It's been a while since I posted anything; 6 months in fact. It's not a case of having nothing to write about, far from it. I've just been very busy, plus I've been a bit more active in other areas.
One thing that I thought would be appropriate to point out is a Microsoft resource at: http://www.microsoft.com/uk/business/peopleready/technology/ioassessment/osyci/survey.mspx
This allows you to take a "survey" that can give you an indication of the status of your IT provision. I first came across this a while back and I found it very useful as part of the planning process. In order for you to reach a particular destination, it helps to know where you are starting from, so you can use the right directions.
Essentially, Microsoft suggest that IT departments can be classified into one of 4 levels based upon standard practice. Five years ago, we would have definitely been classed as being at the lowest level, "reactive". The IT provision was based around fixing problems after they occurred and very little thought went into planning or preparation.
We've slowly moved through the various stages, going from "standardised" to "rationalised", and are now pretty much at the top level, "strategic". There are still a few areas that we could improve upon, but that will always be the case. However, the IT is now a solid platform that people can use. We don't get the network failures, system crashes, or data losses that used to occur. Resources are there and available 24 x 365 for people to use, and generally they can access them using whatever device is appropriate.
Now although this all sounds great, there is unfortunately a fly in the ointment. The biggest problem is still the unit that is positioned between the chair and keyboard! It has been identified that we need to get people better trained, but somehow that never seems to get translated into action. Once of the worst instances was of a person that had been with the company for some 8 years. Unable to logon, the person phoned the helpdesk to ask what her user name was! (She normally didn't have to type that in, as it just appeared in the login box.)
I would encourage everyone to take a look at the Microsoft Core Infrastructure Optimisation resource. I think that you'll find it of significant value and help.