Our very good friends at the Business Examiner have the March article unlocked and ready for you to enjoy. An excerpt is below… for the whole thing be sure to click through and let them know what you think. Thank you.

“Zen and the Art of Systems Maintenance” – Business Examiner (March 19, 2012)

by David Leonhardt

Several years ago, while on a motorcycle trip on Vancouver Island, my failure to plan ahead left me facing an eight-hour journey with only six hours on the clock.
Ferry boats don’t wait. So, if I was to make it back in time for work on Monday, something had to give.

Leaving earlier wasn’t an option. I was out of gas and the only station for 50 miles didn’t open until 7 a.m. After the obligatory morning fill up, I zoomed out of town heading east. During the race across the island, I happened across a small truck towing a trailer and, without hesitating, I downshifted and blasted past — doing my best impersonation of Valentino Rossi on the front straightaway at the Hockenheimring. Aside from the occasional swerve to avoid wildlife, things were uneventful until I missed a downshift in an S-turn and wound up high-siding over the bike and finishing with a Nestea plunge into a swamp.

After scrambling ashore and collecting the bike. I sat down on a nearby boulder to contemplate my next steps. Sure enough, shortly thereafter, I heard a putt-putt-putt and then watched the driver of that same small truck and trailer chuckle as he drove on by. Despite the queasy stomach I managed to reach Zen by following the Madagascar penguin mantra: “Smile and wave, boys, smile and wave!”

That same unease ran through my stomach recently as I listened to the information technology manager for one of our clients describe projects he was tackling during the upcoming year. His thought was to save a bundle of money by replacing all of his vendor-supplied software with a new homegrown application.

In all fairness, the queasy feeling didn’t start until he mentioned that while they hadn’t had the time to complete a detailed design, he was pretty confident in his team — and thought they could pull it off without wasting too much time planning.
Ouch.

The future is yet to be written, so we’ll see how that project turns out. But it reminded me that systems projects, both large and small, always benefit from a touch of Zen — and a hefty portion of planning.

Harkening back to my time on the boulder, I recalled the lesson I learned. No, not the classic tortoise and the hare — and no, definitely not verifying positive gear lock before releasing the clutch. The big lesson was the not-so-gentle reminder that planning ahead and being patient can help avoid unplanned swamp immersions.

When it comes to managing your technology, swamps show up as day-long e-mail interruptions, crashed file servers with no recent backup, sudden disappearance of your accounting data or, in some cases, the afternoon Internet Service Provider migration that turned into a week-long ordeal.

The way to avoid these unexpected marsh visits is to have short-, medium- and long-term plans for your technology.

I know, you’re far too busy running your business to spend time worrying about technology. And that mindset will work great — until someday it doesn’t.

On that day you will be kicking the walls and mumbling phrases like “how could I have …” and “if only I had …” or, if things are really bad, “I wonder if this window opens.”

In an attempt to save you some stubbed toes, let’s lay out a quick set of exercises to help you frame your thinking on the issues.

Your job is to put some thoughts together to answer the questions below — and then use that information to meet for an hour with your IT Guy to get your technology roadmap in place for the coming year….

… read the rest on the Business Examiner website