Knowing when to update your IT systems can be a difficult business decision. For many SME bosses, changing an IT system is as attractive as root canal work.
Charles Black, CEO of Cloud Computing Services company Nasstar plc, describes some of the best trigger points for a strategic IT review.
It’s a truth generally acknowledged that entrepreneurs love doing business. They love making deals, selling things and seeing their thoughts translated into deeds.
But for some entrepreneurs – or indeed most – business tasks like bookkeeping or filing annual returns to Companies House bore them rigid.
Another thing that either bores or baffles entrepreneurs is IT. Yes they know proper IT systems raise efficiency. But as to how it all works, SME bosses find it all just too damn complicated and some prefer not to focus on it.
Which means that when it comes to strategic decisions about their firm’s IT systems, some entrepreneurs can be guilty of neglect.
The good news is that modern IT solutions such as cloud computing installations, once in place, can take away an awful lot of future aggravation.
So, if your IT systems are beginning to let you down, or if you feel that you could be more productive and efficient with new IT, when is the best time to call in an expert?
Before you hit the phones, it’s important to recognise that a wholesale change to your IT system will interrupt normal business and cost money.
A new IT system, with new software applications, may well require retraining your employees, many of whom, like you, will be happier to stick with what they know how to use.
Also, discarding your old IT system and bringing in a whole brand new one might be costly, no matter how good a deal maker you are.
On top of new hardware and other equipment, and you must also factor in the fees of an IT consultant.
And realistically, even the best planned upgrade will inevitably cause some disturbance to how you do business. Therefore this is not something that can be done without forethought and proper planning.
An ideal time is for a change of IT systems is when faced with a major new software release. Perhaps a new version of Windows will be on the market soon, and it’s something that all your employees will have to get used to anyway.
Another good time for a review is when moving offices. You will probably want to throw out as much of the old hardware at this point and move in with some brand new equipment.
Or perhaps you are acquiring a business and will need to integrate a large number of PCs onto your IT system. This is a very good time for a thorough IT review.
During a growth spurt when you know that you’ll be recruiting new staff is also a good time to review. At this stage it may well be easier to put all staff, old and new, on a new IT platform, particularly if you are considering a ‘cloud’ computing solution.
The benefits of moving your IT system to the cloud – which runs all your software applications and hardware on an external host’s servers – means you can roll out any software changes simultaneously.
Also the cloud solution frees you from worrying about backing up key files, or having a separate disaster data recovery service. By its very nature, the cloud takes care of these tasks.
But best of all, using a cloud solution means you will never again face the dilemma of when to upgrade.