At some point, your IT solutions require upgrades or replacements – planned or not.
Regardless of what prompts a project, upgrades and replacements for on-premises solutions mean downtime and interruption.
How much downtime and interruption you can tolerate varies based on your business. Still, almost every organization wants its IT environment back up and running as quickly as possible.
With nearly every IT project The KR Group assists with, the first question we’re asked is how much downtime the customer should expect
The amount of downtime for a project depends on the scope of the project. But, whether you’re implementing a new phone system, doing a server refresh, or migrating to the cloud, you want the project to cause the least amount of disruption as possible.
Being focused on IT ourselves, we know first-hand the concerns you have going into any project that has the potential to cause downtime:
- Is it possible to avoid interruption?
- What are my options to minimize downtime?
- How can I prepare my company for anticipated downtime?
In this article, we’ll be referencing collaboration projects. However, keep in mind that the answers we’ll provide can apply to various IT projects.
Is it possible to avoid interruption?
Interruption is a dreaded but necessary component of IT.
To stay current – which is important for security and functionality – you’ll have to upgrade or replace solutions at some point.
No CIO or IT manager gets excited about interruption or downtime, but it is what makes feature and solution enhancements possible. Additionally, taking the time for planned downtime to keep your IT environment current can reduce the likelihood of unexpected downtime from failing solutions.
An exception to interruption being unavoidable is for cloud-hosted solutions. While you’ll have the original interruption when you migrate, the vendor hosting your solution handles the upgrades, so interruption isn’t typically noticeable on the client’s end.
How to minimize downtime
Since downtime is generally unavoidable, the goal is to minimize the inevitable as much as possible.
As we mentioned earlier, downtime tolerance varies from industry to industry.
For example, an office with 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. business hours has a higher tolerance for downtime than a manufacturer with 24/7 operations.
Regardless, minimizing downtime is preferable to all businesses.
Some of the most efficient ways to reduce downtime include:
Redundancy can be accomplished at varying levels of your IT environment.
With a VoIP phone system upgrade or implementation, the components you may want to consider for redundancy are:
- Servers: Having redundancy at this level protects your IT environment against hardware issues.
- Internet connection: Redundancy may already be in place at other levels of your business (hosted email), but additional redundancy may be necessary if you have SIP trunks or IP-based delivery of traditional copper wires.
- Voice gateways: Like redundant servers, redundancy at this level allows you to fully leverage application redundancy and have a back-up in case of a hardware failure.
As a bonus, implementing redundancy allows you to select a lower tier of vendor support since you’re not at risk of that component of your environment failing without a back-up.
2. Rerouting calls
Redundancy looks different in 2021 than it did in 2001.
When it comes to phone system redundancy, it’s almost unheard of for an employee not to have a smartphone or cell phone to forward calls to if the upgrade or implementation includes desk phones.
Traditionally, a desk phone upgrade could create a headache trying to time and plan an upgrade without taking too many phones offline for too long.
While this type of upgrade can still be time-consuming, the ability to create softphones and forward calls to a mobile device takes some of the pressure off the IT department when it comes to the duration of a project.
3. Working with an IT consultant
As an IT consulting company, we find ways to help businesses reduce downtime.
When you call in another consultant or us to help with a phone system upgrade or implementation, we’ve likely helped another customer with a similar project.
We know how to plan for downtime, your options, and how to forward and unforward calls. In other words, we have the experience and knowledge that can speed up the project’s process and reduce your downtime.
Communicating about anticipated downtime
Once you’ve planned out the project on the IT department’s end, you need to make sure you communicate with the rest of the organization what to expect.
Clear communication can go a long way in making the upgrade or implementation process go off without a hitch.
Your company-wide communication should include points such as:
- What systems will be affected
- How long those systems will be affected
- What the purpose of the upgrade or implementation is
- What will change with the upgrade or implementation
If you don’t communicate the planned interruption with other employees, they’ll find out on their own that something doesn’t work. By failing to share this information, you’ll be bombarded with service requests for an issue that is tied to planned downtime.
To avoid this, over-communicate and include information that is timely, informative, and accurate.
What to keep in mind when planning IT projects
At The KR Group, our goal is to help our customers have a positive IT experience.
This includes the business owners looking to hand over their IT environment and CIOs and IT managers looking for an external resource to assist with projects.
Our engineers are experienced and knowledgeable. They work every day to minimize common IT frustrations – including interruption during new solution implementation or upgrades.
At the end of the day, we hope you focus on the positive outcomes of implementing or upgrading a solution instead of the hassle it was to complete the project.
While at least some downtime is inevitable, there are ways to minimize it. You can implement redundancy, reroute calls, or work with an IT consultant to cause less frustration regarding downtime.
Our best advice for a seamless upgrade or implementation is to communicate clearly with your organization what to expect. Even though there will be some downtime, setting expectations will mitigate a lot of frustration.
Are you interested in having The KR Group help you with a project upgrade or implementation? Download our free infrastructure services timeline for more information on what to expect throughout the process.