You know your industry like the back of your hand but worry about making the wrong choice when it comes to technology. The truth is, business owners don’t need a technical background to make the “big picture” decisions that strategically guide the company’s use of IT. Instead, you need a strong understanding of your operations. Here’s how you can start creating a robust IT framework that supports your long-term goals.
Identify Critical Systems and Data
The definitions for critical systems and data are not one-size-fits-all. Answers will vary by company and industry and will evolve as your business changes.
What is a Critical System?
Identify the systems that would cause the most pain if they were not available – the ones you and your employees don’t even want to think about living without. You don’t need to know exactly how the machine or application works to identify what is and is not vital for your business to succeed on a daily or hourly basis.
How Much Backup Data is Essential?
Different businesses will have different answers. Data from two days ago may suffice for one business but spell disaster for another.
Here are two different business cases on how much backup data is vital:
Business case 1: If a transaction-based company had their server offline and backup ability was lost for 1-2 hours, that is a major issue. One hour of lost data, in this business model may lead to a lot of lost revenue.
Business case 2: If a public relations firm has a server go down for an hour, or even four hours, they may be able to tolerate older backups and longer downtime. When the business model is mostly client interaction either in person or by phone the effects of data loss are less painful.
Word to the Wise:
You could say you never want to lose any data, and that is almost possible.
It’s also ridiculously expensive.
You need to find the practical answer that doesn’t destroy your budget or your operations.
Audit How Your Company Uses Technology
To do this properly, you need to get in the weeds, study workflows and talk to the people using technology.
What Are the Pain Points?
You’d be surprised what you might learn by asking some pretty simple questions of your team. Go to the different departments at your company and speak to some employees. Ask them what they use the technology to do, how it works, what frustrates them, etc. This will give you an accurate understanding of which systems they use, what customers complain about, and anything that can be improved.
Is There a Better Way?
As you listen to employees, you might find that communication and security are issues. No matter what the problem is, you need to be willing to consider alternatives, like new workflows or transition to the cloud.
Reassess Your Resources
After gathering input from your team, take a comprehensive view of the situation. Before making changes, think about how people will react to change and if there are any budgetary constraints. If you’re considering new services, factor in time that might be needed for employee training. New software, hardware or processes aren’t worthwhile if people use it incorrectly.
Word to the Wise:
Too many businesses start with technology solutions and go looking for business problems to solve. What they should do is start with the business issues and then seek to resolve them with technology.
What Kind of Support Do You Need?
Start with an evaluation of current in-house or external providers. Be honest. If you’re thinking “I have a guy I hired years ago and like him, but can’t tell if he is doing a good job because I don’t know IT,” you might consider bringing in an IT consultant to determine how well your technology has been implemented.
There are multiple factors to consider when considering your IT management. You can have an internal team or have your IT fully managed by a managed service provider (MSP). There is a newer IT management style some companies are adopting called co-managed IT and this is a hybrid approach of internal IT coupled with managed IT. The configuration of co-managed varies based on your industry and IT needs.
if you need help determining what support you need or the best approach to take for your IT management needs, then reach out to Spectrum, your local, Indianapolis-area managed IT provider. We can share with you the expert IT strategy, service and support other local businesses receive from Spectrum Technology, get in touch with us at 317.596.3650 or online.
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