5 Top Tips for Easy IT Refreshes

The IT refresh: it’s something that most IT professionals wish would just take care of itself. Unfortunately, in the real world, things are not nearly so simple. You must be ready to tackle your IT refresh head on, or else risk running on an outdated system that doesn’t meet the needs of your business.

Updating your software and hardware may be unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a complete pain. Follow the tips laid out in this post to get the most streamlined, problem-free IT refresh possible.

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1. Make sure you have a detailed plan to guide your refresh

Anyone who’s ever tried to undertake a complex IT infrastructure project without planning it out in detail first knows exactly how well that usually works out. With something as complex and problematic as an IT refresh, why make things even more difficult by failing to plan?

The key thing to keep in mind is that you must know exactly what you hope to accomplish with your refresh before you can possibly hope to accomplish it. Start with a list of key goals, and then use those goals to guide the rest of your plan.

2. Ensure that your legacy equipment is compatible with any new hardware or software you implement

Completely replacing your IT systems all at once is insanely expensive, and as it turns out, usually not necessary. Even if your systems are in desperate need of a refresh, there are always going to be existing elements of your IT infrastructure that can still get good use.

Keeping these legacy systems around for less intensive applications makes sense financially, but at the same time, you need to make sure that the old and the new can play nice with one another. Make sure to select software and hardware that is capable of integrating with your legacy equipment.

3. Get a second opinion

This may come as a surprise to some, but IT heroes don’t always get things right the first time. The truly effective leaders understand that they’re not perfect, and know that getting a second opinion about the company’s needs and the best way of meeting those needs can really pay dividends during an IT refresh.

The second opinion could come from an internal stakeholder, or from an external IT service provider. Either way, the important thing is to get a different perspective in order to pick up on things you might have missed the first time.

4. Expect the unexpected—and budget for it

The sad truth is that most IT refreshes don’t go exactly as planned. Throughout the course of a deployment, there are bound to be surprises; the key thing is making sure these surprises don’t completely throw you for a loop.

IT leaders need to plan for these problems in their budgets as well. Whatever you expect your refresh project to cost, make sure to tack on some additional headroom, so that your budget can account for any problems that weren't part of the original plan. These problems could include an overlooked system requirement that leads to a last-minute update or the refresh taking longer than you expected forcing you to keep running old applications. Of course there is the possibility that things can fail after the upgrade and you will have to make adjustments. If you consider these things on the forefront, you can save yourself problems on the backend.

5. Take time to backup all data

In addition to tacking on extra dollars to your IT refresh, it is best practice to budget extra time. Before implementing a refresh, it is important that you backup all existing data. Backups are the single most important security measure you can take. Backing up your data keeps your business secure from unexpected failures, power outages, hackers, and glitches with new systems. Back up your business data and rest assured that you can will have access to it in the event of a crash.

Complete backups can take up to a week to complete, so make sure you account for that time during your refresh. This will save you time and headaches in the future.

At the end of the day, the success or failure of your IT refresh project is going to come down to the people actually doing the work on your behalf. By working with an experienced, professional IT service provider, you can feel confident that your organization will get the capabilities it needs from its new IT systems, and that the project itself will go smoothly.