4 Starter Steps to Improve Your Small Business Through IT
Historically, IT doesn’t have the best reputation for “enhancing business.” We can all admit that when it comes to our busy lives, we want/need IT to just work. When you’re knocking out emails, giving remote presentations, running reports, holding operations meetings … the last thing you want to deal with is email issues, slow internet, complaints about the IT guy or a computer virus.
But what if IT isn’t working or enhancing business? And how do you know? And does IT really have to be so complicated? If you’re like most small business owners we’ve met, time is not on your side. So trying to answer those three seemingly basic questions can actually become quite a nuisance for anyone with limited IT knowledge and very little time.
With aging hardware, a lackluster IT department and a limited IT budget — or any combination of those factors — it can be daunting to think about how to get started. As the technology environment around us becomes more sophisticated and security breaches hit closer to home, small business leaders can’t afford to become stagnate. Some will thrive, others may just adapt. But the good news is that transforming your business so that it is aligned with IT and scales with technology changes is not an “all-or-nothing” endeavor. We thought we’d share with you some steps that I’ve seen other business leaders take as they set out to pass “Go.”
1. Keep a scorecard.
As a business leader, you’re probably not up at night thinking about the intricacies of your network infrastructure. But certainly there are other ways you can be keeping tabs on whether IT is actually working for business. Make a checklist of the top 5 to 10 priorities that are important to you. Very few business leaders have thought to keep a scorecard of their IT performance. A scorecard that is tailored to your priorities can help you measure variables such as “Am I spending too much on server hardware?” “Am I meeting compliance standards?” and “Is all employee and corporate data secure?” and ultimately provide you with a snapshot of the health of your IT infrastructure. If you’re not sure which questions to start with, take a look at these 5 questions to get going in the right direction.
2. Champion your company’s move to the cloud.
There are many SMB executives out there who are championing their company’s move to the cloud to increase profits and productivity, lower unnecessary expenses, and reduce risks. If you’re not already there, chances are you haven’t done much research into the productivity and cost benefits of moving (at least part of your infrastructure) to the cloud. They’re flat out undeniable and the internet is saturated with reputable research on the topic. Reduced labor costs, lower energy costs and easier collaboration between departments or branches to a name a few.
3. If you’re not already outsourcing, start your research now.
More and more companies are relying on external IT service providers who prove their depth in technical expertise and experience in aligning business goals with technology. The stigma that was once associated with outsourcing has dissipated over the years as strong IT firms prove their value in bringing technical expertise and business savvy to smaller businesses that could not afford it otherwise. Managed IT Services are transitioning from a “nice-to-have” to a “must-have” for SMB leaders looking to cut IT costs, protect data and position themselves for the long-term. Options like Managed IT Services and Infrastructure-as-a-Service are now giving businesses an affordable and scalable solution that allows them to focus on their core business without worrying about day-to-day IT roadblocks.
4. Benchmark: Talk to other business leaders who’ve paved the way.
Others have done their due diligence and are now reaping the rewards – you can learn from them. Consider reaching out to other executives in your LinkedIn groups, Chamber associations, office building or other business networking environments to learn how they have prioritized IT solutions to help drive business. I’d recommend talking to other leaders of companies that match your size and industry.With more than two decades of experience, the iCorps IT consulting team is dedicated to delivering excellence to our customers by staying ahead of market trends and understanding new technologies that could impact their business. iCorps delivers superior IT outsourcing, IT support and technology solutions implemented by the best consultants in the Boston, Philadelphia and New York (NY) areas.