As small and midsize businesses (SMBs) grow, however, they need to contend with making sure their technological deployments grow with them. How can you, as a business leader, tackle the challenge of scaling technology and avoid diluting its positive impact? Is there a specific frequency or season for IT upgrades to take place, and when should you consider purchasing new equipment instead of upgrading existing hardware?
Though there’s no simple answer to these questions, the following guidelines can help you plan to scale your technology to meet your needs and match business growth.
Sizing your IT infrastructure
Right-sizing IT infrastructure helps you avoid wasting your IT budget on overpowered infrastructure and equipment. On the other end of the spectrum, organizations that purchase underpowered IT hardware also waste money when they’re forced to shop a second time for more suitable equipment. Even businesses that select hardware to meet current needs (and nothing more) will outgrow the technology in a short timespan, and ultimately find themselves in the same position again.
The complexity of sizing your IT infrastructure may require deferring to an experienced IT manager or an external consultant to determine the optimal hardware investment for your business needs. Business owners shouldn’t choose the first and cheapest technology solution for their business just to finish the job quickly and move on to other tasks. Doing so typically causes more harm in the long run. Plus, according to Forbes, businesses shouldn’t add new technology solutions without planning for a successful implementation. Otherwise, they can’t be confident the new tech will actually add any value.
Business leaders should consult their IT manager or conduct their own in-depth research to fully understand if an upgrade (or what type of upgrade) is right for their organization and how efficiently it can be implemented. On this front, the general guideline is to deploy hardware able to support the projected growth of an organization over a span of two to five years.
Server hardware that can be upgraded through storage or random-access memory (RAM) typically offers a better return on investment because it allows businesses to spend less on a lower-end base system. Midsize businesses with a need for more powerful compute should consider integrated systems, such as composable systems offering substantial scalability, albeit at a higher starting cost.
Spend time researching how to manage various components of your on-premises IT infrastructure, including your servers, networking, and storage. Once you fully grasp the total situation, you can make informed decisions about upgrading your business’ IT environment.
The time for expansion
Too many organizations wait until a disaster strikes or a poorly performing piece of hardware harms an important business function before considering an upgrade. Unfortunately, this rarely works out well, considering it can take days or weeks to acquire and provision new servers.
Yet, it’s also counterintuitive for scheduled upgrades to take place during busy seasons of the year, such as the holiday season for a retailer, or the tax season for an auditing and accounting firm. The focus of IT during peak seasons should be geared toward maintaining uptime, avoiding disruption, and performing noncritical developmental work that can be set aside at a moment’s notice.
A business owner can identify less active periods throughout the year, when business volume is lower, and plan to expand different components of their IT infrastructure as necessary during these periods. Common upgrades include enlarging storage capacity, adding memory for overloaded application and database servers. One goal for upgrading and scaling technology is to avoid deploying changes all at once. Space out upgrades or installation deployments so any associated problems can be easily identified and rectified. This proactive approach also helps diffuse the cost of these upgrades, so you don’t have to make hefty investments and drain funds all at once.
Business owners constantly juggle a variety of tasks. As your business grows, plan ahead and choose easily scaling technology to appropriately meet any future business needs. With this strategic approach, you’ll avoid downtime and disruption while simultaneously keeping your business up and running.
Need help connecting your SMB to the cloud? See how Hybrid IT can solve your IT challenges.
Ready to take the next step? Check out the SMB Hybrid IT for Dummies Guide. Because there are no “dumb” questions!