What types of IT infrastructure projects are needed for your business? There are 4 main types of IT infrastructure projects to consider:
- Web Development
From your website to your hardware, software, and network, your IT infrastructure covers a broad range of technologies. Each of these has its own endless range of possibilities. Determining which types to address, as well as your objectives and the specific projects that will help you achieve them, can quickly become overwhelming.
Many IT infrastructure projects face challenges along the way, from keeping up with changing technologies to addressing shifting business priorities. Undertaking such projects can also be intimidating because of the proliferation of articles about how IT infrastructure projects fail on a regular basis.
Keep reading to learn how you can choose the right types of IT infrastructure projects for your business and help ensure their success.
4 Types of IT Infrastructure Projects
<p>4 Types of IT Infrastructure Projects for Your Business - An infographic by the team at <a href="https://www.entrustsolutions.com/">Entrust Solutions</a></p>
Get started by considering the types of IT infrastructure projects that could best benefit your business.
1. Web Development
Before investing in an expensive purchase, 81% of consumers do research online. In addition, 90% of consumers search for local businesses online.
Your website’s interface, functionality, security, and design all factor into a customer deciding whether or not they should engage with your business. Your online presence helps customers form both initial and lasting impressions of your business, making it a high priority for most companies.
How do you determine what types of IT infrastructure projects your business might need for its website? This will depend on what kind of business you operate, as well as what your web development has accomplished so far.
- If you have an e-commerce business, or have considered opening an online store, it’s important to examine the functionality of your online shopping system. Is it easy for customers to browse through different products and manage their shopping cart? Is there adequate infrastructure in place to make sure you never sell more products than you have in your inventory?
- If you run a service-based business, having a strong online presence and convenient website should boost your chances of attracting new customers. Does your website provide clear descriptions of your services? Do you have an online booking system that allows customers to easily make reservations or appointments? Is that booking system synced up efficiently to your internal system?
- Remember, customer service matters across all industries. Maybe you already have an attractive and intuitive website, but customers don’t seem to be engaging very deeply with it. Consider ways of making your website more approachable and tailored to their interests, such as AI-powered personalized recommendations or a chatbot.
When your hardware is working smoothly, it can be easy to overlook. But when it’s dysfunctional or doesn’t meet your needs, it can be hard to ignore and can negatively impact productivity.
As with web development, the types of IT infrastructure projects your business needs for its hardware will vary based on your company size and line of work. Consider any issues or shortcomings stemming from your computer monitors, switches, ethernet cables, keyboards, or any other physical parts of your computer system.
Some hardware upgrades or implementations wouldn’t necessarily require your IT department to design an infrastructure project. It is relatively simple, for example, to purchase new keyboards for all of your employees. But other hardware upgrades require more planning to be completed successfully.
- If you choose to keep your business’ data in external servers, as opposed to a cloud-based service, the next step is to figure out the configuration. If your company needs a server mainly to share documents among team members, you might only need one server that could easily be kept in-house. However, some businesses may require more data storage space, such as for keeping lengthy and secure client records. Some businesses might also need their servers to run at a higher bandwidth than average if you need to transfer data quickly or offer streaming videos.
- If everyone in your business requires their own computer, consider purchasing laptops and docking stations for everyone instead of desktop computers. Laptops make it easier for employees to bring all of their files with them to meetings or when working from home. The docking stations ensure that employees still receive the benefits of desktop computers without the mobility limitations.
When it comes to your company’s software, consider your operating system, user interface, apps, and any computer programs or processes your business uses. Your IT department in particular can provide invaluable insight on the biggest problems and opportunities associated with your software.
Of all the types of IT infrastructure projects, software upgrades are often the most visible to employees, as they most affect their day-to-day interactions with your technology. The right software maintenance and upgrades can lead to huge increases in employee productivity as well as customer satisfaction, but they can also come with bigger risks.
- Deciding to upgrade operating systems is a big decision, but usually necessary every few years. While you don’t always have to rush out and buy everyone in your company the latest Windows or Apple operating system, letting your company fall several operating systems behind usually puts you at a variety of disadvantages. Older operating systems often stop receiving support after a few years. As more programs and applications roll out, they also tend to stop being compatible with older operating systems. With that said, upgrading operating systems can be a significant undertaking, as it could affect all aspects of your business for several days.
- If you’re looking to boost your customer interactions, think about acquiring or creating your own customer relationship management (CRM) software. A CRM allows businesses to squander less time doing simplistic manual data entry of customer contact information and sales numbers. With more customer data, faster data collection, and built-in tools to analyze that data, your team can better focus their efforts on improving customer interactions and increasing sales.
- Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software also allows you and your employees to be more efficient with your time and resources. ERP software can automate numerous data entries and analyses for your business, reducing your operational overhead. Whereas a CRM’s main goal is to increase sales, an ERP’s primary function is to make your business run more effectively.
Your business’ computer network refers to all of your IT components that communicate with one another. This covers a broad range of important operations for your business, from internet connectivity, to network enablement, to file sharing over the cloud, to security measures.
Having a communicative and secure network is of the utmost importance. Your various computing parts need to be able to communicate with one another efficiently to ensure that data is transferred safely and quickly from one device to another. With that in mind, there are various types of IT infrastructure projects you can undertake to improve your network operations.
- Given the recent increase in ransomware attacks over the last few months, heightening network security is on a lot of business owners’ minds. Assuming that you have already implemented standard security measures, such as installing antivirus software and setting up firewalls, consider investing in more proactive cyber security methods. One such tactic that is not beyond the budget of most small businesses is network and endpoint monitoring. This monitoring helps ensure that criminals do not breach your network—or, if they do, that you can catch them before they wreak irreversible damage.
- More and more businesses are shifting away from data centers and choosing instead to store their records via cloud computing. Using cloud software allows many small and medium-sized businesses to lower operational costs, as fewer pieces of hardware are needed. The cloud also makes it easier for teammates to collaborate on and share files with one another. If your business decides to switch its data storage partially or fully to the cloud, some of your security measures might need to be altered, too.
- For improved network security and efficiency, consider incorporating more segmentation into your network. Cyber criminals often move laterally through a network, continually gaining access to more and more files. By partitioning your network into smaller segments, it becomes more difficult for cyber criminals to gain access to your passwords and personal data. Segmentation also helps to ensure that network traffic doesn’t become congested and start lagging. There are multiple measures you can implement to segment your network, among them virtual local area networks (VLANs) and access control lists (ACLs).
How to Plan Successful IT Infrastructure Projects
Why is it that so many types of IT infrastructure projects fail? Most often, these projects fall short or fall apart because of how quickly technology changes, how interconnected IT infrastructure is with all other facets of your business, and how difficult it is to predict the project’s costs and duration.
Fortunately, we have some advice for ensuring that your IT project does not become just another statistic. No matter your goal, from supporting business intelligence to reducing cyber security risks, it is critical to systematically weigh the benefits, risks, and costs of any prospective IT project before committing to it.
Benefits and Risks
Consider the benefits and risks of your proposed IT infrastructure project for each department, for the business as a whole, and for the clients you serve. Who would this project help, how much, and in what ways? Who or what might you put at risk by undertaking the project? In what ways could it affect other departments or other areas of IT?
In order to best anticipate all possible benefits and risks, discuss them among your IT team, any other departments that may be involved or affected, and company leaders and decisionmakers.
When evaluating risks and benefits, your first thoughts are likely to be about the outcomes of this potential project. Take the time to thoroughly consider these outcomes, as well as the outcomes associated with not doing the project, as outlined by EDUCAUSE Review. Will the current system, technology, or infrastructure you have in place hold up? What do you risk by not updating or maintaining it?
A major determining factor for the success or failure of any type of IT infrastructure project is its cost. To make a comprehensive prediction of a project’s potential cost, your cost model should factor in the project’s initial costs, its implementation costs, and its maintenance costs.
For instance, how long would the project take? Which members of your staff would need to be involved? How would this project affect the workload capacity of those employees? Would you need outside contractors? How much would maintenance cost, and how often would you need to perform maintenance? In terms of maintenance, would it be more expensive to keep your current infrastructure in place or to upgrade?
As before, discuss these questions with as many relevant employees, departments, and stakeholders as possible to avoid overlooking potential costs. Use your analysis of the benefits, risks, and costs to help evaluate and prioritize potential projects, anticipate problems, and make sure you have the resources you need to succeed.
Contact Entrust for IT Project Support
Even when you are well-informed about the types of IT infrastructure projects you could undertake, as well as their benefits, risks, and costs, you may still feel daunted by all these possibilities. Or you may recognize that your IT team needs additional support or custom technology to complete the projects most beneficial to your business.
The experts at Entrust Solutions are here to help. We can help you plan and implement the right IT projects to ensure that your business operates as smoothly and securely as possible. Contact us today to learn more.