Five steps to deploying wireless LANs

WLAN installations offer companies a way to improve their business operations and increase revenues. Approaching a WLAN deployment in steps or phases can help make this process faster and more efficient. The best way to add wireless connectivity is to start small and plan with an eye toward expansion.


Step 4: Provide user training

Tasks: Train participants and gather data.

Train: Set up a training session for the participants. Make it easy and mandatory for users to get training on their new systems, preferably at the same time they receive their wireless-enabled notebook PCs. Set appropriate user expectations for support and how they should request it. Then train participants to actually call, report, and get help.

Gather data: Gather user feedback from the beginning of the pilot. This can be even more important than technical feedback. Consider an informal system in which IT personnel roam the wireless zones for immediate input from users. You might also schedule interviews or drop-in lunch meetings to gather comments and reactions.

Collect intermediate metrics for ROI reporting and address technical issues as needed during the pilot.

Make sure to closely monitor the WLAN access and be prepared to react quickly to seal security leaks or handle other problems.

Step 5: Initiate an audit program and broaden wireless LAN

Tasks: Evaluate the pilot and broaden WLAN reach.

Evaluation: Gather and report findings and ROI values.

Review ways you can improve systems to meet needs that the pilot didn’t address, such as additional access points, smoother setup, or user support. Report the findings to stakeholders to get approval for broader deployments. And communicate outcomes to all your pilot users because they need to know what became of their efforts to help.

Broaden WLAN reach: With an eye to the larger organization, return to Step 1 and reassess the questions and decisions you made for the pilot in light of scaling the WLAN to include more zones. Decide whether to deploy wireless across the entire network, or expand it selectively to serve the next level of mobile user needs. Standardize security access across the site no matter how large the WLAN gets so users won’t run into lockout problems as they roam.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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