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My company has asked our department for a five year plan. This is hard for us to conceive since we are a smallish shop and mostly reactionary to peoples needs. Does anyone have any advise for creating a plan such as this?

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This is an interesting question. However, I'm not sure if this is the best place to have this discussion. There is no real answer to this. –  Nixphoe Aug 14 '11 at 23:45
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Yes, comerade. In soviet IT the 5 year plan plans you. –  Wyatt Barnett Aug 15 '11 at 0:13
    
You guys disappoint me every time a question like this is closed. The question may need some fleshing out, true. But closing it as "not constructive"? Closing it is not constructive! –  CesarGon Aug 15 '11 at 0:25
    
@CesarGon, just like some stuff doesn't belong on stack overflow, and get sent to programmers, some things don't belong on serverfault. The question is interesting, but doesn't belong here, and as currently worded isn't really a good Q&A style question. –  Zoredache Aug 15 '11 at 0:39
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@CesarGon: The question is a good one, insomuch as it is important and useful to be answered. The problem with it is that it "will likely solicit opinion, debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion" -- the very definition of "Not Constructive". I'd love to have a conversation about this topic, but this site is not the right place to have it. –  womble Aug 15 '11 at 0:55
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closed as not constructive by Shane Madden, Wesley, pauska, womble, gravyface Aug 15 '11 at 0:23

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

3 Answers

As someone else had stated, you would need to know a bit about the business and where the business is supposed to be in five years to know what to do with the business's 5-year objectives.

You also said you were reactionary...unless you're planning on fixing that, your five year plan will be pretty much what you're doing now, except with more frequent and worse headaches, if the business is growing.

If I were asked to do this for a small company I think I'd start by sitting down and evaluating where I was. What is my backup status? How are alerts handled? Downtime? Server rollouts? You don't mention what the business is...how reliant are you on (web server, database server, mail server...)? Does downtime cost money?

Next I'd start addressing each bullet point by point. How will I start automating rollouts of updates? Monitor systems for outages? Notify sysadmins of issues? Virus updates? New workstations to users? etc. and then come up with a reasonable cost estimate and timeline of how each of these points would be addressed.

Along with this would be recovery plans and protection of data, right down to getting the data center arranged neatly with labels and testing power on a routine basis (UPS capacity, not overloading circuits, etc.) And everything would have to be documented.

Now is this plan just for someone's shelves or does it actually affect budgeting in some way? Will you get support when you say you need a new server for redundancy, or a staging server for testing updates, etc? Training and conference costs for your team?

That's just how I would approach it. If it's going to be something for someone's shelf I don't know how much time I'd invest in worrying over the details, as just about any plan beyond a year is too far to know for sure what will happen. If there's a chance that this will mean someone will help support you in getting your infrastructure in shape then by all means pour a lot of thought into it and keep it up to date as things change, with updates on your timelines and goals. Start treating your data systems as if you were dealing with a large farm of servers so that if your business does grow you'll be ready for it instead of continuing to try beating down brushfires.

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Thank you, I now have a direction to go. –  MasterOfNothing Aug 17 '11 at 2:28
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A starting point in order for IT to properly serve and support the business for the next 5 years would be to understand the 5 year business objectives.

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I suggest you take your growth rate in consideration after which you set get your business needs.

Make sure that you have your objectives clearly stated.

Then start designing your IT infrastructure, make sure :

  • scalable
  • easy to maintain
  • open for expansion
  • decide your software (existing ,custom fit or custom made)

Make different plans taking different scenario's into consideration. Show them to your management and let them decide what they see to be fit. Clearly state your preferences towards them ( after all you will need to build it ;) )

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