Dave Kinsey 0000-00-00 00:00:00
How do I avoid computer problems? Tension and drama make for excellent movies and television, but bad business technology. While it is impossible to eliminate all computer problems, it is fairly straightforward to minimize the occurrence of problems by: 1. Regularly reviewing and eliminating root cause issues 2. Maintaining and executing a methodical plan to keep your technology current Root Problem Elimination The cost of choosing to live with a recurring issue is almost always far more expensive than eliminating the problem in the first place. You wouldn’t “just accept” recurring minor errors in your legal services. Don’t accept them with your computer systems, either. Getting down to the root issue of computer problems and fixing them sounds obvious. In practice, it’s not always so simple. Large, disruptive issues will generally receive the proper attention they deserve. The problem I see is in handling issues that are subtle and/or infrequent. In these cases, a judgment must be made with regards to how much time to invest resolving the root issue vs. performing an expedient workaround. In my experience in working with new clients, I’ve seen people tolerate minor and/or infrequent issues much longer than appropriate. Technology Planning & Execution Having a well thought-out, methodical plan to keep your systems up to date is the surest way to achieve the best results. The pace of technological advance is very rapid. The pace at which you adopt newer technology is a key factor in how successful you will be in managing your firm’s technology. The best approach is to make continual, small, conservative upgrades. In this manner, you will always have systems that are reasonably current. By making small and proven upgrades, these upgrades are fairly low risk. Additionally, you will spread your costs out over time. To achieve the best results, it’s important to be running current, mainstream versions of software. I have seen firms that have migrated to the newest software release before it was ready. You never want to be the firm uncovering and reporting all the bugs; let other people do that. Even more common, I find firms that put off upgrades for a longtime and then find themselves “under the gun” to catch up and fix things that no longer work without performing major upgrades quickly. This level of pressure to perform major rapid upgrades creates unnecessary drama and risk. System upgrades should be an ongoing background activity. You never want system upgrades in the foreground of your business. Striking the Right Balance I recommend replacing hardware on a 3-5 year cycle and replace 1/3rd to 1/5th of your systems per year. Plan your software upgrades with sufficient time after major releases to work out issues, but soon enough so that you remain current. For Microsoft software, this typically means waiting until the first service pack is released. For other software, you’ll want to see what others are doing and possibly consider upgrading perhaps 6 months after major software release (depends on the software). I recommend that your technical people sit down with those that are responsible for financial matters of your firm on a regular basis (at least once per year) to jointly review your technology plan and make the decisions that best suit your firm. The goal should be to maintain a minimum of a 36-month plan. For technology planning and updates, slow & steady always wins the race.
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