As a small to medium business (SMB), your IT infrastructure plays a critical role in your overall strategy. The least expensive way to run technology is through process, but the problem is that it is difficult for the average small and medium business to develop an effective IT process, because of the extensive skills, tools and resources required. It takes a village - one that can be amortized across a broad customer base to gain sufficient economies of scale to make it cost-effective.
There are a dozen different technology areas in which an organization needs expertise in order to effectively execute a technology process for a small business, so it is very difficult for an SMB to have a dedicated IT person with all of these skills. An IT process is not simply a static list of to-dos that, once-completed, is shelved. The firm you choose to help you develop and implement your IT process should understand that the process is a living, breathing, dynamic outline of your approach to IT, ensuring that your IT infrastructure is aligned with your business goals, that you are proactively addressing the challenges of your business using best practices, and that you have a clear idea about the true cost of IT. Your IT process has to be dynamic and changing because technology and your business are always changing.
Why is an IT process so important? IT processes provide a proactive approach to business IT management. Developing or improving your IT process may be more important to your success this year than by following any of the predicted tech trends. Processes drive alignment; without processes in place, there can be a lot of misalignment. Some misalignment may not directly impact your users right away; others will realize an immediate impact.
Consider equipment management. If you do not have a process in place to manage equipment throughout its lifecycle, you can end up with an IT infrastructure in which the equipment is out of date and beyond its ability to be useful. When you operate from a reactive process, in which you run your IT equipment until it breaks and you then repair it, fix it or replace it, you're losing money. Often, the lack of a process is not readily visible; it’s lying beneath the surface costing you in ways you don’t even realize. An IT process that addresses maintenance, disposal and replacement of equipment helps make IT costs more predictable and therefore more budget friendly.
Equipment lifecycle management is only one area in which an IT process is beneficial. Proactive IT process development can save you money in many different areas of your business. While there are a variety of different technology areas, which are going to range from various flavors of security to server infrastructure to operating systems to endpoints like desktops and laptops, to environmental concerns, you may not need to address every IT process, but you can exceed client expectations with SMB IT infrastructure. You may have 10 areas which are out of alignment, but if only three of those impact your business substantively, then you need to focus on addressing those areas. It is a matter of balancing the cost against the risk.
As you build your small business IT support services and make your IT resolutions for 2013, it is important to at least consider if you have an effective IT process for every area of your SMB IT infrastructure, from developing security processes that keep your data and your client’s data safe to development processes that ensure the more efficient and cost-effective practices to data management processes that keep the information you need at your fingertips. There are a set of best practices for each area of the IT process, to ensure that your IT processes align with your business.
- IT infrastructure plays a critical role in your overall business strategy, and developing a proactive IT process is crucial to managing and predicting IT costs.
- Proactive IT process development can save you money in many different areas of your business.
- As you consider the areas in which your IT process is out of alignment, focus your efforts on those areas that have a significant impact on your business.