As in most things, the answer to the question "do managed services benefit small businesses?" is "it depends." As unsatisfying as that response may be because of our seemingly inherent desire to drive things to black and white statements, some benefit and some do not.
Topics: Small Business IT Resources, small business it support, Managed IT Services, small business solutions, IT Managed Services, Utilizing Technology in Business, small business IT infrastructure, IT best practices, IT Strategy
Hiring a network support company makes sense doesn't it? Most small businesses are not experts in networking. So, one would think this is a logical thing to outsource.
Over the last two years, we have conducted a study of small business computer services pain points. We interviewed 110 companies ranging from 20 to 100 employees. Representative interviewees included owners, CEOs, presidents, partners, general managers, CFOs, controllers and similar leadership positions. The pain points represent those most affecting business outcomes as reported by the interviewee. Verticals were wide ranging with everything from biotechnology to services organizations to manufacturing and technology.
One of the common questions that I get from owners who need their small business IT infrastructure supported is how can an external company perform support remotely and effectively?
In today’s economically optimistic, but still cautious small business environment, efficiency in information technologies is more important than ever. And the best way to capitalize on that efficiency is to make sure your small business IT support doesn’t just detect problems in your network, it prevents them. Here are the five technology initiatives to best ensure maximum productivity.
A client shared with me something that happened to him while he was on vacation in the Mayan ruins of Mexico. He received a call from his remote network monitoring agency while he was in the middle of those ruins, because one of his servers was down. He looked at this from the point of view that this call was awesome, because now he could get it fixed and his network monitoring provider was able to reach him wherever he was. Or he could have taken a step back and thought to himself: “Why did I even have to get called in the first place?”
How do your employees communicate and collaborate? Is the level of functionality in your office working so that everyone's best talents are put to use, especially yours? Although most small business owners are initially successful because (by being clever and intrepid) they can 'do everything', it also means that owners tend to take on all the responsibilities, working tirelessly to increase profits by whatever means necessary. This usually results in long days, as you struggle to pull yourself ahead while your true talents for networking, leadership and sales get pushed aside. Needless to say, this isn't the most efficient way to use your time.
Encourage Individual Strengths
In order for any small business to thrive, it needs to have an IT process that is capable of being both proactive and adaptable. Asset Management, Backup and Disaster Recovery, Proactive Process and a Security Process are some areas that can greatly reduce potential risks, lost productivity and improve return on capital investment. These are just a few examples of processes that need to be executed to generate results.
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.