The week after Labor Day is a traditional time for taking out the to-do list and getting serious about finishing those important projects before years end. Heres the list that I think you should aim at finishing for this year.
First on the to-do list is a comprehensive disaster recovery plan. Disaster recovery is both process and products, but you really need to consider filling in the gaps in your current operations. What would happen to your data if you had to go through not one but two hurricanes in one season? The high winds, flooding and power outages that have caused so much human misery in Florida also hold lessons for technology managers.
Too often, disaster recovery tries to take into account only those catastrophic events where you need to replace operations that are simply no longer available. Accounting for the weeks of rebuilding and drying out following major storms is the more common need. While data recovery is important, you also need to consider the computer systems and communications systems that need to be restored or replaced over a period of weeks.
Second on the to-do list are inventories. While this might sound hugely boring, you are never going to be able to move forward until you know what you have sitting on the desks and in the hard drives of your user community. Your hardware systems inventory is one of the few places where you can get a snapshot of potential cost savings by upgrading to new systems rather than chugging along on older systems. A full software inventory can reveal aging, unused licenses (and there are some really good tools out there now to help with this), licenses for suites when you need only single applications and places where negotiating leverage can save you substantial budget dollars.
In the rush to discuss the latest technology innovation, simple, complete inventories are often overlooked. That should not be the case.
One prime candidate for a post-Labor Day perusal is your new-projects inventory. Projects have a way of developing a life of their own. The big CRM project that was a favorite of the sales vice president lingers on even after his departure. The nifty biometric security system that attracts everyones attention moves forward despite better, simpler and faster-to-develop alternatives.
Some budget dollars over the next several months will go toward new projects. Now would be a good time to think about what projects you would kill if you had to choose between a new undertaking or keeping an old clunker project alive.
The final items on the to-do list are technologies and products worth investigating on your own time. New consumer technology platforms are continuing to lead the way for corporations, and it would be worth your while to understand how these platforms work and think about how your company could use similar products. Here are a few places to start:
Sell some books on Amazon and sell some of that stuff you have hanging around your garage on eBay. Take a look at how security is handled, how inventory is maintained, how seller and buyer confidence and reputation are measured, and how transactions are compiled and presented. Now look at your companys inventory and financial systems and see where improvements can be made.
After youve been to eBay and Amazon, spend some time with Google and Skype. Rather than simply doing some searches in Google, spend some time in Google services and look at some of the labs projects in development. Search is a major shortcoming of many corporate systems, and Google can provide talking points for upcoming technology planning sessions. Go to Skype to get a fuller understanding of why all the big telecom companies are suddenly in a frenzy to figure out how to handle voice-over-IP technology. VOIP is one of those technologies poised for quick upward growth. Not only is VOIP attractive because of cost savings but also because of the new applications that can be built on the platform. That is where your job comes in.
A little time spent revising your to-do list now will save you time and money at years end.
Editor in Chief Eric Lundquist can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.