As December winds down and we start to hit the holiday season, you’ll be cranking up on that workload, and very soon your boss is going to be asking you about the projects you want to take on in 2013. With that in mind, here are 13 IT projects for 2013 that you should start planning for now. You can pick and choose the ones you like best, reuse my write-ups as you see fit, or even just forward the entire list to your boss. Whichever way you’d like to use this, get a jump on things for 2013:
- Patch management
Make 2013 the year you finally get patch management perfect, covering servers and workstations, operating systems and third party applications and being able to report on status and push updates as needed. Patching will always be critical, but that doesn’t mean it has to be painful, and a good patch management solution should be at the top of everyone’s list.
- BYOD and MDM
BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is one of those inevitable things that you can either get on board with, or get rolled over by. Tablets, smartphones, convertibles and other mobile devices are all growing in popularity, and if your users want to spend their own money on devices to make them more productive, who are you to object? You want them secure and manageable, and having good policies and MDM (Mobile Device Management) solutions in place are the first key steps towards making BYOD good for all concerned.
- User provisioning
When HR hires a new employee, how long does it take to get them fully provisioned into your systems? How much longer does it take to deprovision someone when you get that email from HR at 16:59 on a Friday afternoon? 2013 should be the year where you can quickly and easily provision a new employee across all of your systems, and should the need arise, disable their access in one click, rather than an hour’s long fire drill.
- Multifactor authentication
It’s just too easy to figure out people’s passwords and to convince them to give you their password… Single factor authentication is just not enough. Whether you use smart cards, tokens, or biometrics, it’s high time you implement two-factor authentication for access to your critical systems.
Operating systems, Office suites, firewalls, switches, Wi-Fi devices, storage area networks, servers and workstations…the list of things that will need upgrading in 2013 may be significant. Start thinking about the upgrades you want to do now so you can get them budgeted for 2013, or you may still have to support products that span a decade or more.
Ask yourself this question, and be honest with your answer: Are you satisfied with your current antivirus software? If not, do you really want to spend yet another year dealing with all its flaws? Make this year the year you finally throw out that product you hate and implement antivirus software that actually works.
- Spam filtering
Spam volumes continue to rise and Outlook’s junk e-mail filters just aren’t enough anymore. 2013 can be the year you finally get hold of spam by implementing spam filtering. Whether you deploy something on-premises or in the cloud, blocking spam, phishing and malware-infected messages before they get to your users is something everyone will appreciate.
- Email archiving
2013 may also be the year you get your first discovery order. Email archiving can make compliance and legal discovery a breeze to complete, so consider email archiving as an important project for 2013.
Encryption can relate to a lot of different things, depending on your perspective. Consider all of them. Encrypting email communications, laptop hard drives, USB storage, data at rest, network connections between clients and servers, and everywhere else you can implement encryption should all be on the short list for things to accomplish in 2013. Should an incident occur, you really don’t want to have to answer the question “why wasn’t it encrypted?”
- Security scanning
You need only to look at your firewall logs to know that your network is scanned every day by attackers looking for a way in. Security scanning is the easiest and most effective way to quickly identify the same vulnerabilities that the bad guys will attempt to exploit, and automated security scanning will help you to find and remediate those vulnerabilities quickly. Security scanning should be a part of every network, and if it is not a part of yours, make 2013 the year you fix that.
- Server consolidation
Doing more with less is fact of life these days, and server consolidation can help you reduce costs associated with hardware, maintenance, power, space and more. Whether you configure physical boxes to handle more tasks, or take a P2V approach and virtualize everything you can, server consolidation is a project that will take a lot of time, but can save even more money.
- Test lab
The world’s most interesting man may test his code in production, but you know better, and that’s probably why it takes so long to patch things or update configurations, or even remediate security vulnerabilities. Getting a test lab up will not only provide you with a safe place to test patches and changes before production, but it will also save you many late nights and even give you a safe place to practice new skills.
- Managed services
Budgets are getting cut, but that doesn’t stop the business from wanting more and more features from technology. There are lots of things out there that you can do, but cannot do well with your current staffing and budget. Managed service providers may be able to provide you significantly advanced services for a fraction of what it would cost you to do it yourself, and it’s clear that the market is moving towards this model. 2013 should be the year where you look at all the things your IT team does, and see if there are any opportunities to sub out the things you don’t want to do or can’t afford to do to someone who can. Whether that is security services, monitoring, help desk, VoIP, email, or other technology, outsourcing doesn’t mean losing jobs – it can mean saving money which can be used to preserve jobs.
With these 13 points for ’13, you have lots of room to improve your network, reduce your headaches, and grow your skillsets. Whether you pick one, two, eight, or all thirteen to submit to your boss, each one of these is a project you can lead that has nothing but an upside for your entire company. Having an idea now on what you want to work on not only will make it easy for you to respond to your boss’ request, but primes you to pitch it at a moment’s notice, like in the next staff meeting or elevator ride with the CIO. Make the unwritten project 14 getting you that raise or promotion you deserve!