When Business Requirements Outgrow Design

As a business grows, it will often reach the outer boundaries of its infrastructure. A solid IT environment is usually designed with upgrade paths in mind– but that doesn't mean new strategies won't have to be implemented in order to ease the company's transition. As a CIO/IT manager, it's your responsibility to identify when your infrastructure is no longer facilitating your operations and is, instead, hindering them. That is when it becomes necessary to build a roadmap to redesign.

Review Your New Requirements

What has changed between your requirements when the infrastructure was originally designed and your requirements today? Identifying these shifting requirements will tell you what you need to upgrade in terms of hardware and software. They will also give you an idea of what is going to continue to change for your organization. If your organization has been steadily needing support for more employees, or has been increasingly moving towards mobile technology, it's likely this growth will continue.

Review Your Implementation Costs

You don't always need to grow the moment your business begins experiencing internal pressures. Once you've identified the changes your organization needs, you should compare the cost of instituting these changes to the cost of the productivity loss associated with not making them. If the productivity loss isn’t yet severe enough, you may not need to invest in a new infrastructure yet. Instead, you can plan for the future. It's often easier to deliver a five-year plan than attempt a transition within the next year.

Review Your Future Needs

Once you've decided on a path, you need to develop a design that will scale. Focus on using future-proofed technologies with longevity and ones that will provide easy upgrade paths in the future. Your goal is to create a system that won't bottleneck or hit a wall later on. Cloud technologies, for instance, tend to be preferred today over on-premise technologies, because there will not be a point at which equipment has to be decommissioned and replaced. Regardless on your technology, your redesign has to be sustainable for at least 18 to 24 months out.

Review Your Implementation Strategy

Implementation is the most critical component to a redesign. All aspects of your implementation should be discussed thoroughly, from the timeframe to any potential business interruption. Employees will need to be trained on new technologies, data will have to be transferred (and sometimes transformed), and contingencies will have to be planned for any potential issues. The primary goals throughout the period of implementation should be preserving your organization's data, security, and operational strength. When possible, implementation should be as non-invasive as possible; core business assets should be transitioned out of hours, and employees should have continual support.

Your IT's design and infrastructure should be reviewed every three to six months to ensure it is still sufficient for your company's needs. When your company is growing, it has to have room to scale; without it, you may be losing productivity and revenue without even realizing it.

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