Network Planning: How to Start

Before you begin any networking project, whether it’s a new network installation or an upgrade, you should first make a detailed plan. If you make technical decisions too quickly, before studying all the issues that affect the project, you’ll regret it. You’ll discover too late that a key application won’t run over the network, that the network has unacceptably slow performance, or that key components don’t work together.

Here are some general thoughts to keep in mind while you create your network plan:

  • Don’t rush the plan. The most costly networking mistakes are the ones that you make before you install the network. Think things through and consider alternatives.

  • Write down the network plan. The plan doesn’t have to be a fancy, 500-page document. If you want to make it look good, pick up a 1/2-inch three-ring binder. This binder will be big enough to hold your network plan with room to spare.

  • Ask someone else to read your network plan before you buy anything. Preferably, ask someone who knows more about computers than you do.

  • Keep the plan up to date. If you add to the network, dig up the plan, dust it off, and update it.

“The best laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley, and leave us naught but grief and pain for promised joy.” Robert Burns lived a few hundred years before computer networks, but his famous words ring true. A network plan isn’t chiseled in stone. If you discover that something doesn’t work the way you thought it would, that’s okay. Just change your plan.