When your network is running smoothly, it is like a well-oiled machine. Individuals only see the completed machine. They do not see the planning, project management and design that went into creating that machine. The same can be said for a properly operating network. Proper planning for the network ahead of time is essential for successful network implementation in the workplace.
The following information should be considered a ‘blueprint’ to planning, installing and implementing a new network.
The Core Processes
The majority of network experts recommend dividing these processes into five phases. These phases are:
- Assess your need for a network and justify the need as well as the requirement
- Develop a plan for the network
- Implement the plan
- Keep space in the plan for expansions or extensions
- Plan for after installation technical support
Justify and Assess the Need
Before you begin the planning process for a new network, it is pertinent to not only receive approval from management, but you will also need assistance with funding, additional manpower and enough time to complete the project.
Some of the resources you receive may require that work with less money, less manpower and less time than you anticipated. When seeking monetary assistance with this type of project, you must not only justify the reason for the network, you must convince upper management that the advantages of installing the network outweigh the costs.
To do this, be prepared to demonstrate that any ROI (return on investment) is larger than the initial investment.
Develop a Plan
To begin planning the network, you will need to look at your needs and determine what technologies are currently available that can provide you with the solution you are looking for. You will need to find the technologies while also keeping in mind any restraints that you are working with.
Draw a Map
As you make the selections for the hardware you need, you may need to adjust the basic model you have for your network. This can be done by drawing a revised map of the network. The map will serve as your architectural plan so you will know how the network should be laid out.
Always keep the map updated even during the installation. It will serve as your official documentation and can be used when future troubleshooting is required.
Once you have your diagrams and maps in place, the next step will be to begin putting the plan in action. However, you will need to consider some factors first:
- Schedule the installation of the pieces of equipment for the network
- Test the procedure to make sure all parts are working correctly
- Create an alternate plan
- Weigh the decision to complete installation during non-business hours
- Have a list of technical support contacts ready
- Be prepared for issues to arise
Expansions and Technical Support
The last two steps include anticipating going beyond a LAN (local area network) to a WAN (wide area network). This may be a necessity if your company is considering going beyond a local area network.
Also, be prepared to speak with qualified technical support advisor for specific vendors. Tell them about the problem, when it occurred and mention any modifications made to the hardware.
Unless you are experienced with working with networks, it may be best to hire a qualified professional. Experienced network consultants can deliver what you are looking for in a network.