Five crucial capacity planning considerations for IT managers
We’ve all called a customer support line only to get told that ‘due to high call volumes, waiting times may be long’. As frustrating as it is for customers, it's even more frustrating for support agents at the receiving end of an irate client's tirade (I have been there countless times). Another source of frustration is hearing (or saying), ‘Please bear with me, our systems are (always) slow.’ This is an example of bad capacity planning and a lack of research for sure.
From an IT manager’s perspective, just keeping operations running smoothly is an art in itself. Things can and do go wrong in IT systems. It's not enough, however, just to keep on ‘putting out fires’. Being able to forecast, predict and plan for future IT capacity requires intelligent planning, research and orchestration.
Find below five helpful tips to take into consideration when doing capacity planning:
Keep things simple and small. Many capacity planning projects founder because the scope is too much to handle. It's best to start off by targeting business critical operations like network connectivity, VOIP and internet first, and then move on to the less critical stuff. Even a massive international organization can be broken up into manageable divisions or sections. Dividing an organization into sections and delegating responsibility makes it easier to manage and get results. Another missed strategy is ignoring the ‘voice’ of staff, customers and suppliers. Listen to their suggestions and take action as they often provide one with solutions that one could never have thought of.
Involve the right people.
Involve the right people in research and development. Having the correct staff on board is not just an advantage, it’s a must-have. Involve suppliers and service providers as they may have the necessary know-how and experience that your team may lack. They may also provide you with cost effective ways to improve processes and advance with the times.
A huge part of business continuity and part of ISO 22301 is continual improvement. There are two key factors here:
- Improve: Always set goals and targets to improve. Use kaizen to great advantage here.
- Continue: Make it an ongoing process, not a once-off operation.
Be mindful of the human element.
A high staff turnover rate will impact IT operations. Setting up new users and training can put a huge strain on IT staff, eating up time that can be used for future planning and implementation. Research software and platforms that are user friendly, easily scalable, easy to manage and provide useful metrics. Drastic change is a productivity killer so implement changes gradually and with proper training.
Check, double check and triple check.
Something that my teachers used to drum into me: check, double check and triple check. Be systematic about maintenance runs. Run scheduled maintenance and simulation events and use the findings to improve processes. Generate audit reports. These events can reveal shortcomings, which can then be addressed.
Most of all, always think ahead, do market research and data analysis. It’s a daunting task predicting what lies ahead, but an intelligent approach to capacity planning is vital. Use data and metrics to help determine gaps and weaknesses. Involve suppliers, staff and upper management in the planning process, be transparent and communicate effectively with all levels of staff. All of this will make capacity planning an easier task. Research new technologies and techniques in order to constantly improve. Keep all of these factors in mind when doing capacity planning.
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