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IT infrastructure managers – what’s keeping you awake at night?

Can you remember the last time you got a really decent night’s sleep? It might seem like an odd question to ask in a tech blog but the reality for many of us is that sleep is frequently interrupted or hard to achieve in the first place if you’re worrying about work – and for most of us, it’s a lack of control that’s at the heart of the problem.

I have a position of responsibility in a global business with international colleagues reporting to me, a personal quota of content to create, strategies to formulate, campaigns to build, events to organize and there’s always a deadline. I also have bosses who are engaged with what my team does and like to be kept informed, which means I always need to know what’s going on because at some point, someone’s going to start asking questions.

Now, I’ve always been pretty organised but as my career progressed and I started to take on more responsibility I thought it might be time to investigate whether there was a way to help me manage my time more effectively and still get the best from my team. Perhaps a little unusually for a marketer, I chose one of the more popular project management courses because in theory, it was a decent match for my day-to-day workload. However, there was a slight problem – for my discipline, there wasn’t really anything purpose-made available, so I chose a ‘best of what’s available’ industrial methodology that had some aspects relevant to my role. In reality, it was probably much better suited to tasks like software development or manufacturing. It was a good course but I’ve probably regularly used less than 5% of what I was taught, simply because it wasn’t designed specifically to meet the needs of my role as a marketer. Do I sleep better? Maybe, sometimes. Have I bothered to retake the course to keep my qualification up to date? No.

It started me thinking about the issues an IT infrastructure manager might face when faced with having to deliver a major project themselves. I considered how much benefit the methodology I’d been taught would provide but it came up really short when I compared it to what would be needed in a complex structured cabling deployment. I’m pretty lucky because I rarely need the support of others outside of my team to be able to perform the technical aspects of my job but for IT infrastructure projects it’s certainly the case that most project owners would seek external advice and expertise. In that same situation, I’m not sure who I’d turn to for help or even if I’d know exactly what I needed.

And it’s clearly not just about the project management methodology used that’s important in this kind of deployment either; a project owner really needs to have a level of technical knowledge, not just of the physical hardware but of the overall planning and deployment process. I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post that IT managers have real skills and experience when it comes to managing the equipment and services that run across their physical cable network but when it’s time to upgrade, extend or build a new network, it’s a very different and specific set of skills that is needed. It’s really nothing to be ashamed of – adding or replacing a chunk of physical network is pretty different to managing and maintaining a ready-built LAN and I’d be in a similar position if I were ever asked to roll out say, a global graphic design software platform; I think I’d know what it needed to be able to do and I’d probably even understand quite a bit about using the software itself but I certainly wouldn’t have much of idea of how to implement the installation.

Lost the will to live yet? No way – I can tell you’re in this for the long haul and we’re just getting to the fun part – it’s your turn to manage the project!

Project owners ideally need to understand requirements capture, system design, planning, procurement, installation and commissioning for all the components of a structured cabling system and all the attached IP devices, like CCTV, access control, connected LED lighting, HVAC, IoT (Machine to Machine) equipment. Then there’s the installation itself – pulling cables through walls, floors and across roof spaces, on construction sites where many trades are operating simultaneously and it’s important to remember that in a working business there are issues of business continuity, health and safety and more.

With a responsibility for identifying the right technologies and procuring appropriate products to satisfy future expansion and storage requirements and for meeting the needs of emerging trends like BYOD and enhanced security, it’s pretty clear that this sort of build can quickly become a full-time role.

Once the word is out that you’re looking for product suppliers, the deluge of phone calls from hopeful vendors begins and even when you’ve selected the ones you want to deal with, the calls won’t stop – it’ll be you having to chase them to place orders and deal with returns of incorrectly supplied or faulty equipment.

Let’s assume you’ve defined what is required, sought quotations from a range of suppliers and now need to get the network cabling installed in a new-build factory or an office refurbishment. You might turn to the construction site manager to organize a sub-contractor to fulfill the installation process but wait… the site manager will likely ask the M&E contractor to find an installer to do the work, which means you’re already three communication steps away from up to date, accurate and timely updates on project progress. Not only that, each of these steps incurs additional project cost. None of this is great if there are demanding delivery deadlines, tight budgets or a range of geographically-dispersed stakeholders each requiring regular project progress updates.

Now multiply every one of these sleep-sapping issues by as many sites as you’re being asked to manage simultaneously and factor in that some of these sites might be remote from headquarters, even overseas. Who’ll organize international shipping, export licences and logistics? Will there be currency issues? How about making sure installers have the correct public liability insurances? Who’ll identify an interpreter with local language skills and sufficient technical knowledge that can help? Who’s the local expert who’ll make sure the installation is carried out to meet the needs of your business and is compliant with local legal and technical regulations? Wait, it’s you again and I’m beginning to wonder if you’ll ever sleep again! So, how can you fix all of this?

Well, there is now a project management service with a methodology designed specifically for multi-site LAN cabling projects that also works great for complex, large-scale single-site projects.

It provides 24-7 online visibility of every single one of your projects and comes with a fully accountable project manager who is expert in all things cabling (and I mean fully-accountable for EVERYTHING).

And what if the company providing this service was a proven global player with 30+ years’ expertise in structured cabling and IP-related product development, so you know you can trust their technical knowledge? Yeah, you’d buy that and then have the best night’s sleep of your life.

If you need a confident, “Don’t worry, we got this” from a strategic IT infrastructure deployment partner, Molex Connected Enterprise Solutions is the advisor you can trust.

Dave Hitchins
Global Marketing Manager
Molex Connected Enterprise Solutions
September 2016

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