Archive for December, 2010

Snow, snow, snow, or why IT Professionals are like Scandinavians

Posted in Connect Cardiff on December 6th, 2010 by KevinH – Comments Off

By technical director, Kevin Herbert.

The snow is here, and the minds of many are focused on how to turn the inevitable disruption to our advantage; to make some connection between the services we offer and the unavoidable, yet all too predictable  chaos.

It’s at this time of year that IT companies start talking about remote access, cloud based services, secure two-factor authentication and all the other technological marvels that enable us to work effectively and efficiently from home.

 And that  is as it should be.

These products and services are beneficial enough in normal times, but when half your workforce can’t get in to the office, they become invaluable.  So it is right and proper that we should use this annual paralysis to highlight our specific solutions to this very general problem.

However, I’m no salesperson (as my colleagues in Sales and Marketing will testify!), so my train of thought went in a slightly different direction. Why is it, I wondered, that this disruption is both predictable and yet seemingly unavoidable? Why, said the rapidly developing grumpy old man inside me, can’t we cope? They get far more snow in Eastern and Northern Europe and they keep going, what is wrong with us in the UK?

Of course, the answer is relatively simple. There is nothing wrong with us.  The reason the Scandinavians cope with the snow so well is that they are used to it. They take conditions  that would render this country immobile in their Nordic stride.  We only have to deal with those sort of conditions for maybe a week or two every other year and we rarely get severe conditions country-wide.

Because other countries deal with such conditions all the time, for extended periods, they are properly equipped. They have the right kind of tyres, they carry shovels in their cars, they know how to keep their airports open.

And my point is?

For treacherous weather conditions read complex IT projects, for Scandinavians read…well…us. Professional IT services companies that is.

If your core business is building factories, making helicopters or selling fish, you shouldn’t expect to be able to  manage complex IT projects as well as a company like NSUK, even if you have a dedicated IT department. At NSUK we are good at what we do; we have committed, well trained staff, tried and tested  processes and a strong ethic of customer service. But a large part of our success is down to the fact that we do this sort of thing all the time.

You might arrange an office relocation every ten years or so, we deal with one every couple of months.

You may upgrade core IT systems once every three years (by which time the people who did it the first time may have left the company). We do it for one of our clients every few weeks.

You may install a new communications and network infrastructure once a year at most, we do it literally every day.

And because we do these things so frequently, we make sure that we are properly ‘equipped’.

We have a dedicated team of Project Managers, whose main function is managing the successful delivery of IT projects, and we feed the lessons learned on every project into continual process improvement for all our clients.

We have a continual programme of R&D into new and emerging technologies and new software and hardware releases, so we can anticipate how these advances can benefit our clients, and we find out the pitfalls before deploying them.

We have a specialist network provisioning team who are used to dealing with the vagaries of suppliers such as BT and Openreach, so we know who to call and what to say to get things moving along.

Now, IT people like me love using analogies  to get our point across, and like all good analogies this one eventually breaks down. The next time it snows it’s unlikely to be cost effective to outsource the gritting of our roads the Finns, or get some Norwegians over to drive our cars, but the next time you are faced with a complex IT project, maybe it’s worth considering calling in the professionals.

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