Very often, technology decisions occur because something broke, or perhaps because something has become so outdated or so difficult to manage that replacement of the offending product is the only way to avoid employee insurrection. But if your company's technology decisions are solely made during such a state of emergency, then you've been missing the boat when it comes to getting the most out of your IT investment.
This is tantamount to driving your car and making left or right turns based solely on traffic conditions and then seeing where you end up at the end of the day. Not necessarily a bad thing if you're just exploring the area, but it's not exactly a business class response focused on expense control and profitability in a competitive environment.
When I talk about taking a long term approach to IT, I'm referring to the process of taking a look at how your company works, being open to new ideas on how your company might work in the near to mid-future, and taking a hard look at the technology options that can help make beneficial transitions happen. It's about developing the long range objective and the moving towards that result in a methodical way. In many cases, it's not even necessary to make all of the changes at once. In fact, sometimes there are advantages to not making all of the changes at once.
Taking a long-term approach does a lot more than merely force you to spend some time developing an actionable strategy and researching the related options. It also helps you to avoid the pitfalls and extra costs associated with a trial-and-error approach to IT. While this is no guarantee that you won't eventually opt for different applications and platforms, a well thought-out approach will definitely increase your odds of getting the most for your money.
As you engage the discovery process, you might find that the best technology solution for your company is bigger than your current budget. Don't worry, this is not the end of the world. Your channel partner may have some helpful ideas on how the upgrades can be instituted a little bit at a time. For example, certain enabling products might be added to your network right now, with the actual applications being added to the equation in forthcoming quarters. This means that the costs associated with the full upgrade can be spread over multiple budget cycles which just might bring your ultimate technology solution firmly within reach. It's hard to talk specifics around how this works because the scenario can be very different for virtually every business out there.
This strategy also brings another benefit to the table: You may find that channel partners who are working with customers over the course of a long-haul upgrade are more attentive than partners who are merely dealing with quick, tactical projects that might or might not translate to additional work. Besides, since the partner is in the decision process from the beginning, they can usually bring more creativity to the situation as your company remains on the "front burner" for longer periods of time. This heightened level of focus can be very valuable as you and your channel partner function as a team, moving your business toward continued success.