With digital transformation pushing enterprise IT to the cloud, many services are now supplied by third-party providers. The Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile technology are also multiplying the number of devices enterprises are tracking and maintaining, so there’s a growing need for technology lifecycle management. With technology lifecycle management, businesses partner with a consultant that manages every aspect of their telecommunications technology, whether you need assistance with anything from SIP to SD-WAN or cable to the cloud.
Here are the basic elements involved in a lifecycle management plan:
A detailed register of every technology asset, which includes operating systems, applications, hardware, middleware, and dependencies between elements in the environment.
The assignment of an asset owner and business process for each item.
A detailed schedule that accommodates updates and reviews.
A record of expiration dates that includes lead times and provider roadmaps with details about when a resource may no longer be supported.
Managing technology is becoming more complicated for enterprises. Monitoring and maintaining equipment and keeping it up-to-date for patches or software updates can be daunting. The process of developing a technology lifecycle management strategy may seem overwhelming, but there are a number of risks associated with a failure to develop this type of strategy:
The value of technology lifecycle management is rooted in oversight of the entire IT environment. While the IT department is likely to take that role in a larger enterprise, there are many companies that don’t have the in-house resources to guide technology decisions that have a big impact on smaller business budgets.
Technology providers are increasingly recognizing the opportunities available to them to offer support for rapidly changing enterprise IT environments. From assessing business needs to procurement and security training, providers see that enterprises need this essential set of services.
Overall, technology lifecycle management simplifies IT. Other reasons your business should invest in it include:
From the ability to bundle a set of assets to managing only one contract and one monthly invoice, this structure for handling IT simplifies the process.
You can save upward of 20% on your service and subscription costs by bundling them with one provider. In addition, items like upgrades are planned ahead, so you’re never surprised by a new invoice item.
By having all items on a single invoice, you have better control over your IT spending. When some aspect of your budget needs adjusting, you won’t be sifting through hundreds of line items on multiple invoices trying to find an opportunity to make a change.
From higher uptime rates to up-to-date infrastructure, you’ll experience fewer interruptions and better productivity. With ample support services, if you do experience an issue, you’ll be back to work quickly.
With technology lifecycle management, you have a single contact point and one phone call to make to resolve whatever challenge or need arises. IT budget planning becomes easier, and you’ll run your business more efficiently with up-to-date infrastructure and the latest software solutions.
Technology lifecycle management isn’t just for for-profit businesses. Government agencies and nonprofit organizations are embracing technology to help drive down costs, improve productivity, and support objectives aimed at improving experiences for the end user. There are technology lifecycle management benefits that can help government offices and nonprofit organizations minimize their spending and proactively pursue optimized IT infrastructure and services:
Technology lifecycle management allows organizations across industries to develop strategies that anticipate future systems requirements and focus on their goals and performance objectives while leveraging technology resources.
The likelihood of realizing the benefits of technology lifecycle management rests on an effectively executed process. In order to achieve the most value from a technology lifecycle management plan, the following steps should be included:
This critical first step examines current business needs, as well as future growth plans and accommodates phases of the technology lifecycle. It includes business and technical stakeholders and produces a comprehensive report. The assessment stage is proactive, looking at expansion plans and goals for how technology can support business objectives. It weighs in-house IT services versus outsourcing to as-a-service options and determines metrics for evaluating whether technology lifecycle management has been effective for the organization.
The acquisition stage executes the objectives laid out in the assessment phase. It involves the procurement of technology assets and the logistics of each purchase, as well as finalizing the financing of the acquisition.
This step will look different in each organization, but it includes the deployment and integration of the solution or device into the IT environment. It also includes the tracking of the technology elements, with an identification of what purpose each serves and who has ownership of the element.
Technology lifecycle management involves comprehensive support for the optimized performance of the IT environment. From the proactive monitoring of incidents to phone support to configuration management to evaluating the extension of product warranties and conducting periodic reviews of system performance metrics, this step is a valuable element of this approach to the IT environment.
This critical step ensures that funds are set aside for the future technology requirements of the organization. Refresh objectives are driven business strategies and tend to run in cycles of two to five years to optimize the devices and system components supporting the goals of the organization.
Full-service technology lifecycle management includes a plan for asset disposal that is set forth in the initial report developed in the assessment phase. Most organizations don’t have a plan for asset disposal, nor do they benefit from the resale of retired devices. This part of the process turns this responsibility over to the lifecycle management provider and relieves the organization of the concerns surrounding the environmental impact of retiring technology.
Even if you have an IT professional or an IT team, it can be challenging for them to get beyond the minimum of keeping the lights on and systems running. They may never get to the point where they can fully focus on a strategy for driving business objectives with technology innovation, or put together the disaster recovery plan you’ve intended to implement.
These are a few of the reasons why it makes sense to outsource certain areas of IT, like technology lifecycle management. Here are some benefits you can expect:
When you outsource technology lifecycle management, you’ll never be shocked by future capital investments, such as needing to replace a data server or a fleet of mobile devices. Your technology will be monitored for future upgrades, replacement, and maintenance so that your invoices are consistent and you can plan your budgeting accordingly.
With a technology lifecycle management provider handling all aspects of your equipment acquisition, upgrades, and maintenance, you’ll have more time to focus on core business objectives. Outsourcing allows you to focus on the business drivers that help differentiate you from your competition.
Unless you’re able to dedicate part of your budget to an in-house security team, it’s likely that outsourcing technology lifecycle management will significantly improve your level of cyber security. IT companies are more familiar with the tactics that hackers use to attempt to access your system and have robust monitoring and resolution methods that are difficult to match in-house.
One of the drawbacks of having only in-house IT is that it’s challenging to hire experts from every area of IT, and at precisely the amount you need them. When you outsource, you’re able to access a wide variety of IT expertise, and in precisely the amounts you require. It’s easy to scale up or down and take advantage of different areas of expertise as you need them.
When it’s time to make an equipment purchase, your technology lifecycle management provider is in a better position to negotiate the best possible price.
When it’s time to retire a server or a fleet of tablets, disposing of the equipment can be one of the more time-consuming aspects of lifecycle management. A technology lifecycle management provider can handle the removal of your retired equipment, and this service is included in your monthly invoice.
Rather than just purchasing new equipment when your existing equipment fails, a lifecycle management provider can help you take a strategic approach to your technology. From timing acquisitions and getting competitive pricing to using maintenance to get a longer life out of a particular piece of hardware, you can measure significant gains from taking a strategic approach to managing your technology.
A technology lifecycle management provider will help you avoid the common IT trap of an infrastructure that’s cobbled together, inefficient both in performance and costs. Instead, you’ll appreciate an infrastructure built for today’s efficiency and your future technology acquisitions.
Technology lifecycle management is designed to fulfill many functions, including ensuring that technology is not out of date, determining whether the technology is serving its intended purpose, and understanding whether you are getting your expected value out of each aspect of your technology mix.
There are a few relatively universal steps that can help you shape your process and strategize for any technology:
Examine the product’s function, benefits, and services. Is there anything new that comes with it? Find out whether there are companies similar to your own in both size and scope that are utilizing the technology. Determine whether certain perks make this particular product attractive, such as training resources or specific features. A thorough evaluation of the product will influence how your business utilizes the product.
Confirm that the product you select will meet your current and future needs, taking time to consider security and compliance issues. Talk with other users, and ask the provider about how the product will change in the future. Will it be able to scale with your company’s future growth? Be careful not to overemphasize price in the factors impacting your decision. A cost-effective product may lack the market advantages that help you outpace competitors.
Work closely alongside the product’s deployment assistant program or customer service, accessing step-by-step guides and any visual assistance provided. These tools will offer a roadmap of implementation. Carefully construct a plan for product integration, including deployment and adoption plans. If there are demos available, utilize them. You can also connect with other businesses of your size to find out how they overcame any surprises or difficulties during deployment.
Examine best practices for a successful product launch, as well as tips for configuration, management, and administration. Research ways to keep data secure and ensure you are meeting the requirements of your company policies and compliance regulations. Implement ongoing training resources to help employees successfully utilize the product.
Determine any customization that will allow the product to better integrate with your company and its processes. Develop the features and functionalities that will extend the product’s usefulness and connect it with any line of business applications. Your provider may offer development guidance as well as best practices. Dedicate time to align the product with your company’s goals.
Determine how you’ll access support, whether it’s through in-person, phone, or chat, throughout the implementation process. While your provider may readily supply online troubleshooting and guidance, find out what other ways you’ll access the support you need. Is there a broad array of options to help you address any potential issues, and what will the response time be? Find out if there are ways to identify and anticipate issues, as well as how you’ll handle unanticipated problems.
Effective product usage is critical for helping your end users get the greatest possible benefit from technology resources. Invest in a product that provides training to help employees succeed in using the technology, as well as boosting buy-in for the change.
Managing a technology lifecycle can seem simple when broken down into the steps detailed above, but in most cases, even a small enterprise will be handling many different technology items. Many companies find that outsourcing the management of technology lifecycles offers a variety of benefits, including a structured approach to infrastructure and systems, the anticipation of hardware upgrades or replacement, and the potential for cost savings on equipment purchases.
Technology lifecycle management is a proactive strategy for anticipating and strategically timing your technology acquisitions, while effectively managing the maintenance and optimization of your current technology stack. Outsourcing technology lifecycle management creates cost savings in a number of ways:
It’s clear that outsourcing a segment of your IT to a technology lifecycle management vendor comes with many advantages. But it’s important to keep in mind that choosing the right technology lifecycle management vendor is a crucial decision. Take a look at some of the critical factors you should consider when selecting a vendor:
Choosing a technology lifecycle management vendor often comes down to style and culture; businesses typically recognize when an IT outsourcing opportunity seems to fit seamlessly with the in-house team. It’s still a good idea to work systematically through the above considerations to identify whether a vendor that seems to fit well will also have the partnerships and expertise to support successful lifecycle management.
At PAG, we provide telecom consulting and the best business solutions at the greatest value. For more information about technology lifecycle management and how the benefits of a strategy like this could provide advantages to your enterprise, contact us at PAG. We are committed to helping our clients save money, get more control over IT spending and their monthly invoices, and gain a clear understanding of their telecom services.