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IT Networks: How to Argue for a Bigger Budget

IT network managers have to fight the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" mindset to win resources. With computer networks, that mindset is dangerously complacent. IT networks will keep pumping data until they die or let in hackers. Here are some winning arguments against "if it ain't broke…" IT Network Maintenance: Better Analogies Don’t let your IT network's budget get lumped with IT in general--or worse, operations in general. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" sometimes makes sense in IT or operations. Upgrading workstations or desks can cost productivity, making it self-defeating.

You have to stress that IT networks are different from workstations or desks. IT networks are harder to repair. IT networks cannot be done without until fixed. You depend on them for email, web, file transfers, and in some organizations, printing, fax and telephone. If your network breaks you may be forced to rely on hand-written letters.

IT network improvements rarely lower productivity on the front line. Instead, a faster, more reliable network can improve front-line productivity. Here are the analogies you should stress to counter "if it ain't broke": Plumbing: IT networks will appear to function until they burst. The damage will be more expensive than maintenance ever could have been. In the meantime, you are losing productivity to all the little "leaks." Dams: If a poorly maintained IT network bursts, the eventual flood will harm overall productivity. War: There is no such thing as "good enough" when you are in competition. With an IT network, you're in a quiet arms race with hackers. You are also competing with your business competitors in terms of productivity. Health: Your IT network has to be in top physical condition.

You can't make up for bad habits with a week or two of "rejuvenation." Meanwhile, your day-to-day performance will suffer. Cars: Don't wait for your IT network to conk out. Get a regular tune-up of up-to-date equipment. IT Network Maintenance: What Can Go Wrong Now, let's drive the point home. Here are some concrete, easy-to-explain reasons to keep your network up-to-date: Power supplies. Without redundant backups, your network is vulnerable to a shutdown. The lost productivity will make extra equipment seem inexpensive in comparison. Integrity. Faulty or contradictory data can break older networks.

Newer equipment has solved these problems. Again, the potential cost of lost productivity makes newer equipment a good value. Firewalls. Hackers can leak trade secrets stolen from unprotected networks. Firewall software upgrades are relatively inexpensive. VOIP. Organizations worldwide are switching to VOIP--not just outside-line telephones but also switchboard and teleconferencing. If your network is out-of-date, it may fail when you eventually try this new technology. Speed. Older platforms such as 10BASET will throttle your bandwidth.

You can now upgrade to a Terabit or more. Just think of the seconds, minutes, hours, and days lost as staff wait for email to arrive and web pages to load. Final tip: show how cost-effective IT network maintenance really is. Get a firm cost estimate from a vendor. Just make sure your cost estimate is as competitive as it can be. You can often get new equipment at half the cost of retail by buying refurbished equipment. Close your case for a better network with this wisdom: no matter what you pay, keeping your network up-to-date is cheaper than the consequences of letting it fall into disrepair.


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