New Year… New IT Partner?
Technology isn’t the starting point for many small businesses and start-ups – unless technology is your business.
In a typical small but growing business, your focus is necessarily on the customer and the product or service you are delivering.
As you grow, you pick up new technology tools and services along the way; systems to help you offer the best service to your customers and manage your day-to-day operations. Somewhere along the line, these systems begin take on a life of their own and, suddenly, you are facing data storage issues, back-up requirements and security concerns over sensitive customer data… it’s a mess and you’ve no idea where to start.
So, how can small business owners recognise the signs that help is required, before things start to get out of hand?
And, if you’ve already handed over the management of your IT to a third party, how do you know whether they are delivering the best service and value for money?
Recognising the Signs: Is it Time You Outsourced Your IT?
There are many facets to IT that a small business owner has to consider:
• IT Strategy & Plan
• IT & Data Security
• Data governance
• Backups and disaster recovery
• Application sourcing, management and updates
• Cost management
• Service levels for business users (and, where appropriate, customers)
• Website and social media
However, whether you need to outsource your IT or not boils down to one simple question: do you have the time and budget to employ people with all the skill sets you require?
To answer this, you need to think about whether you find all the skill sets you require in one person, or do you need multiple people to deliver all the expertise you need? And if so, how are you going to recruit and manage them?
Even for small businesses, it is unlikely you will find all the skills you need in one person.
The counterpoint to this is, of course, you probably don’t need any or all of these skills on a full-time basis.
This is the point at which outsourcing begins to make strong commercial sense: you have access to incredible expertise that you probably couldn’t afford full time, with specialist input from managers, architects, security experts, strategists and compliance experts.
How Do You Know Whether Your IT Outsource Supplier Is Delivering Value for Money?
The key to getting good value for money from your IT supplier is in getting the groundwork right. This is critical and more difficult that it might seem. If you’re doing it right, you are probably feeling like you need an IT consultant to help you find and choose a supplier!
You’re going to need to draw up a set of specific service level agreements (SLAs), set timeframes and guidelines for disaster recovery tests, possibly security testing, and other KPIs based on your particular business requirements.
The benefit of doing this is that you can then monitor how your outsourcing company is performing against your stated and agreed objectives – and you could be entitled to financial compensation if they fall below agreed service level agreements.
In some ways, these day-to-day operations are the easy bit. Once you’ve done the preparation in terms of outlining your minimum service standards, it is easy for you to assess whether you are getting value for money.
What’s more difficult to monitor is the payback you’re getting from the strategic advice your outsourcing company delivers.
However, this is just as important to understand. It is the strategic consulting and project work that moves IT from being just a cost centre for your business to being a driver of innovation and profit.
The key question here is then: is your IT outsourcing supplier delivering that real strategic and financial benefit to your organisation through innovation?
If not, perhaps it’s time you spoke with us?
Grant McGregor offers a number of services to support you through any IT outsourcing decision or process: from specific security services and training, IT systems appraisal and health checks, through to complete outsourcing services.
And, if you do want to consider outsourcing your IT to us, we’ll guide you through every step of our proven process.
Contact us today on 0808 164 4142.