A network can be essential to the success of your business. Well-designed and well-maintained enterprise networks elevate companies from one of many to an industry leader by reducing wasted resources and optimizing day-to-day operations.
Networks can reduce costs, improve communication, boost collaboration, strengthen security, heighten efficiency, and create greater organization and production across your factory floor. But what makes a well-designed network? How have recent challenges from COVID-19 affected network design and maintenance? What do you need to know?
At Federated Service Solutions (FSS), we see it all the time. You know you need a network, but you stumble out of the gates with bad information or poor planning. When the network is up and running, it’s not what you hoped for. However, the costs are too much and you can’t start over. No company — large or small — should get stuck with poor network quality. With the right plan in place, you can get a network designed and maintained from a distance by a team of dedicated experts. And, in addition to the cost savings and long-term rewards, the process can actually be fun when you work with the right people.
“Usually when you hear your boss say “let’s put together a network,” there’s a general sense of dread; it’s kind of like going to the dentist — nobody looks forward to it,” says Jason Schultz, Advanced Services Administrator for FSS. “But, at Federated, we try to make it fun. We’re not the scary dentist. We’re more like the kids’ dentist. We are approachable, happy to be doing what we do, someone you like seeing, and, most importantly, we make the process pretty painless.”
We’ve learned a few simple steps that can turn a drab and daunting experience into one where your business gets what it needs and you are confident that your network is the one you want, not the one you’re stuck with. With FSS by your side, you don’t need to learn as you go — use our experience to guide you.
Have a Plan in Place
You wouldn’t manufacture your product without a plan and you shouldn’t treat a new network with any less care. At FSS, we start with client meetings that pull together information from everyone — the client C-suite, their department heads, key resources, and our own industry experience. Once you can visualize real needs, you can develop a plan that will be useful today and not a detriment in the future. The last thing you want is to have to start all over in a couple of years — it’s fun for us, but not so fun for you!
Keep the Future in Sight
It’s also important to consider future needs like new applications, new software, and where the technology in your industry is headed. Each add-on means more processing power, bandwidth, electricity, support staff, and more tangible resources.
That being said, trying to plan for future events can feel impossible.
Few networks designed in 2018 could have anticipated the unprecedented amount of remote work requirements that would be needed when COVID-19 hit just two years later. Still, by designing your network to accommodate some future trends and working with a team capable of making future modifications quickly and within budget, you can avoid a costly second network design down the road.
“Flexibility is going to be a big part of your planning process,” advises Schultz. “You’re never really done building a network. There’s always some new thing to add or something that can be fixed and optimized. Not everything will require large-scale change, but you don’t want to paint yourself into a corner with a network that can’t be fixed on the fly. With the ability to adapt, your network can be an asset to your growth, not a liability.”
Once Deployed, Fine-Tune Your Enterprise Network
It’s the little things that make the difference. You can get a haircut every two years and deal with a big change or you can work with it every few weeks — a trim here and there — and nobody on the outside will see a difference. Fine-tuning the network is a lot like a regular trim. With help from an external or internal team, you can stay connected with your network and make the occasional change, set up new configurations, and make sure everything looks good and stays efficient all year long.
For companies that are expanding into more online sales, working with new markets, or adding new physical locations, regular network maintenance is especially important. The last thing you want is to have to scrap or delay a project because your network couldn’t handle what you thought it could.
Don’t Ignore These Key Enterprise Network Considerations
We’ve built a lot of networks. A lot. Like…a lot. And in all that time, we’ve seen the things that cause a business to fall behind. So, take it from us; keep the following things front of mind when you are designing and maintaining your network. You’ll face fewer headaches if you do!
- Focus on Design: If you’re a large company, you need consistency across all your locations. Don’t procrastinate on the design. Make sure you consider potential security concerns and keep the whole picture in mind. Know what the main goal of the network is and how you’ll be depending on it.
- Work in Redundancies: One of the worst things ever is preparing a presentation when your computer crashes and you lose all your work. Systems crash. Power can go out. Bob from HR tripped on a cord. Things happen and, when things happen, the prepared people push forward. Do you have a hot spare, failsafe, or backup? Planning for any eventuality is what gets your business through every predicament.
- People Still Matter: Everyone wants to be in the know, but your network shouldn’t be a place for all employees. You need to secure your most secure locations by limiting access. Today’s most advanced enterprise networks don’t require a staff of twenty. You can achieve the highest level of reliability with a few on-site employees having access and a dedicated team off-site who can connect remotely for troubleshooting.
FSS: Your Proven Solutions Partner
It may sound a lot like a self-endorsement, but we love what we do at Federated and we think you’ll love working with us too!
“I think I can speak for anyone at Federated when I say we believe in what we do,” says Schultz. “We’re selling a service, yeah, but more than that we’re selling a solution to a problem. We want to help businesses succeed and the best way we know how to do that is by sharing the secrets we’ve learned over years and decades.”
Do you want a network that works? Do you want to save money, reduce on-site costs, limit security breaches, and maybe even have some fun while you do it?