All too often small to medium sized companies are held back by rigid and unreliable IT systems that sap valuable time and resources in maintenance, yet don’t contribute to the growth and evolution of the business itself.
Perhaps it is because many business owners and managers find technology intimidating, but IT is often regarded as a frustrating “cost centre” rather than a tool for efficiency and expansion. In addition, some business owners assume their IT system will simply “cope” as their business grows, and have to deal with the consequences when it does not.
Incorporating IT into your business planning, however, and getting advice from experts about how best to make your IT work for your business (the good ones should offer a free audit), will help you begin to reap the benefits that IT should be providing your business.
As a starting point, business owners and managers need to ask themselves the following five questions:
- Do I have adequate back-up and a suitable disaster recovery and business continuity plan in place? (You’d be amazed how many businesses don’t).
- Is my IT reliable? (99%+ uptime is standard these days).
- Does my business growth strategy and business future planning incorporate my IT system. (Businesses need to ensure that IT is there to support business growth. IT should move with the business, not after the fact).
- Can inefficiences in my business practices be improved by better IT?
- Would my business benefit from increased mobility?
There is a lot of interest in the Cloud at the moment, which certainly has many advantages to offer SMEs, however, businesses need to first ask whether their IT systems are performing at their peak before considering a move to the Cloud environment, otherwise they’ll simply be transporting pre-existing problems and inefficiency to an external environment.
Many IT service providers are also guilty of not taking a future-planning approach to IT. They are paid to fix problems, and so they do so, yet they could be so much more helpful if they took the time to understand the way their client’s business works, and advised how to improve their client's IT system and bring it in line with business goals.
Your IT system should be viewed as one of your most valuable resources. Not only should it be working smoothly for you now, but it should be flexible and adaptable enough to accommodate your future plans.
Gerard Buscombe who is the co-founder and managing director of Precision IT (www.precisionit.com.au).