Practically your whole business – bar the furniture – is on your computer system these days. So, looking after your business means looking after that system. We’re taking a look here at how we can help you to understand how to do that because, even if you employ an IT Support Manager, you’re going to have to know what to expect from him or her! Are you or your IT Support Manager doing the following things?
KNOW YOUR IT SUPPLIERS – Meet them all to be very clear about what they do for you, how much they’re costing you, and review your reasons for signing them up. Great IT suppliers will bend over backwards to help you make life easier come budget time and will have useful ideas for you. Ask them what they’re best at, what they’re renowned for, and how they’ve helped their most successful clients. When you have to undertake a special project, knowing who to go to for help will save you time and effort. You can often get some superb ideas from suppliers who’ve dealt with similar projects many times before.
KNOW YOUR SERVICE CONTRACTS – check the contract dates, diarise reviews, and read the summaries. Renegotiating old contracts can find you quick savings, sometimes you’ll even find obsolete services you’re still paying for, and you’ll be able to plan much better for contract renewals or tenders.
PRODUCE A FLOW CHART – This should show how all your IT systems integrate, which systems actually do work together rather than should work together. How do your IT systems fit in with the business goals? Such a flow chart should highlight efficiency improvements to start working on and enhance your ability to spot vulnerabilities and fix problems.
IDENTIFY CRITICAL AREAS – Which systems are most/least critical for business continuity? Checking they are being backed-up is the minimum you should do. Ensure you document recovery processes, times and objectives. Know where to locate your disaster recovery plan! When trouble hits (and it will) you’ll instantly know what to do.
FUTURE FINANCE – Avoid traps like over-ambitious spending and set aside a budget for the IT work inherent in important upcoming changes like office moves, restructuring and acquisitions. Such projects heavily impact IT! IT systems do wear out and become obsolete so account for this too. If you employ an IT Manager or outsource – ensure they are briefed appropriately by the person in charge of finance and consulted for their advice about any such upcoming changes.
PAST EXPENDITURE – review the projects and expenditures you have previously approved (or get your IT Manager to do so) and decide which commitments you want to alter, re-approve, cancel, delay or reprioritise.
MORE THAN ONE PERSON ON YOUR IT TEAM? – You or the IT Manager should meet with each member of your team and ask what they like and hate doing in their job. Gain an idea of their skills and weaknesses. Also ask each member if they have any great ideas, something they feel would transform the business. As a result of this you might decide to make changes to your team, but you don’t want anyone to mess up your plan by suddenly leaving. A lack of development opportunities is the number one cause of staff turnover. Listening to your team members will at least show you what development opportunities are possibilities and those free ideas could be very useful indeed.
PRODUCE AN IT OPERATIONS MANUAL – If you have more than one person looking after your IT this will show how the IT Department functions, including external parties, as well as the disaster recovery plan. Having one in place builds confidence amongst your IT team and the wider organisation.
PLAN – Create a 6-month IT plan. Outline any changes, upgrades, and improvements that you can envisage based on the company’s goals. Share this plan internally, and with your most trusted IT suppliers. The more people who are prepared for your plans, the easier you’ll find those plans to execute. Trusted external suppliers can share their own experiences from other clients, help you avoid pitfalls and help you plan the resources you’ll need to get hold of. This is especially true if you outsource your IT Support.
CONSIDER FULLY OUTSOURCING – If you don’t want to get into funding the cost of an IT Manager AND his or her sickness/holiday cover and all the other inherent staffing issues ….
If you don’t want to carry the entire burden of maintaining IT when you’re also trying to develop your business – lean on a reputable IT support company. That way you’ll have more freedom to bring in more business and work on growth.
By making sure you get the right IT support services to meet your needs, you and your business will benefit.