As always, IT is the the one aspect of business operations that is first to go under the knife for budget cuts, and the last to get approval for funding. Justification is tough, and management often believe that “things will work out” while keeping their fingers crossed.
To maintain effective BAU (Business As Usual) in a business –especially on an enterprise level– a certain amount of planning is definitely required.
Human resource planning
Despite the incredible level of automation we can achieve these days with server-side scripts and cron jobs, some duties remain in the realm of the administrator. Having your IT staff cross-trained in cases of emergency is always a good idea, especially during periods of crisis. Life happens, emergencies occur and people invariably absent themselves from work. Failing to plan for such contingencies, is effectively failing to ensure your business runs as usual, especially if time-sensitive tasks are required.
Having DR (disaster recovery) plans is a must, if we are to avoid extended periods of outage. Whilst emergency firefighting obviously works to a certain level, having process in place to handle scenarios that have been anticipated would be much more effective.
Standby hardware, backed-up configuration, replicated data, all of these are essential to the recovery and continuation of business.
In short: maintaining a positive outlook at work is good, planning for the worst is much better. Show your clients you are prepared to carry on with business, rain or shine.
Planning for growth is an essential key to preventing needless panic. Key indicators should highlight the need for upgrades and provisioning of required resources like bandwidth, network capacity, hardware and so on. Take into allowance the fact that things take time. We all like the idea of instant gratification, but the harsh reality of life is often otherwise.
Instead of blinding yourself, learn to recognise the truth and look ahead. Plan early, plan well.
Documentation and processes
The last aspect, which is often forgotten even by the IT staff, is supremely important and yet treated as a nuisance all too often. While often a time sink, change management and documentation allow transitioning of information between staff members in an easier manner, rather than relying on a face-to-face knowledge transfer. The human memory is a vague and easily smudged storage device on its best days. Write the relevant processes down, make sure coherent guides are drawn up to facilitate understanding, or even serve as reminders.
As mentioned, documentation too takes time, and this is something that is sometimes forgotten by management. There is always a focus on getting things done, but time should always be allocated in making sure all infrastructure setup and processes are written down in a manner that can be easily understood and used.