Whether you are launching a new business or looking to overhaul your existing business plan, it is very useful to take a look at the way your network is laid out. For many companies, your network is your business. As such, just like you would develop a business plan you should consider making a comprehensive network plan. This plan allows you to identify your network contacts, develop a plan for outages, managing the network on a day to day basis, and much more.
If you are starting a new business, you should start by making a list of the applications you need in order to operate on a daily basis. This should include all the software that you use on a regular basis as well as special programs that your specialized employees use. Consider the resources needed to run each of these programs. The amount of resources your software uses will help to determine the hardware you purchase in order to support your operations. It will also help you decide whether or not you should look into setting up a virtual private network, or VPN. It's important to have the software details set before moving forward because that way you don't find yourself scrambling for additional resources.
Money affects everything in your business, and deciding how you're going to handle the financial aspect of your network construction can be a touchy situation. On the one hand, you need to keep to a budget. On the other hand, you don't want to cripple your network due to an inability to pay for the hardware you need. A bad network can cost your company a lot of money down the road, since it drains a lot of efficiency out of your business. What you need to do is identify the essential aspects of your network and give a higher priority to those items. Hardware or software that doesn't need to be addressed immediately can be given a lower grade and handled later if you have a tough budget.
What happens if your network goes out for an extended period of time? Whether it comes down to hardware failure, a natural disaster, or simple human error, an extended outage can effectively shut your whole business down. That means that you need to not only think about a backup plan but also consider the costs and human resources needed to restore network functionality as quickly as possible. If you have the budget for it, plan on having some backup hardware, especially server equipment. If you don't have the budget, you'll need to rely on the skill of your employees. This means you need to make sure your IT department is well-trained and constantly learning the latest technology to stay relevant.
When developing your network plan, you shouldn't lock yourself into a system that can't be easily scaled in case your company experiences unexpected growth. This holds true even if you plan to use cloud storage. In such a case, make sure that any contract you enter with your managed services provider allows for renegotiation and adjustment as time goes on. Many contracts require steep penalties if you need to revisit the terms, and those can be a severe financial drain on your company if something unexpected happens. Even if you plan on keeping your business small, your should have a backup in mind in case extreme success leads to unexpected growth.
If you have an IT team in place, you need to build around their abilities if possible. For example, if you have somebody who is extremely talented in dealing with server maintenance, you might not need to worry about cloud storage as long as that person is on board. Building to your team maximizes your on-hand resources and also gives a sense of ownership of the business to your employees. Of course, you do need to make sure you can hire replacements should a key member of your team move on to a different position or leave your business unexpectedly.
Any modern business relies on a computer network to some extent. That means that whenever you consider starting up or making a major change to your company, you need to put your network plan hand-in-hand with your business plan. This is the best way to ensure longevity and prosperity when it comes to your company.