Get network over-spending under control

Knowing what you already have in your toolbox before heading out to buy new tools is common sense. However, sometimes you can lose track of what you own and find yourself buying the same screwdriver over and over again. This can happen in your IT environment too if you don’t have a good system of keeping track of what’s in there.

Previous to my position at Softchoice I worked in IT Support for a small sized not for profit organization, and I’m well acquainted with the unique challenges and situations that arise in these environments.  Lack of documentation, lack of resources and indifferent or unknowing management can be huge stumbling blocks for those who are working in technology within organizations.  I can’t count the number of occasions when IT decisions were made based on strict monetary considerations and not on best practices for your environment. These pressures are understandable when resources are limited, but the best thing that you can do as an IT worker in these situations is to have a firm handle on your resources and to understand exactly where pennies can be saved and what areas are in the most urgent need of attention.

Now that I’ve been working directly with Softchoice’s Network Discovery Assessment team it has become really apparent to me how valuable a tool like this can be to a small or medium sized organization.  When I first started at my previous organization I spent my few weeks simply getting a handle on inventory, figuring out licensing and examining the gaps in coverage.  It was at times confusing, sometimes frustrating, and not least of all tedious.  If I’d been aware or had access to a tool like the Softchoice Network Discovery Assessment it would have eliminated a size-able portion of this grunt work.

Having been left without documentation of any sort, the ability to have Softchoice inventory my network and report back on my warranties would have been invaluable.  Certainly this is a job I could (and did) do on my own, but the associated costs to the organization were weeks of lost work hours and occasionally my unavailability to work on projects that would provide much greater value to the business as a whole.  Where I operated with dozens of spreadsheets and ran around with a flash light identifying equipment, Softchoice’s offering would have provided me with a single repository for the information I needed and without the leg work.  The automated discovery of the network devices and the creation of easy to use reports can simplify many of the tasks associated with network management.

Of course once I’d aggravated my dust allergies digging through old and decommissioned equipment and entered everything into the appropriate spreadsheet there was still much work to be done.  Having the accounting department pull invoices, now years old, and then trying and decode years old agreements and contracts to discern what sort of coverage we had on all these devices was difficult.  Was there anything not covered?  Was I paying for devices I didn’t need to be?  What were the contingencies if we had an outage?  Imagine my surprise when demoing the Network Discovery Assessment to find out that I could have had (along with my inventory) a full report on what services contracts exist, which ones I could eliminate and which ones needed to be shored up.  Not only that but the assessment would have provided me the proper migration path for my old hardware and identified any serious potentially service affecting configuration issues or bugs that might be present.

Once I’d hammered through the inventory and had that high level view of my network, my next step was to present my analysis of the network and where we needed to invest to management.  As is common in situations where management is not technology focused I met with a lot of resistance on what was regarded as “unnecessary” spending.   Despite the money being needed for “mission-critical” services, it can often be hard convincing the appropriate people that IT spending is not a frivolous expense.  Having the executive summary provided along with the assessment would have made approaching these financing meetings much smoother – the vendor-neutral and unbiased advice given by the consultants in the assessment would have given a lot of weight to my personal findings and potentially loosened the purse strings for critical upgrades.

When I was initially introduced to the assessment my thoughts were that it may not be worthwhile in small environments like the one I had been working in, or that these were the sort of services that only offered value to large organizations. The more I’ve explored the tools offered and begun consulting on these assessments, the more my opinion has changed.   Not only would having an assessment have saved me a huge amount of time but also the reporting provided would reduce the time and overhead going forward, for business large or small.

Assessments may be the ultimate key to happiness within an IT environment because when you know your network inside out, you can make it that much more efficient. Learn more about our assessments.

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About Ryan Howard

Ryan is a Technical Services Consultant with Softchoice, specializing in networking.