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Strategy and Deployment Planning

Determining cost effective ways to implement

There are many options for deploying a CampusMobility solution, especially when deploying a new, or enhancing an existing, wireless network. You may choose to use your own personnel to plan, design, test, deploy, and implement your network. You may choose to hire contractors to perform some or all of these tasks. You might assign someone who works for you to act as project manager, or you may decide to hire a professional project manager to coordinate all activities between your internal organizations and vendors providing services and equipment for your network implementation. Combining a hybrid of these approaches is also an option.

How do you decide which approach is best for your project? Many factors need to be considered, including:

  • Cost/benefit of hiring contractors versus lost productivity from using internal personnel

  • Cost/benefit of hiring professionals versus paying for the "learning curve" as internal personnel learn new tasks

  • Getting the right resources in the right spots, at the right times, to meet project deadlines

  • Risk assessment - what is the cost to your business of failure to bring equipment/services online late, or in a manner that causes customer complaints or customer loss due to poorly functioning equipment?

Equipment staging options

Installing a new hardware-based system into your network may sound simple enough, but this effort actually requires coordinating a wide variety of suppliers and resources. As the person responsible for implementation work, you need to consider:

  • Determining where the equipment will be installed. If cabinets are required, the network implementation team needs to arrange procurement of cabinets, including customization to meet environmental, appearance, and other standards.

  • Documenting site requirements for physical space, power, environmental conditions, and network interfaces. This includes ensuring that the system can be delivered to the place where it is to be installed.

  • Implementing a cable management plan for the cabinet. A sound cabling management strategy is essential to a robust network infrastructure designed for future expansion and growth.

  • Procuring ancillary equipment, such as patch panels, power systems, hubs, and other equipment that supports reliability, management, and integration requirements.

  • Accounting for differences in site requirements. Most high-end network systems are chassis based, and the specific hardware configuration required for each site may be slightly different.

  • Coordinating delivery of major systems elements. You want to be sure the systems are available on time, but at the same time do not want to introduce a risk that the equipment will be lost, stolen, or damaged if it is delivered too far in advance of the scheduled installation date.

  • Ensuring that all parts of the system arrive at the installation site in good working order.

  • Documenting the installation (including cabinet layout and cabling) to facilitate future troubleshooting, maintenance, and expansion or upgrade projects.

  • Configuring the system with the exact software and settings required for your network, and ensuring your on-site engineering team has the experience and work instructions necessary to complete this work.

Implementing a software application faces similar challenges, but also adds new complexity to your considerations for:

  • Procuring the right server with the right hardware configuration

  • Procuring and ensuring the right operating system is installed on the server

  • Procuring and installing supporting applications, such as database software

A strong cabinet integration and staging partner can dramatically reduce the cost and risk profile of your system implementation project.

Determining your employee training needs

  • From 1999-2000, total training expenditures as a percentage of payroll within the technology industry averaged 1.8 to 2.5% of payroll. Payments to outside companies for training services averages 24.3% of total training expenditures. (2001 ASTD State of the Industry Report)

  • At the same time, thirty percent of all skills acquired during formal training are lost if not used within one week of course completion. Eighty percent of skills are lost if not used within three months. With today's budget and staff limitations, you need to make the most of your training dollars.

Training technical staff today is an investment in long term job satisfaction and employee productivity. However, training staff without thinking through the answers to some very important questions may likely result in lost training dollars and missed performance targets. Management who take the time to consider why they are training staff can better support training interventions by linking training programs to real business results.

How do you determine who needs to be trained, and when? What options are available from network vendors? What must you consider when making your training plans?

Planning for deployment

You've designed and planned your network. You've conducted extensive lab testing and likely rolled out a test implementation to a small market segment. And you've made the decision to move forward and invest in your new or expanded network to deliver profitable new services.

Now you need to determine how to get your new systems deployed and running quickly without disrupting your business and draining your internal resources. Efficient deployment requires detailed plans.

  • What is your timeline for network deployment?

  • Does your budget support the timeline?

  • Have you accounted for all tasks required to deploy the network?

  • Who will do the work required to deploy the network?

  • Do you have a strong Project Manager in place to coordinate all aspects of the deployment?

  • Who will manage all of the vendors needed for deployment?

By creating a documented and management approved Deployment Plan, you can build a solid foundation on which to schedule deployment tasks and associated costs. Your plan should consider scheduling for network integration, turn-up, cut-over, and monitoring activities. The Deployment Plan should also detail staffing needs and responsibilities, task checklists, and project review checkpoints.

Customizing your applications

Today's networks are a complex blend of old and new. Emerging technologies are integrated into existing infrastructure to create new service offerings or to enhance established services. This environment results in a network that is constantly evolving and changing structure. Keeping pace demands a flexible approach that enables you to leverage existing systems infrastructure yet still take advantage of new products on the market.

When your network or operations plan calls for custom software development to bridge gaps between varying systems, how should you proceed? When is it best to use an independent software development shop, your own in-house resources, or your network vendor's professional service organization?

If designing and building a custom application requires in-depth knowledge and understanding of the product and its interfaces, you may be best served to contract this development work to your network vendor's professional service organization. These organizations maintain dedicated staff experienced in developing middleware and other applications that complement standard product offerings, allowing you to adapt them to a specific operations environment.