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When to Engage Your IT Team for a Major Project

Dave Hodgdon and Roland Carter from PCG IT, a managed IT services provider with offices in Portsmouth, Dover, Manchester, and Portland, discuss engaging your IT team for a major project.

Portsmouth Computer Group · When to Engage Your IT Team for a Major Project

Mike: It is Tech Tuesday here on WTS, and we’re all powered today by Portsmouth Computer Group. They’re out of Portsmouth and Dover and new locations in Manchester and Portland, Maine. PCG IT. For world-class IT service and customer support, go to their website, pcgit.com.

Roland and Dave are in the studio.

All right, so today we’re going to talk about when to engage your IT team for a major project.

Dave Hodgdon: Major project.

Mike: So, what are we talking about here, Dave?

Engaging IT Team For a Major Project

Dave: I think every organization, Mike, has a project that comes around during the course of the year, whether it’s a company move, you’re going to make a transition from your line of business to the cloud, you’re going to change your email, you’re going to add a new phone system. It’s just like moving your house. When you move, getting the kids into school, changing your credit cards, getting the oil people to move. There are a lot of moving parts, and it’s very stressful.

Too many times the organizations don’t have what’s known as a Project Lead or Manager, Mike, to make this all come together. So, we want to talk about a few things and how a company could be better prepared to have a successful project implementation.

Developing a Plan

Mike: All right. So, you need to have a plan, you need to have a budget, you need to be able to go forward with this. Right, Roland?

Roland Carter:           No, that’s absolutely right. We’re moving a lot of people into the cloud right now, so we have Azure, which is a Microsoft product.

Mike: Yeah, we talked about that a couple of weeks ago.

Roland: Yeah, right? So, trying to move everyone into the cloud, and it’s not just take the server from your in-house and just dropping it in the cloud system, right? There’s a lot of things that go on with that. Your line of business application, it’s also moving up there, so you have to engage the vendor. You have to talk with them to say, “Hey, what resources do we need? How is this going to impact the client? Is there going to be downtime?” And also talking with the point of contact that’s onsite and saying, “Hey, here’s what’s going to be happening.” We’re doing a lot of this right now with files, moving your files up there. So, “Where am I going to be able to locate those? Where is that going to be?”

Preparing for Curve Balls

Mike: Yeah, you’ve used the term “scope creep.” What does that look-

Roland: Yeah, scope-

Mike: In preparing our little segment today, I heard you say scope creep, and I said, “What is that? I’ll just ask Dave. He knows.”

Dave: Well, in my mind it happens to us every day. You think something’s going to work out this way, and all of a sudden, “Wait a minute. That showed up. Oh, I didn’t think about that. Oh, this third party thing happened.” So, things just happen that you’re not expecting. So scope creep is a very common way that… You design the project, you think about it, and all of a sudden there’s this curve ball, this third party application. “Oh, you didn’t tell me about that. You want us to integrate that?” So, it’s a very common thing. Usually we call timeout at that point, rethink the project, it’s almost like another phase, and then engage that. But it hits us every day. We get used to it.

Mike: Is there a huge percentage of businesses and companies that go through these major moves like this?

Dave: Absolutely.

Roland: Yeah, all the time.

Dave: All the time. I would say during the course of the year, probably four to five company moves. I think that’s one of the bigger ones. We’re going to talk about a little bit more the Azure, moving to the cloud. That is a lot of moving pieces.

Roland: Yeah. Moving to the cloud where, like I said, we’re not just taking your on-premise server and just dropping it over there. We actually have to move everything through the internet. It’s moving your line of business application, it’s moving how your users are logging into their computers, how their network is set up. There’s just a lot of moving pieces with that. So, it’s difficult sometimes to realize what’s onsite and what you have to move up there. That’s where that scope creep comes into place. But, like Dave said, there’s always some of that that happens. We try to plan and expect for that piece.

Dave: One thing we like to do, Mike, is make it seamless to the end users. They don’t really care if the product is sitting here at WTS in the building or it’s in the cloud. The cloud could be someone’s back closet or Microsoft or Amazon web services. But when you make that move, they got to be able to connect. Now that the connection is out in the cloud, how am I going to print locally, where before my servers were right there and I could print?

There are probably 30 to 40 things you need to think about through, and it requires a project manager. It needs planning. The key is you need to test it. You always want to test it first before you go live, and that’s too many things. People just want to move it, and all of a sudden your chaos starts.

Roland: No, it’s true. The other thing to think about: some vendors do license differently depending on where it lives. So, if it’s living in-house on a server, it’s X, Y, Z pricing. If you’re moving it to the cloud and it’s on a virtual machine now, then you’re getting a slightly different pricing based on that.

Mike: Now why would that be? Why would that be? It’s the same product, their servers, though, right?

Roland: Yeah. They look at it differently as far as support and the kind of hardware that it’s on. When they build that specific software package, they’re looking at what can this actually live on. So, when you move it into a virtual environment, some vendors do get uncomfortable with that, saying, “Well, we didn’t exactly build it for that.” Others are saying, “Yeah, no problem. We’ve tested it in all environments. It’s good to go.” And then we have some that are saying, “Well, we’ve heard of it going there, and we’re not exactly sure.”

Mike: “We think it’s going there.”

Dave: But, Mike, company moves are a perfect time to think about, “All right, you’re coming in my house right now, and I’m going to move. I probably want some new furniture. I wanted a new fridge anyway. Hey, you know what? My garage wasn’t set up.” So, it’s time to think about-

Mike: It’s a good time to update the systems.

Dave: It’s a great time because usually the wiring’s aging, it’s aging. So, you really want to think about the building, the location. A lot of people move, Mike, they’ve chosen a location where you can’t get good internet at a good speed. All of a sudden they’re paying this ginormous fee. So, that’s number one: can I get good internet service? Check the wiring and make sure everything where it’s in place for your TVs, your conference room, your wireless access points. Get it done once. It’s like the infrastructure of your house. Get the wiring done first.

Then you need to think about all the moving pieces and how am I going to move with not disrupting my staff? Do you want it done during hours? Well, that’s going to disrupt your staff. So, it has to be staged after hours. You move certain things over, you test the infrastructure, test the internet, make sure everything’s going, and then the big day happens. And when the big day happens, what’s the number one thing you need to do to your servers before you move?

Roland: Well, shut them down?

Dave: Before that.

Roland: Hmm? Make sure that they’re all good and cleaned out?

Mike: Back everything up?

Roland: You tell me to back everything up.

Mike: Back everything up.

Dave: Back everything up. Just because you move, maybe it doesn’t come on. So, have a good solid backup before you move. You’ve got to let the users know there’s going to be a few snafus.

Again, it comes back to you’ve got to define the project. Who’s going to be doing what? You need to determine who the stakeholders are. Are you guys going to move the computers or is PCG? You want to know what information is required.

Mike: Do you do a lot of that? Do you actually move the computers?

Dave: We actually do.

Roland: Sure, yeah.

Dave: We actually do, yeah. It’s not a fun job, but I’d rather have us shut it down properly, label the machines, transport the machines, set them up, and make sure they connect back to the server-

Mike: Make sure everything’s connected.

Dave: … so the user, like Mike might want his monitor, his mouse there.

Mike: So you can go to the printer and not have to worry. “How come it’s not printing?” That type of thing.

Dave: Another great time during the move is a phone system. Maybe it’s archaic. What a perfect time to think about a new phone system.

Mike: Good point, yeah. Good point.

Dave: It’s good stuff. So, it’s all about having the budget. It’s never enough when you plan out a project. So, have that extra, what I call that little kitty in the bank, that you have some extra stuff right there.

I think the best thing people really need to rethink is really think who the stakeholders are and who is going to run the project that ultimately is the point person. If something’s wrong, it’s all feeding through one person so they can update the team. I think companies struggle on trying to not outsource the project. They can do it themselves. There’s many things besides just IT. There’s many things they need to do too, but when it’s IT, they should really call the expert. They should call Roland if it’s an Azure or it’s a cloud. They should call PCG to help them make this move easier.

Mike: Well, you guys have been doing this for a long time now.

Dave: Twenty five years. So, you know the questions to ask. We’ve had some recent companies that make some moves, and we shake our heads. “Why are you doing this?” It’s last minute, it’s chaos, they haven’t thought everything through. We’ve done this enough. We know the questions to ask, because when you change your building from one to another, the internet just doesn’t magically work from one to another, right?

Roland: No.

Dave: Explain about the IPs there.

Moving to Another Location

Roland: No, it definitely doesn’t. You’re going from one location, and you may have one service provider that’s there. Moving to another location, there could be a different service provider. Even among the same provider, you’re technically cutting your service off in one location, turning it on in another. So, they have to distribute a new address for you. It’s just like when you move your house. You don’t take the address with you. You have to have a new one. So, when you get that, there are certain things that have to happen. Your firewall, that gets a brand new address for it so that everything from the outside world can reach the inside and vice versa. So, you really have to plan that one out. You can’t just plop it down inside of your building and expect it to work.

Mike: Well, I like the analogy Dave came up with. If you’re moving to a new house, you’re moving things all around. You need to update some things, and everything has to be rewired sometimes. You might as well update things now in the process of the move.

Dave: You move your credit card, it’s your new address. You just think of everything when you move, from the newspaper, the oil, the gas, your kids’ registration for school, registration for town. There are so many things that you don’t think about. An IT move, Mike, is very stressful.

Mike: This is a major project. This is something not every company goes through very often.

Dave: Correct.

Mike: Maybe a couple of times during the course of the life of a company, or maybe a handful of times at the most. But this is a major project, and, obviously, you don’t want to lose any time in your production and providing services and products to your customers.

Dave: Correct.

Roland: Right.

Mike: That’s where you guys come in.

Roland: Yep.

When to Engage IT Partners

Dave: But as I said, engage your IT partner sooner. Understand what you’re really trying to do, when you want to do it, and you have all the resources available. Does Roland need to really assess? Because if you’re moving old stuff, why do it? Plan out new stuff.

Mike: Sure, absolutely.

Dave: Same thing with your phone system. But you don’t want to get hit with curve balls halfway through. You’re in the middle of move, and all of a sudden, “Uh-oh. I didn’t do this.”

Mike: No, that makes sense.

Dave: You’re going, “Oh my God, it’s chaos.”

Mike: Why have you worry about it when you guys can worry about it?

Dave: We worry well about that right there.

Mike: So, you need to call Roland or any of the PCG Project Manager Specialists at 431-4121. That’s 431-4121, or just go to their website, pcgit.com, for all the details and you can see how the process could work to help your business as well.

Dave: Well, it’s a beautiful process right there, whether it’s an email system, it’s a phone system, it’s a line of business. All those are what I call a major project. Moving one PC? Not a big deal. But anytime there’s multiple people, multiple phases, multiple resources and hours, call Roland.

Mike: Sounds good.

Dave: He’s the guy.

Mike: The guys from PCG, Portsmouth Computer Group, they’ve got offices in Portsmouth and Dover, Manchester and Portland, Maine, pcgit.com. Always great to talk to you guys. Always a pleasure.

Dave: All right. Thank you.

Mike: Tech Tuesday, all right. Good to see you Roland. Thank you, Dave.

Roland: Good to see you, Mike.