When you’re starting out in business, IT has the potential to be either a sore subject that simply represents significant costs – or something, if used correctly, that can help your business fly.
It’s easy to say that it’s simply your attitude toward IT that dictates the outcome – but it’s not. IT can be costly, time consuming – and require a significant number of people to get right. It’s only when you start to find manageable ways around these problems that IT can really work for you.
So, that’s exactly what we’ll explore here – how you can make sure IT isn’t just a huge resource drain – and in fact helps you to drive your startup toward the success you deserve…
Consider whether IT needs be an in-house venture
An enormous part of the overall expense of IT is the cost of the staffing that’s required to keep everything operating as it should.
That’s not to say that wages will be the only thing that impacts your budget – there’s the cost of recruiting a team, training the team, making sure their accreditations are up to date, covering sickness… and much more.
So, a big deciding factor in whether IT will be on your side or not is whether you want to sink a world of resources into having a team in-house that can look after your internal IT requirements.
Of course, there’s an alternative – and it comes in the shape of a ‘managed service provider’ (MSP). Employing the services of an MSP is a shortcut way to having an immediate IT team. They’ll work to a tight service level agreement that maps out exactly what you need – and, as long as you’re paying your monthly fee, they’re likely to be at the end of the phone should you need their support.
While there’s some merit in having IT people onsite, the emergence of SD WAN as a control for your network – and a host of other monitoring and remote control systems means you don’t necessarily need ‘hands on’ anymore – so, if you can talk to an MSP about delivering the same service you’d need a full in-house team to match, it’s a conversation that could redirect a lot of IT spend back into other parts of the business.
Use IT to maximise opportunities
Often, IT is seen as the foundation from which your business operates. There are essentials that you just can’t live without – email systems, accounting software, role specific tools – but these are almost taken for granted – essential pieces of any business’s operation.
Another system that should probably be seen as an essential – but usually isn’t – is a customer relationship management (CRM) tool. A CRM can have unbelievable results when employed properly – so, it deserves to be your favourite part of your business IT.
Last year, a wide-spanning study looked into the effectiveness of CRM systems across thousands of businesses. The results were nothing short of extraordinary:
- Conversion rates increased by up to 300%
- Lead generation cost was reduced 25%
- Customer satisfaction was up by an average of 75%
As a business decision maker, those kind of improvements are tantalising. You could significantly improve your business perform with the same spend – or, reduce your spend and still achieve your current results. The outlay? A normally inexpensive piece of cloud-based software that is likely to cost less than your coffee machine…
Cost doesn’t mean you have to cut corners
There are some IT costs that you just can’t get around. Your team probably need workstations, you very possibly need networking infrastructure – and you virtually certainly need the kind of foundation stone software that means you can open documents, spreadsheets and put together a sales presentation.
So, if these are essentials – how do you stop them damaging your cashflow and ensuring your can drive your business forward elsewhere?
The answer? Don’t pay for them – well, at least, not upfront.
The world of IT is changing. Where installing Microsoft Office on 10 of your workstations once meant buying 10 versions of the full Office suite, things now work very differently. ‘Software as a Service’ is now the way that most software providers and companies do business. Rather than a huge (and then periodically repeating) outlay – you simply make one small monthly payment that covers your staff team’s software requirements.
If you size up, you can size your subscription up. Scale things down – and you can do the same with your software. No need for licence purchases.
The great news is, it’s not just software that’s available with this pricing structure. Need a development platform from which you can create your own systems? No problem, it’s available as a service. Want to install a new email or storage server? Again, no problem – you can be connected to a virtual server that you’re paying for monthly quicker than you could have one delivered to site.
If you want to cut costs without cutting corners, IT as a service is the way to go.
IT can bring your team together
As someone who manages a business, you’re already well aware that having a team that works smoothly together is an enormous asset in itself – but can IT impact that?
The answer is a resounding yes. Numerous cases studies have proved that teams who collaborate online are actually up to 10% more productive than those who share and office space.
The reason? Well, it’s hard to pin it down to one specific factor – but efficiency is likely to play a major part. If you’ve worked in offices for more than 10 years, you’ll remember the days where numerous copies of spreadsheets existed – with individual sections email around for people to update – or word documents that were revised and copied until there was absolute confusion about which was the most up to date version.
Now, the major players in the software world build collaboration tools into their platforms – with people able to edit, talk, and work together in real time. For you, that doesn’t just mean a slick operation when your team are working together, it means that your team can be spread as far and as wide around the globe as you wish – unlocking the potential of international recruitment and the opportunity to bring exceptional freelancers onboard…