Technology lifecycle management is a crucial part of any business’s strategy for healthy IT. Despite its importance, it often falls by the wayside as it takes time and leadership to put together. What does an “IT lifecycle” mean though? Why do you need a plan to manage your business’s technology through its lifecycle?
The stages of the IT lifecycle
In an organization, the IT lifecycle begins with planning, procurement, and deployment or installation of the technology. (And by “technology”, we mean everything from hardware to software to cloud, not just physical devices.) Then your technology has its life extended through proper maintenance, updates, and upgrades. Finally, there is replacement, decommission, and salvage (if physical).
Now, a lot of organizations plan for their IT lifecycle through procurement, deployment, and maintenance, but don’t have a method for tracking age and planning replacement. The importance of a technology lifecycle plan is for the replacement and decommission stages to be organized and predicted rather than a costly reactive project when something breaks, or gets caught in an audit, and you’re in crisis mode.
But why is that important? Why should you design a management plan for replacing your technology on a schedule, rather than just waiting for it to outlive its usefulness?
Simply put, your IT assets will reach the end of their usefulness. At some point, they stop supporting your business and they start hindering you. Waiting for something to break or ignoring problems until they snowball into a catastrophic failure will have a negative effect on your processes and productivity.
What’s in a lifecycle plan?
The basic elements of a technology lifecycle plan include the following:
- An inventory of all your technology assets (systems, cloud platforms, apps, hardware, and dependencies between elements in the environment)
- Identified owners and business processes for each asset
- Detailed schedule for updates and reviews
- Record of expiration dates with lead times and roadmaps to plan for replacement of resources before they become obsolete or unsupported
A plan makes all the difference
Imagine the difference between these two very common scenarios below. This example is a very common PC hardware scenario. But similar problems can occur with old servers, aging software programs, inadequate line of business apps, and so on.
In scenario A, your employee has a desktop PC that they use every day. The PC is now 5 years old and it’s starting to run slowly, or it’s crashing unexpectedly. Your employee is struggling daily with slow speeds, interruptions, and frustrations. After weeks or months of frustration and downtime, the PC finally grinds to a halt. You don’t have a replacement PC ready, so your employee sits idle for a few days, or borrows other people’s devices, until the new PC is ordered, shipped, set up, and installed for them. The result? Months of slow work and frustration, possibly days of complete downtime, and a rush job to get your employee set up with a new PC.
In scenario B, your employee’s PC is now 3 years old. Your IT lifecycle plan includes an asset inventory tracking all hardware with ages and predicted replacement dates. At the beginning of the year you already knew the PC needed to be replaced, it’s on the schedule, and the cost has been included in your budget. Your IT team sees that your employee is due for a PC replacement. A new PC is ordered and configured before the employee starts experiencing hardware difficulties. Swapping the new PC out for the old one is almost seamless. The old PC is decommissioned, wiped, and reused or sent out for salvage, so it’s not sitting around gathering dust in the inventory room. The employee never struggled with a PC that is years beyond its best performance. The replacement cost was predicted. The IT team handled the replacement proactively, rather than at the last minute.
A proper plan for your technology makes all the difference!
The Benefits of a Technology Lifecycle Management Plan
A lifecycle management plan has a number of benefits. Much of its value lies in helping you avoid lost opportunities, process failures, and unanticipated costs.
The point of lifecycle management is to avoid the impact of inadequate technology on your business. You create a plan with oversight of the entire IT environment and keep all of the pieces functioning well. You’re shifting your time and your resources towards implementing helpful technology that helps you function and grow, rather than those resources being focused on fixing the next thing that breaks.
With healthy managed technology you can:
- Gain flexibility and adaptability, which help you respond to opportunities and plan your next steps with freedom of choice.
- Strengthen your business functions and processes and avoid failures or breaches that threaten reputation and revenue.
- Put your resources into growth and enhancement, rather than recovery.
- Save money and resources because you avoid unanticipated costs, time-consuming problem remediation, and crisis mode.
- Improve your reputation with clients, because you aren’t putting them through the frustration and inconvenience of downtime or glitchy experiences.
- Ease the complexity of your IT environment, from simplifying billing to rolling services into a package with a single provider to contact.
That’s a lot!
We said before that this can be a monumental task. Identifying all your assets and building lifecycle roadmaps for each is a big undertaking. It becomes easier over time, but the biggest obstacle is getting started.
Not sure where to begin? Interested in a facilitator for improving your technology management? Now is the right time to consult with one of our CIO/CISO experts, who can guide you through the interconnected business and IT decisions.