challenges do they encounter? Is it well documented?  Are metrics known and tracked? Would automation help? 
  • On Thursday, November 18th at 1:30 EST, attend our 2022 IT Budgeting Workshop: 
  • Attend Everything You Need to Know About Windows 11 on Tuesday, November 30th at 1:30 EST: 
  • Reach out to us, so we can robustly search hundreds of options of data centers with multiple criteria for security, regulations, types of services, cost options, bandwidth, and more to ensure you get the right fit for you.  
  • Reevaluate the commercial offering of your residential internet provider. Know your options and how you can get the best performance and the best deal for you. TechHouse is a partner with visibility of B2B (business-to-business) providers, and we want to help you.  
  • Contact us for everything related to IT.