Purchasing, integrating and implementing a new network solution for your IT team can be stressful.  In fact, it can be so stressful that IT team often choose to stay with a product that’s working “okay” rather than overhauling their entire system with a product that “might” increase network performance.

When faced with the decision to either continue using an “okay” network tool or implement a new one it is important to begin with the end in mind.  How will the outcome of whichever decision you make affect your IT team in the long run?  Take a look at the possible pros and cons of the decision you are trying to make.  However time consuming and stressful it may be to select purchase and implement your new product, ensure that the ends will justify the means.  It can be worth it to invest your time and energy into a new product project rather than put up with a tool that isn’t preforming as well as others in the market.  You want the best software for your team, a tool that will make your lives simpler, regardless of the time and energy it will take to implement it.

You know your team better than anyone.  What their strengths and weaknesses are.  But you also know your network better than anyone too, its strengths and its weaknesses.  Finding the perfect network solution for not only your team but also your network can look like a challenge.  How do I stay in budget? How do I choose a product that will be the most effective within my team?  While these questions are valid, this is not the right approach to this endeavor.  Rather than thinking of this process as a challenge, think of it as an opportunity.  You have the power to select any network solution you want, and the power to choose the one that fits into your team the best.  Don’t think of it as a time and energy consuming project, think of it as an opportunity to optimize your team’s performance, ultimately increase productivity, and optimize your network.

So, you’ve realized that you need to select a new product for your team, what’s the next step? Make a wishlist.  What would your dream product do? What features would it have? How much would it cost in a perfect world?  Share this wishlist with your team.  What’s on their wishlist? You may be surprised about what they say.  George may prioritize network mapping, while Trisha thinks that her workload may decrease significantly with better event reporting.  Phil may think that both of those capabilities are crucial, however his focus may be on how to use this tool to provide a better service for your clients.  Regardless of what features would be plausible for a network solution like this, it’s important for your team to feel like their voices have been heard, and that their opinion matters.  Whichever tool you end up with, the way your team functioned before will be forever changed.  Make sure they have a voice.

Due to digital transformation serge, the market for network solutions is packed full of tools that will make your IT team’s jobs easier.  But which one should you choose? This task can seem incredibly daunting but is essential that you choose the most effect tool that will benefit your team the most.  So, what should you consider when researching potential products?

  • What are it’s features and how do they fit into you and your team’s wishlist?
  • What do the reviews about the product saying?
  • How long is the trial?
  • What is the support system like?

You have a general idea of what you’re looking for, so do not settle for anything less than that.  How will the product features fit into your team? Is it what everyone wants, is it what everyone needs?  Think of this process as a hiring process for a new team member, you want the candidate that will work best with your team.  What are the reviews saying about this product, and what kind of reviews are they?  All paid can be suspicious, so you better do some research on case studies for that solutionl.  Try and find one that is similar to your organization and mission.  Trying out a tool is like test driving a car, you wouldn’t buy one straight off the lot, and you certainly would not buy the first one you drove.  Make sure that you test out multiple solution so that you can find the most effective product. One important aspect of the decision process that can be easily overlooked is the support system behind the product.  Worst case scenario something goes wrong, and you need to find a solution fast.  A tool with a large support system behind it looks a lot better than a tool with only an online forum behind it.  We know you’re an expert, but it is comforting to know you have a support team in your corner to help you whenever you may need it.

Okay, so you’ve gone through the stages to purchase a new network product for your team, now what?  There are steps you can take to ensure that your team has the deepest understanding of how this product works, and how it’s going to work within your organization.  The first steps you can take is understanding your team’s background and familiarity with change.  Gather details from everyone, perhaps create a quick survey for them to fill out.

Ask:

  • Have you ever had any experience integrating a new product into a team?
  • What are your concerns about this new implementation?
  • In what ways do you want your team to work after this product is integrated?
  • What are your long term and short-term goals?

The goal for this exercise is to understand everyone’s background, concerns, and what the best way forward is with a new integration.  Start by asking if your, has ever done this before?  Phil may have a lot of experience with new solutions, seeing that he has been on the team for a while.  George may have done similar integrations at his previous company.  Phil and George seem like they are good to go, however their newest team member Trisha may not have had any experience with integrating new products in the work place.  It is important to understand your entire team’s experience with new product integration, that way anxieties about how it will work are discussed and resolved.  Take time to talk to all team members about how they feel with the new product integration.  Think of it this way, you want your team to preform effectively, which is probably why you have chosen this new product.  Why wouldn’t you want to implement this new technology in the most effective way possible? Open communication is key among team members, it is part of what makes an effective team effective, and it should be no different when interacting a new product.  As a leader, it is your role to foster the communication lines.  Take time to understand your team’s hesitations, concerns, and goals.

Training will be a major part of your product integration.  As a leader you should have a good sense as to how members of your team comprehend information and preform tasks.  Be mindful of this throughout the training.  Trisha may be a fast learner and may be able to understand the new tool and use it quickly.  George may have used this product or something similar at his previous company.  However, Phil may be struggling to understand how it works and fits into the team.  Taking the extra time to thoroughly ensure everyone is on the same page is not a waste of time, rather an assurance of understanding.  We understand that you’re busy with tasks that need doing and a network that needs monitoring, however this is an essential step in new solution integration.

Its easy enough to install a new software on your servers, however it is not as easy integrating it into your team’s routine and work life.  There will be hiccups, and that’s okay. Maintaining a constant line of communication is a way to ensure that these minor hiccups do not turn into anything major.  Stopping in to make sure everyone is doing okay is a great way to get a sense of how your team is doing with the new integration. Take advantage of training portals and knowledge bases from your product’s creators.  There will be relevant information for you to learn on optimizing the most out of your product.  Take time to reach out to your account managers, they will have useful information for you as well such as new features, patch updates and optimization.

These tools were created for you, the IT professional.  These products were designed for teams just like yours.  Take the opportunity to choose the best tool for your team, and then take the time to onboard this product just as you would a new hire.  Learn it’s potential and expand your productivity.  These network tools are designed to make your life easier, so let it.

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