I Need IT Support - Where Do I Start?
Exciting news! Your business is booming, you're getting ready to expand, and you've outgrown your current ad hoc, break-fix IT situation. Bottom line: you are too big to not have a technology roadmap. So now what? You know you need a solid IT strategy and IT infrastructure in place to support your rapid growth, but you don't know where to start. Well, we're going to give you a step-by-step guide on how to begin setting up a scaleable, secure IT strategy for your successful business.
Step 1 - Enlist the help of an expert
We know you know this but we really can't emphasize this enough: technology is complicated! There are people who live and breathe IT and you should utilize their help, at least initially. If you do have some background in technology and know a little bit about where you want to begin, we would recommend getting a second opinion. IT is an ever changing industry and you may not have time to read all of the latest advancements and pitfalls. We see IT as very similar to medical care: you should go to a doctor you trust, get a second opinion, and NEVER rely on webmd.com (aka try to fix it yourself). There is the option of hiring a full-time IT engineer, but at this point in these initial steps, we highly advise you to hire a consulting firm with a company-size wealth of knowledge. You will get a team of experts who can guide you through the process and even let you know what you should be paying for an internal IT resource.
Step 2 - Assess the situation
A network and/or security assessment gathers information regarding your network infrastructure, devices, security measures, policies and procedures. You should enlist a third party or managed service provider to perform the assessment. The third party will use a series of tools to test all of your systems and safeguards. They will then compare their findings with industry standards along with your business goals to provide best practice recommendations tailored for your business. Finally, they provide a security report that identifies the current state of your protection, lays out any gaps in your security, and includes a roadmap on how to thoroughly secure your network against security breaches.
Step 3 - Align technology with your business goals
After you've assessed your network and security infrastructure, you must examine your business goals. How do you plan to use technology to support your growth? Not every technological advancement makes sense to add to your inventory. Some technology might counter operational efforts you might be working on, and other technology might just not work within your company's culture. Sit with a high level IT expert, much like a CTO, and strategically think about the best, most cost effective technologies that could enhance your vision for your company's future.
Step 4 - Create an IT roadmap
As we've previously mentioned in this blog post, technology is complicated and cannot be implemented all at once. Technological upgrades, infrastructure changes, and other IT projects usually are completed over a period of time due to the size and complex nature of each project. We work with our clients to create an IT roadmap so they know exactly what they will need to spend, what internal resources will be utilized, and how much ROI they should expect throughout the next few years. This helps create transparency and predictability for your business as well as your IT department.
Step 5 - Determine your IT budget
Rule of thumb is that most small to midsize businesses (SMB) should spend between 4 to 6 percent of total annual revenue on technology, and that number has only increased with time. Predictability is key here because IT projects and technology in general can become astronomically over budget if you're not careful. Managed service contracts remedy this issue. You can basically pay a monthly fee for a wide variety of IT support like 24/7 help desk, monitoring, patching, repair, etc. Usually your IT provider will have a managed services option as well as estimated flat rates for various IT projects. Make sure you work with an IT company that has PMI Certified Project Managers who can implement the most current project management methodologies for your IT projects, to make sure your IT projects end on-time and on-budget.
Step 6 - Perform Technical Business Reviews
We believe in reviewing your IT provider's work and making adjustments as needed! You don't have to wait until the end of the year to figure out whether your IT strategy is going as planned. Whether you hired an internal IT professional, or procured a Managed Services Provider, you should always check their work and make sure technology is supporting your business goals as expected. We like to perform TBRs quarterly to make sure we are providing our clients with the utmost transparency.
To request a free consultation with a blackpoint consultant, you can schedule an appointment or call (866) 575-9512.
Copyright: <a href='https://www.123rf.com/profile_rawpixel'>rawpixel / 123RF Stock Photo</a>