IT upgrades are a natural process for organisations as they grow, as technology improves, and as business and customer needs evolve. Managed correctly, this process should be part of a planned strategy to ensure that your hardware and applications keep pace with business needs. Here’s a checklist to help implement a successful IT upgrade, from managed IT specialists.
Step #1 – Defining Your IT Upgrade Goals
First, it is important to have a clear idea of why your business is considering an IT upgrade and what you want this process to achieve. This helps prioritise different projects and defines the correct solutions most applicable to your current challenges. Common reasons for wanting to undertake an IT upgrade include:
- The current system is unreliable and suffering performance issues
- The current system is not able to keep pace with data security needs
- The hardware the business is running on is old and outdated
- The operating systems and applications are one version or more behind the current offering
One way to get a clear idea of where the problems lie in your organisations current setup is to have your IT department or managed IT services provider run a comprehensive audit. As specialists understand what is needed in terms of IT for your business to operate securely and productively, and have the insight to identify problem areas and set priorities for upgrades effectively, they are a critical resource in the planning stage of this process.
Step #2 – Develop Your Rollback Plan
One of the biggest concerns around IT upgrades is the potential for disruptions to various critical systems and processes, causing costly and frustrating downtime. A rollback plan allows you to return a system to what it was pre-upgrade if upgrade processes run into severe problems including server crashes or incompatibility issues. A good managed IT services provider should be able to plan your upgrade for minimal downtime, but will always have a rollback plan in place as a safety net if unanticipated issues strike.
Step #3 – Evaluate New Applications and Upgrades
One of the most time-consuming steps of an IT upgrade isn’t usually the upgrade itself – it’s choosing what you’ll be upgrading too. It’s critical to perform an in-depth feature analysis of different applications and hardware to ensure you’re getting a cost-effective, lasting and comprehensive solution that’s best for your business – but that can mean wading through thousands of options, confusing information and more.
To make this process as efficient and rewarding as possible, it’s best to have an independent managed IT services partner working with you. They will have no affiliations that can create a bias around solutions, and they have the experience to guide you to the best solutions for a business in your industry, of your size, that works with your business strategy moving forward. They also have strong relationships with vendors that you can leverage for additional cost-effective benefits.
Step #4 – Record Application-Specific Information
Go through your system and applications with a fine-toothed comb to make sure you have recorded all relevant details that can trip up an upgrade process when it’s almost complete. Loss of passwords, registration information, licenses, administrative information and security information can stop an IT upgrade in its tracks and cause a serious headache to everyone involved.
Step #5 – Determine Your Upgrade Strategy
There are two ways to run the IT upgrade process – either you perform an in-place upgrade where you install new applications without first removing the old software, or you can perform a side-by-side upgrade where you install the new system in parallel to the old one, migrating your old data as you go. The first option is simple but can be problematic for some systems that require clean installs, while the second option is a good choice for retiring legacy systems and keeping current databases available during the transition.
Step #6 – Review
Always do a final review of your planned IT upgrade before you start, ensuring nothing has been missed and that every system, process and business need has been accounted for. This process should be very quick but there’s no reason to skip it – after all, one mistake, miscommunication or compatibility issue can cause serious problems. Your managed IT services provider can review your entire upgrade and business IT systems from top to bottom, ensuring your upgrade strategy is not only as seamless and efficient as possible, but that it delivers the best possible returns as well.
Managed IT Services Specialists for Small and Medium Sized Businesses in Australia
At Milan Industries, we offer a wide range of IT security and IT systems for businesses and industries across Australia. These include software solutions, data security solutions, IT support and Cloud solutions. We can manage every aspect of your IT needs, affordably and reliably, including IT upgrades. Contact us today to find out more.