Has your business IT reached the startup ceiling?
One business IT phenomenon that we come across a lot here at Clearwater is what we term the "startup ceiling". Let us take a moment to explain what we mean by this and what growing businesses can do about it.
What is the Startup Ceiling?
Starting a business - whether on your own or with like-minded individuals - can be both an exciting and nerve-wracking time and one common factor in initial decision making is try to keep startup costs as low as possible. In terms of IT this can mean directors using their personal computers, valuable data being backed up to storage designed for home use and no consistency in software versions or document control.
Although this approach can work well to minimise startup outlay it can soon start to lead to problems that can cause confusion, limit productivity or even put your fledgling business at risk of meltdown almost as soon as it has started.
For example, using different versions of Microsoft Office, Open Office or even Mac based office equivalents can mean that you end up with an unmanageable mix of key business documents that suffer the adverse effects of conversion and re-conversion and version control going out of the window altogether.
What can you do about it?
In a lot of startup businesses we speak to the role of IT Manager has fallen to an individual who has some knowledge of IT but it is not their core skillset or function within the business. This can either mean undue pressure on that individual or IT systems becoming a secondary concern in favour of daily management and revenue generation.
Before too long it will become apparent that your company IT systems need as much of a focus on strategy and planning as your manufacturing, marketing or accounting. This is where identifying a partner IT provider should become a priority.
What should you expect from an IT services provider?
An IT services provider should be able to take a fresh look at your business as a whole. A methodical approach to this assessment can quickly identify the shortcomings in your existing IT provision, including; business critical systems and data, single points of failure and inconsistent practices.
From this information a coherent and affordable IT strategy can be produced. This should not only take current business activities into consideration but also the preferences of users and future plans for growth.
As a minimum an IT strategy should cover the following areas;
- IT Budget
- Software (including licensing)
- Data Backup and Recovery
- User Support
- Scalability/Future Planning
With your IT service provider chosen and your plan in place you should feel ready to move your business into the next phase of development with the confidence that your IT provision is up to the job.