2020: Planning Is the Cure for Uncertainty

S. Schuchart

Summary Bullets:

  • The new year and all the changes in the world, both political and otherwise, can cause uncertainty and stress.
  • Planning can rationalize the risk and reduce stress and feelings of helplessness.

Our connected society is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it gives us the sum of human knowledge in the palms of our hands. On the other hand, it makes us hyper-aware of political, geopolitical, climate, human, and economic problems on a 24/7 basis. As IT professionals, we are affected by the challenges from the constant bombardment of the world’s problems, and it takes a toll on everyone’s decision-making processes.

Fear about hardware supplier troubles and even restrictions by nation states regarding software, such as encryption and AI, are uncertainty factors that come into play around IT purchasing decisions. But there are a few things that can be done to regain those feelings of being in control and make the right choices.

The first step enterprises should take is to understand and evaluate the risk factors and then plan for contingencies while consulting with the business on how they might possibly be challenged by delays in IT plans due to outside circumstances. Given your rollout schedules for new sites or refreshes next year, what is your exposure to hardware manufacturers’ possible supply chain troubles? The truth is, except for new sites, most hardware rollouts won’t adversely challenge the business. Software is trickier from an overall impact-on-the-business perspective, but it is not as susceptible to supply chain issues as hardware.

With that data in hand, now is time to have a real talk with your vendors and other IT suppliers about the possibility of disruption. Do not accept hand-waving and an “I’m sure it won’t come to that” attitude. Push them. Most vendors and their partners have already analyzed this possibility. After all, it could have an effect on their sales, so you’d better believe they’ve studied this. Getting past your account manager or convincing them to take the request seriously will take some effort, but it is worth it. Once you have all sides of the issue, including the business impact of delays, the vendor’s best estimates of the likelihood of disruption, and what they intend to do about it, you can set up contingency plans and show them to the business.

This may all seem like a lot of work and effort for events you cannot control and which have a reasonably small chance of occurring. But you will sleep a lot better at night with a plan, and should a delay occur, you are covered. No one will be able to accuse you of failure to plan for contingencies. The last bit of advice for when you’ve finished your planning: only worry about what you can control.

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