As recently as two decades ago, many businesses did not need to worry about IT. Information technology was something managed by big corporations, tech based firms, and big universities and research institutions.
Now, however, any business that accepts credit card payments or owns a single computer needs a plan in place to manage the information and technology compiled by their business. That does not mean, however, that every business has the same IT needs. The freelancer working at the coffee shop on their laptop has a different set of goals than the startup about to or the major corporation managing and sorting an immense amount of data.
So how does a business determine the right IT strategy for their needs?
Know Your Goals
To for your business, it’s important to understand what the goals are for your company. Are you looking to be a single person operation that works one-on-one with clients? Do you hope to create a tech firm that has sales in the hundreds of thousands or millions annually? Will your primary business be online, or will you focus on brick and mortar locations?
Your IT needs are directly tied into what you’re doing with your business and what your long term goals are; knowing those goals will help you determine what sort of IT strategy you need.
Know Your Options
At one end of the options spectrum, a company can hire and staff a full team. The team might manage implementation of new programs, backups and storage, data analysis, and more. At the other end of the spectrum, a business owner could decide to do all of this on their own. The first strategy is generally more useful for big companies, while the second is often used by freelancers and others who run microbusinesses.
In the middle are contract firms that offer IT services on either an ad hoc or subscription service. These services are a natural expansion of computer repair and build shops that continue to exist. Businesses can contract for as many services as they need every month, or contact the company when they need something specific. They hire the company to maintain backups, data privacy, and anti-virus rollouts, but only call them for networking problems if the issue can’t be fixed on site.
To be successful when developing an IT strategy, companies need to understand the various ways those needs and goals can be met.
Know Your Needs
To meet their goals, companies need many different things. If a company is accepting credit card sales online, for example, it needs a strategy to safely manage the collected data and protect it from data breach. If you are running a crowdfunding campaign, you need a way to make sure that all backers get the appropriate rewards when the campaign is complete. If you’re a small freelancer running a , you may just need someone to make sure your computer is backing up safely and running properly.
While IT used to be primarily about maintaining computers onsite, which eventual expansions into networking, the overall concept of IT has expanded over recent years. Finding the right team to manage your information technology means knowing what you need them to manage.
Understand How To Meet Your Goals and Needs
When determining the best strategy to , you must take all three of these factors – goals, needs, and options – into account. You also need to consider the budget your business can afford at any given time. Hiring a full-time IT staff – even a staff of one – is more expensive than contracting those services out. If your business manages a great deal of proprietary information, however, or accumulates a great deal of data, it may be much more efficient to have someone on staff who knows your systems well and manages them day to day.
As a freelancer or micro business owner, however, managing your IT solutions may be as simple as making sure your business information is backed up somewhere off site in case of data loss or destruction.
Most businesses lie somewhere in the middle and therefore need a more hybrid approach.
To get a better idea of what services you should contract out and which ones you can continue to manage on your own, track how many hours you spend on various IT tasks in the week. Figure out the labor cost of managing them on your own, then compare that cost to the cost of hiring a quality IT service to manage those same tasks for you.
Looking at the numbers side by side should make it easier to determine the right IT strategy for your business.