When it comes to planning ahead for IT, it’s all too common for small business owners to take a ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ attitude. In other words, there’s no strategy in place, no rolling plan for upgrading and replacing equipment and software – and, unfortunately, probably no budget either!
This might not sound like a big problem if you have a small and relatively simple IT infrastructure. But with the best will in the world, once computers and other hardware start to age, they’ll also start to hamper your productivity and efficiency. Worse still, they could fail without warning, leaving you with the unexpected cost of buying a new device, as the old one waved goodbye to the manufacturer’s warranty several years ago.
There are other issues to consider, too, such as software reaching ‘end of life’ and becoming unsupported. This leaves your business open to all kinds of cyber threats and other risks such as non-compliance with the dreaded GDPR. And if you keep running older versions of operating systems and applications such as Office, you could find that these become incompatible with, or are no longer supported by other software vendors such as Sage. Now, we don’t want to sound like finger-waggers or scaremongers. So that’s enough of the bad stuff. Let’s turn the tables and take a look at why it’s a brilliant idea to have a robust and fully-costed IT strategy in place for the short, medium and longer term.
1. You can review your needs versus your current set-up
The first stage of putting an IT strategy in place is reviewing what you’ve got at the moment. That means assessing the hardware and software you’re using and how well these meet your business needs. You’ll almost certainly spot a few areas that need attention straight away, such as a PC that keeps crashing or devices that can’t ‘talk to each other’ because they’re running different operating systems.
At the same time, you’ll have the chance to iron out any areas of duplication or waste. For example, are you paying for software licences you don’t need? Is there an ancient printer sat in the corner gathering dust, for which you’re still paying a monthly fee? Or are your team using several applications to carry out the same task, such as different email or instant chat platforms?
Resolving these issues will form the short-term part of your IT strategy and will help you save money and boost operational efficiency straightway. You can then create the medium and longer-term aspects of your strategy based around priorities, budgets and future business needs, such as expansion or relocation plans.
2. You’ll keep control of your costs
It stands to reason that, by planning ahead for upgrading and replacing your IT systems, you’ll be less likely to have your bank account emptied at the drop of a hat. Your systems will be newer, so they’ll need less maintenance and fewer repairs. And if anything does go wrong, you can call on the good old manufacturer’s guarantee to sort most things out.
You’ll also benefit from reduced downtime due to unexpected breakdowns, helping keep your productivity (and your profit margins) on an even keel. And, strange as it might sound, you could even save money by investing in new equipment. If you lease a printer/copier, for example, a recent fall in technology costs means you could end up with a superior – and more reliable – machine at a lower monthly cost. What’s not to like?
3. You’ll benefit from the latest technology
Having the latest hardware and software in place could give you a serious advantage over your competitors. It’s a fact that many people love having access to the latest technology.
Investing in it could help you win and retain more customers, as well as boosting your bottom line by helping you process orders or provide services more quickly and efficiently than other businesses.
By implementing an IT strategy and monitoring the marketplace, you can plan and budget for investing in new products that will benefit your business and give you that all-important competitive edge.
4. It can help engage your staff with your business
This is an important part of your IT strategy. After all, if you don’t fully understand what your team need to do their jobs, how can you identify the right software and hardware to invest in? So talk to your staff. Find out their likes and dislikes and, where possible, factor these into your plan.
It’s also important to reiterate that everyone in the business has a role to play when it comes to effective IT management. For example, by adhering to your Computer Use Policy and using equipment and software correctly, to help prevent unnecessary spend.
Not sure where to start with IT strategy? RoundWorks to the rescue!
We appreciate you might feel uncomfortable with putting an IT strategy in place. Or you might simply lack the time or resources. RoundWorks IT is here to help. Our experienced team will audit your existing IT infrastructure and assess the changes that need to be made so it better meets your current needs, and keeps doing so in the future.
Get in touch today to discuss your requirements or book and appointment with one of our friendly, fully-trained engineers. We hope to hear from you soon!