Today’s successful businesses depend on their technology to execute plans for manufacturing, distribution, marketing, and sales. Maintaining these systems properly should include preventative maintenance that addresses potential hardware and software challenges before they impact workflow.
Without these regularly scheduled checkups, a company can’t keep pace with customer demand which could result in lost revenues in the short term and customer losses in the long term. It is always more cost efficient to keep existing customers than to develop new ones. Word-of-mouth spreads quickly in business communities so failures that impact customer-facing functions may be quickly communicated to other customers, potential clients and competitors. Routine maintenance to catch problem early prevents lost revenue. Spreading the cost of upgrades across several years, projects and activities just makes good business sense.
When a system is designed, configured, installed and in use, it becomes an integral part of the business operations and the company culture. Changes to these systems–both physical devices and software–can be challenging. It might be comforting to give in to the temptation to “leave well enough alone” when the need for change arises but this can be a risky choice. Acting on the temptation to defer maintenance might conserve CapEx, valuable production time, subject matter expertise and current technical resources. But keep in mind that avoiding maintenance only yields financial results for a short period. Over longer periods of time, more systems will become obsolete and need to be replaced, repaired or upgraded. Failure to do this over many years creates technology debt. Overwhelmingly large projects involving money, people, processes and culture change can severely impact company value and performance.
Circumstances that require changes in your IT environment include:
- Changes in regulatory requirements
- Changes in required minimum software levels (such as Operating Systems) to continue to receive vendor support. Vendors generally support newer versions of their software, usually the current and past two versions.
- New software that is needed to support growth or the continuance of key functions may be incompatible with older software, requiring additional upgrades
- New software and applications may not work on older devices such as servers or desktops
Eventually, for every company the need arises to upgrade or expand important systems. Large upgrades have the potential to disrupt every department. Savvy managers know that too much delay in technology upkeep is not a smart trade-off and should be avoided at all costs. Keeping an eye on the long-term value that technology brings to a business is the best operating strategy for today’s business.
In the next article, we will provide an outline of how to can address the necessary changes in a systematic, cost-effective way.
If you would like additional information on how NPI can assist you with these endeavors, contact us today.