It's not uncommon following the release of a new application or business tool for there to be a period of calm before mass adoption. Normally this can be attributed to budgeting constraints, the wish to study industry reviews or even to wait for teething problems to be resolved. Whatever the reason it might be wise for businesses to take note of a well known proverb:

"The plans of the diligent lead to profit, as surely as haste leads to poverty".

This is particularly relevant given the recent release of Windows 7. It's tempting to think that, as many companies are looking to delay migration for at least a year that it's not something to worry about today. However, with analysts such as Gartner stating that most organisations will need at least 12-18 months to prepare, businesses need to start planning their roll out now; otherwise face costly delays.

Even the most successful organisation will find the smallest glitch can cause a project to over run, losing the company a substantial amount of time and money. For this reason it is crucial not to underestimate the preparation required to migrate to Windows 7. Instead companies looking to adopt the new operating system should start the planning process as soon as possible to avoid unnecessary delays and costs.

A major concern is the legacy infrastructure, which can cause critical compatibility issues due to its age and resulting complexity and results in the need for automatic methods to migrate and manage an operating system. At a time of reduced IT headcount, and increased pressure to reduce costs, many businesses can be unprepared for this bottleneck and unsure of how to proceed.

However, any IT manager feeling overwhelmed by such a project need not worry. There are tools readily available that can quickly, easily and reliably automate the entire process, reducing the operating costs of the infrastructure as well as the burden on the IT department dramatically. Additionally, there are four key steps that every business looking to adopt Windows 7 need to take to ensure a successful migration:

1. Planning - build a team of stakeholders, with executive sponsorship, who will own the process of scoping and managing the roll-out project. This team will draw information from other departments within the business to ensure the new operating system with satisfy the needs of the eventual users.

2. Discovery - vital to completing any roll-out on-time and on-budget is the ability to see exactly what IT assets (both hardware and software) are already on the corporate network. Audit information provided by discovery tools can then be used to determine new hardware requirements and potential compatibility issues.

3. Deployment - rolling out any new software across the entire network is a major undertaking, let alone upgrading to a new Operating System (OS). Automated deployment tools can accelerate the process of packaging, testing and deploying the OS to target machines across the enterprise.

4. Management - as with any new software, post-deployment management is critical to overall success, as it is likely that patches and hotfixes will need to be deployed swiftly across the network. It is also important to ensure that PCs remain compliant with established policies (such as software configuration).

As many organisations continue to struggle with a reduced headcount and cut backs, tools designed to aid system migrations will become all the more crucial. These businesses will undoubtedly look to Windows 7 to gain competitive advantage. However, by not following these initial steps, the process will become complex, time consuming and ultimately very expensive.

About the author:

By Matt Fisher is Director at FrontRange Solutions, a CRM and IT Service management services