Getting your IT systems right when you’re just starting out is difficult – but what happens when you’re a more established company, and you need your systems to do more than just get you up and running?
“Trial and error” is the answer for most companies – but invariably, that error comes with a price tag. The good news is, many companies see the same issues when they’re growing, so there are already some well-beaten paths to success.
We’ll walk you through what some of those issues are – and explain what you need to do to successfully weather the storm.
As your business becomes established, you begin to understand the kind of figures that represent an average daily, weekly or monthly turnover – and you’ll also be acutely aware of the cost associated with employing the people who make this happen.
The trouble is, IT can almost entirely pull the rug out from under your feet if, for a number of reasons, you’re left without your systems for any amount of time. This time without any of your crucial applications is referred to as ‘downtime’ – and downtime is expensive, as it involves you losing revenue, paying for people to sit and wait for your connection to come back – and the support you need to fix the issues.
Downtime costs the average company in excess of £100,000 for every hour without their systems – and while that average is bumped up by big multinationals, it can still represent £1,000s for smaller companies too. So, you need the right people in place to make sure it doesn’t happen – but that takes us on to our next issue (and fortunately, a good solution)…
Spiraling support costs
By now, you’ll be well aware of the costs involved with putting the necessary IT equipment into place to get your business off the ground – but what follows is often more financially painful – and continues to grow in cost when you need experts in to support with downtimes.
Supporting and troubleshooting within your IT infrastructure is often more expensive than establishing it in the first place – and it’s not until you begin to grow that you realize quite how important the right support is.
For a small to medium-sized business, the wage bill of a good IT team will often outstrip that of the company directors – which can be a bitter pill to swallow. Fortunately; there’s an option that gets you the best support at an easily digested price:
Using a managed service provider
An experienced and well established managed network provider will effectively be your IT team for a fraction of the cost of recruiting, training and employing people with the same experience in a house – what’s more, they’ll often go above and beyond what an in-house provider could offer; especially when downtime is concerned.
The thing is, an in-house team can only work as hard as they can – but a managed service provider has no option but to deliver the service level agreement you signed up to. If they guaranteed 99% uptime, then that’s what they’ll deliver.
If you’re finding that support costs are running away with you – or that downtime is hindering what your employees can do – talking to a well managed service provider might be a good painkiller for your IT headaches.
Security & Data Protection
As a small business, your devices and systems are full of – well, not much – but when you’ve been up and running for a while, you’re suddenly the custodian of one of society’s most coveted currencies; customer data.
Customer data is, in many cases, genuinely worth more than gold – and as such, there are plenty of criminals who are vying to get their hands on your precious data, with many of them doing anything they need to make it happen.
The troubling fact is, as a growing business; you’re target number one for cybercriminals. You’re unlikely to have the security that the big companies have – but equally, you’re just the right size to be holding precious data.
So, what can you do? Well, the European Union have recently put the world’s most forward-thinking and rigorous data protection policy into place for all their member states – and while that might not cover you, it does give an exceptionally detailed look at what you could be doing to make sure customer data is safe. As a current member of the EU, the UK’s Cyber Essentials guidance also offers some exceptional (and free) information on how you can secure what you hold.
There’s no magic pill that’ll see your data secure, but with a well-considered approach to hardware, software, policies and staff training, you stand a fighting chance against the latest wave of digital criminals.
An inability to scale
One of most company’s biggest IT problems isn’t about what they currently have made up their IT network or support – instead, it’s about opportunities that are being missed because they don’t have the right products to win the kind of business that will take them into the stratosphere.
Again, money can be an issue here – with an unlimited budget you can click your fingers and magic the right equipment into place – but let’s face it, that’s not going to happen.
So, in the real world, you should start embracing IT ‘as a Service.’ If that’s something you’re not aware of, it’s useful to do some reading on the concept. Essentially, ‘as a service’ is a way of buying equipment without needing the full price up front, a little like a ‘pay as you go’ mobile phone agreement – you just pay for what you need, when you need it.
So, ‘SaaS’ is Software as a Service – and IaaS is Infrastructure as a Service. There are many others – but these two represent the biggest spend for growing companies. Instead of buying expensive software or networking devices, you pay a small monthly subscription to use ‘virtual’ services that are provided by the likes of Google, Microsoft, Adobe – and other large tech providers.
As a result – you get to use the kind of software that has traditionally costs enormous amounts of money to purchase up front – but for a fraction of the price. So, next time you’re looking at an opportunity and wishing you had the equipment or software you need to make it happen – have a look and see if the ideal solution can be bought ‘as a service’ – and if it can, the potential to reach for that next big contract might be within your reach…