When I meet with a potential new technology service client during an IT consultation, a large part of the conversation revolves around the tech solutions that will help them achieve their business goals. The business owner or executive often does not realize that those goals can be more quickly and easily realized when the technology systems and infrastructure within their organization are consistent and standardized, and of course monitored and kept up to date. Simply put, IT Standardization helps companies achieve business and growth goals faster by increasing productivity and efficiency, while decreasing employee frustration and costly downtime, as well as potential security risks to the business.
IT Standardization may take the form of installing the same operating system and software suite through a volume-licensing program that will also enable the company to receive timely (usually free or low cost) upgrades and updates. It could also take the form of purchasing hardware in bulk so that every computer in your office is the same make and model, with, most importantly, the same internal components, such as processor speed and RAM.
IT Standardization also applies to following the advice and guidancee of a company’s trusted managed IT service provider (please note I said trusted) that is recommending specific business-class networking equipment, such as a firewall and switch. This way, the IT support engineers can easily and efficiently diagnose and solve connectivity issues, thus increasing uptime and preventing costly downtime and overall company frustration. These costs alone can easily justify the expense of improving and/or aligning a company’s network infrastructure with that of the IT support company.
A standardized IT environment will also foster a much more positive and long-term relationship with a company’s IT support provider or managed IT service team. By keeping hardware and software as consistent as possible, the number of tools required to address the same basic issue is reduced or eliminated. Standardization often goes hand in hand with centralization, the process of giving your IT service company more control over hardware and software procurement, and more control over what staff members are allowed to do with their office computers. This reduces a company’s risk and exposure to improper handling of sensitive company data and intellectual property.
For companies with additional national or international locations, IT Standardization can be the key to keeping all of the offices and team members connected, enabling staff to work more collaboratively and seamlessly, which can help build a culture of teamwork despite the distance. When faced with the added challenge of different time zones, standardization will enable the managed IT service team to troubleshoot issues more quickly and easily in the middle of the night when less resources are available. IT Standardization can prevent national and international businesses from having to work with different IT support companies located near their various offices, which reduces management time and effort as well as significant costs.
To summarize, IT standardization is an important strategy for:
- minimizing IT costs and frustrations
- preventing employee inefficiencies caused by different operating systems not working together properly
- reducing the amount of troubleshooting time required to resolve an IT issue
- fostering a most positive, beneficial, and long-lasting relationship with the managed IT service provider
- creating greater reliability within a company’s network
- enabling a company to grow and scale more quickly and easily
- helping companies with national and international locations reduce downtime and duplicate expenses