Foundation – IT needed to generate your data

Hardware, Software, and Services Specific to Your Business

1. Once you have identified the various software you need, contact the software vendors and find out what hardware and network recommendations they make. Also find out what support the vendors offer if their software doesn’t behave the way you expect.

2. Avoid using wireless networking technology unless you have a specific need that requires it.

3. Once you have identified the hardware you need, contact the hardware vendor and find out if they offer warranty services that meet your requirements for downtime. An example of a downtime requirement might be no longer than 8 hours, or one business day, and is dependent on how much it costs you to have production halted.

Cost, Value and ROI

1. Determine an estimate of how much an hour of downtime of your production technology costs. An example of this is your average utilities and property costs per hour plus your labour cost per hour, which gives you a base minimum cost. Add to this any opportunities you think it may cost you which are potentially very valuable if, for example, your phones don’t work and you can’t answer a new client’s potential call or that email notification about a new tender available to bid on doesn’t come through because your email system is down.

2. Look for added value from your vendors. A good example of this is finding a backup solution within your budget that satisfies your core recovery requirements. One of the three vendors you get a quote from maybe also offers a free hardware replacement every three years and has a 24/7 help desk available for support. It’s this type of added value that can help you pick a vendor as a supply partner and get the most out of your investment.

3. Qualify and if possible quantify what you expect as a return for your investment in each technology. An example of qualifying this would be expecting your backup system to mitigate the risks of data loss. An example of quantifying the same backup system would be stating it must meet a 4 hour recovery point objective. This means it must prevent you from ever losing more than your 4 most recent hours of modified data, and it must meet a 24 hour recovery time objective, implying it must be able to recover all that data and have you back into production within 24 hours of a failure.

Testing & Evaluation

1. Don’t buy any software that doesn’t offer a trial version. Don’t install any software into production until you’ve given the trial a thorough evaluation.

2. Price out hardware, software and services at three different vendors. Price can vary drastically between different providers, so it’s worth your time to be thorough in your purchasing policy.

3. In particular when you are purchasing turnkey solutions, for example a Point of Sale system that includes tills and servers, make sure you are dealing with a vendor who is in their comfort zone. To ensure this request references from other businesses that your potential vendor has installed the same solution in that are also in your industry. You do not want to be a vendors’ guinea pig on a new solution unless they are offering you a significant discount to be involved in a pilot program. Conversely you don’t want to be the smallest client they have either thus ensuring you get the responsiveness and attention you need.