Plug in to success—7 steps for a strategic technology lifecycle

used with permission from Microsoft Office Blogs

technology lifecycleTake a minute to think about the applications you use, the programs you depend on and the technologies you’ve integrated into your business. Now ask yourself these questions: If a specific application supported my company in the past, how is it benefiting me now? Are our programs performing in line with our desired standard? What, if anything, am I doing to ensure my technology is not outdated? Is my vendor providing me with resources to manage my applications? Am I really getting the maximum business value from these solutions?

To answer these questions, many enterprise scale organizations use established processes to manage their technology. A technology lifecycle—or TLC—offers a systematic approach for assessing the state of your technologies. Thankfully, this indispensable method applies to both enterprise scale organizations and small and midsize businesses. So whether you’re an experienced IT professional or a technological tenderfoot, considering your TLC will yield promising, practical results.

TLC, defined

Start

Introduce yourself to the product’s benefits, programs, services and content. What’s new with the product? Who else is using it? How does it benefit them? From training resources to accessibility tools, analyzing your products’ perks in the early stages of implementation will drastically influence your business practices later on.

Decide

Select the best product for your business. Evaluate the product to confirm its alignment with your business’s goals. Think about both your current and future needs. Is the product secure and compliant? Will the product scale with future growth? Can you connect with current product users? Is there ongoing support and training for the product? What does the future product roadmap look like? If you choose a product that is cost-effective, yet lacks specific market advantages, you may find yourself trailing behind your competitors.

Deploy

Connect with the product’s customer services, including any deployment assistance programs, step-by-step setup guidance or visual assets. These documents will serve as a roadmap for the successful implementation of your product. Consider your strategies for product-integration. How do you plan for successful deployment and adoption? Can you find demos and guidance? What are the considerations for the businesses most like yours in similar industries, at similar size and with similar business objectives?

Manage

Discover best practices for a successful product launch using an integrated admin console or alternative resources. How do you configure the product? How do you manage or administrate it? Are management and administration tools provided? How should you prepare for change and incidents? How can you assure your data is secure and company policies are being met? Researching practical ways for communicating the new product to employees will result in informed, confident and empowered users.

Develop

Configure and customize the product and integrate it within your company. Develop new and extend existing features and functionalities. Connect the product with line of business applications. Is development guidance provided? Are there opportunities to learn about best practices and see how the product is being modified to solve real business goals? Budget time for aligning your company’s goals and interests with the product, choosing internal applications that further the interest of your organization.

Support

Retain critical support contacts and information to resolve issues with your deployment and management of the product. Consider live support options including in-person, phone or chat. These options should be balanced by online troubleshooting and guidance. Is there a broad set of support options to help me address a range of potential issues? Do you get appropriate and timely notifications? Can you plan for known issues and quickly get unanticipated issues addressed?

Use

Secure the best possible experience with your new technology for you and your end users. Invest in a product with training and adoption options designed specifically to encourage you and your company to further your understanding as you advance with your new technology. Learning how to manage and sustain the product is important for anyone in an IT or administrator role. Similarly, learning is critical for ensuring your end users get the most from your technology investments. Effective product usage can positively impact your business.

Untangle your business, simplify your mind

When assessing technology’s impact, Microsoft has committed to the TLC. In fact, Microsoft’s whole Office Suite is TLC–compatible, offering services, check-ins and pertinent information that might otherwise be unavailable to businesses. Though a technology lifecycle may be just one of the many factors a business-owner or IT professional considers when implementing new technologies in the workplace, the importance of securing quality products with strong business and support services that match your business’s needs cannot be stressed enough.

Rest assured by investing in your business, and thrive on your future success.