Planning for the Future (Need vs Want vs Growth)

Two hands holding a seedling in dirt One of the many IT services we provide involves helping our clients with planning and purchasing decisions. When making such decisions, there needs to be a balance between what is needed, what is wanted, and what the future growth may require. Ultimately, the decision rests with you, the customer but it’s our job to give you the information you need in order to make the right decision for your business. Many times, our customers will go with what we suggest. In some cases, in spite of what we suggest would be optimal, our customer chooses a different path. In those cases, our job becomes to make the decision work as well as possible even if it wasn’t the choice we had suggested. This is fine; at the end of the day, it is your business and your decisions which will make or break it. We’re here to help. That said, let’s take a look at these factors that need balancing.

Planning for What You Need

Imagine that you are looking at a range of options for a given purchase and all of these options are spread out in a line. Somewhere on that line is an “optimal” decision, the most perfectly right choice you could make. In most cases, what you “need” is a little to the left of that line somewhere. For our purposes, what is needed is defined as what will satisfy the minimum necessary requirements to get the job done. Suppose you are looking to share files between multiple PCs on your SOHO network. What is needed is perhaps to enable file sharing between the PCs. This functionality is built right into your PCs in most cases and will allow you to send files back and forth with minimal fuss. It’s not ideal, being a little brittle, but it would get the job done. In many cases, you’ll want to move a little further right of the bare minimum to meet “need”.

This is usually the first set of choices you will consider for a given project. It establishes that anything even further to the left is inadequate and will not serve your purposes. It gives you a baseline for comparison, usually on price but also on features. Again, I’m talking generically here. We could be discussing file sharing, software, backups, workstation or server configurations, or any of a number of other computer support and IT related items. Each has costs and features (benefits) associated with them and when we start with establishing our “needs” we make sure we are eliminating the dregs that simply won’t fit the bill.

Pondering What You Want

Okay, now you know what you need but you have already started considering what you want. “Want” in this case is the polar opposite of need. It establishes how far you’re willing to go. Where “need” bent closer to accommodating for cost at the sake of features, “want” gives up lower costs in order to get some of those features back. Perhaps some of the nicer file sharing options provide for nifty alerts to let folks know when quotas are used up or when new files are placed in their folders. Do you want that feature? How much are you willing to pay for it? This is where you start establishing a cap on how far to the right of the mark you are willing to go.

This is usually something our clients tend to mull over once we’ve helped them become aware of the options available, usually because for the most part they come to us with a computer support problem and expect a simple solution to that problem, yet the solutions provided tend to also have additional capabilities. Thus these wish lists get born. “Oh, I didn’t know we could do that, too” is a very common refrain and helps our clients start considering additional things they may like a solution to resolve for them, often problems they didn’t even realize they had. Even planning under tight budget constraints it can be good to spend some time looking at “want” because it helps you when planning for the next balancing point.

Planning For Growth

I’ve heard it said that for a company to grow, those in charge have to have a plan for growth, and IT services are no exception. When one of customers asks us to consider new services or equipment, we also ask them to consider how they plan for this to be used in the future. Going back to our file sharing example, perhaps you expect to have more physical locations in the future. Do you expect to have projects synchronized among the sites in order to have faster local access to all projects? Or do you want them pulled across sites only as needed? One requires more local storage than the other as well as access to synchronization software. It’s a somewhat contrived example, but you get the idea. Where are you taking your company? Will this solution scale? More importantly, if I purchase this equipment now will I still be able to use it down the road or have to buy something else? Maybe the money involved won’t matter then. These are all questions we can help our customers be aware of but we can’t answer for them.

Whomever you choose to provide your computer and IT support services, don’t be afraid to let them be your Technical Advocates. They should not be afraid to provide the information you need in order to help you make the most informed choice. Be wary if they push a specific product and simply won’t budge, or if they are unwilling to support your choices if they contradict their suggestions. Worse, if they refuse to get involved with the information gathering and are simply there to make the purchase and install the kit, then you need to find someone who will go the extra mile for you. If you find yourself in that situation, give us a call.