If you look up information on preparing for the end of year in IT, the majority of the results will refer to accounting (which is not the results you were hoping to get). For many companies, the year-end is also the fiscal year-end. For consumer retail and sales companies, it is very likely the busiest time of the year thanks to the holiday season. As I write this, it is still about week until Black Friday. That means I am writing this using cellular service, on my laptop, in front of a major chain store, where me and my tent are already 50th in line to get in on Black Thursday (previously known as Thanksgiving). Okay, maybe I exaggerate (a little).
So, how does all this affect IT? In many companies, the paradigm for IT changes from the rest of the year. At this point, production systems become locked. There are no further changes allowed to production until January of the next year. Only approved emergency and break/fix changes are allowed. Why? Here are a few reasons:
- For those companies that are busiest during the holiday season, they need IT to be prepared and ready to ramp up for the higher demand. Business hours will probably become longer and after-hours time will decrease. Systems are going to be busy. So busy, that more servers may be needed to supply increased demand. This is one of those places that the investment in virtualization will definitely pay off. This means that ITs primary focus will be on consistent and reliable day-to-day operations.
- That fiscal year-end mentioned earlier, means the accountants, financial groups, and leaders in the organization are trying to close out the year and prepare for the next. Their highest priority is the next year is tax season. And of course, no changes or interruptions to their resources.
- That fiscal year-end also means that the IT budget for the year has probably been allocated already (use it or lose it). There will probably little to nothing left for expenditures until the next year (which is a little over a month away). So, don’t expect a new project to be started.
- IT directors and their staff will now have a stronger focus on next year’s budget and balancing their needs and wants. So more IT time will be allocated to reporting and forecasting.
- It is the Holiday Season. It is the time that of the year where the greatest amount of vacation time is spent. Of these last five weeks of the year, children are out of school for about three of them. Even college kids are home from school for a significant amount of time. The organizations IT staff is going to be running a lot leaner. The smaller the IT staff, the bigger the impact. Very few places are going to give their entire IT staff time off at once, but they are still going to be running with a smaller crew. Trying to avoid problems while the expertise is not in-house will be a priority. Therefore, no changes until the end of the holiday season.
- There are organizations that are affected differently by the end of the year. The items mentioned above play out differently for them. Some organizations have a fiscal year-end that is different from the calendar year-end. In most of those cases, they do that because the calendar year end is too busy to allow both conditions to occur at the same time. However, the time-off factor is going to affect almost every organization no matter how big or small.
So where does this leave IT? Those of us in IT need to perform the daily tasks and also prepare for the year-end. The year-end has alterations to backups, daily operations, resource needs and more. Check back here for blogs that are going to discuss the tasks we in IT need to perform to prepare for the end of one year and the start of the next.
Do you have any specific questions, or topic you’d like to us to discuss as it related to year-end planning? Please feel free to email me or post your questions below.
Craig R. Kalty (CCIA, CCEE, CCA, MCITP:EA, MCITP:SA, VCP)|
Sr. Network Consultant
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