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Make technology infrastructure a top priority this new year

The new year is upon us, and with it comes some familiar rituals: reflecting on all that was good over the course of the previous year, resolving to knuckle down and work on areas of our personal lives and celebrating the opportunities that a fresh year provides. Chances are that the new year also has many of us taking a hard look at our business practices in an effort to make 2008 as successful as possible.

For many of us, that means approving a new budget for the fiscal year, identifying strategic company initiatives and devising methods of balancing the desire to grow with the necessity of managing day-to-day operations. Of course, one of the business world's most challenging realities is that the first part of the calendar year, when many of us are attempting to tackle global company initiatives, is also when many organizations are their very busiest. Between balancing this surge in business and attempting to plan for the coming 12 months, it's easy to see how many important strategic planning considerations can be overlooked.

Unfortunately, it is often a company's technology infrastructure needs that go overlooked during the frenzied first months of the year, despite the fact that many businesses have outlined necessary upgrades and technology expenditures in the new year's budget. Simply put, it's easy to assume you can continue to rely on the infrastructure you have in place, and that concerns of a technical nature can be put off when things get hectic.

This mentality, however, can often invite disaster. It's tough enough to balance your company's strategic priorities during one of the busiest times of year. Imagine trying to do so without the database program your company uses to process orders, or without electronic mail communication to the outside world. It's a frightening thought, and it only gets worse: Do you have a reliable backup with which to restore your order-processing system or employee mailboxes?

Of course, no one in his right mind would suggest you plan to undertake a critical system upgrade during your busiest time of year. That'd be, in its own way, inviting disaster, too. What's important to remember is that, as mentioned, technology priorities should not be jettisoned when the going gets tough. In fact, a business tuned in to its needs will ensure these priorities are completed before critical mass is reached, or, at the very least, that a contingency plan is in place to guide the company through frenzied times so that these upgrades can be completed once things return to normal.

Furthermore, your I.T. solutions provider should be able to share an analysis of how such an upgrade will provide a return on investment for your company. You may have ancillary reasons for wanting to upgradefor example, the software you use on a daily basis might require an upgrade to use the latest versionbut an I.T. company with a business technology framework should be able to demonstrate, in real-world terms, how taking the plunge and signing off on the upgrade will make business sense for your company.

Ultimately, as the calendar turns and you once again revisit your company's business plan, long-term goals and strategic initiatives, remember the role technology plans in the success of modern businesses. Failing to do so will have its consequences, but, more importantly, remembering to do so will bring benefits not only this year, but for many years to come.

- Jeff Facer is owner and CEO of Area-Wide Technologies in Champaign. He can be reached at (217) 359-8041 or

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