Sean Kline over at Turbotek wrote an excellent description of what best practices to look for when choosing an IT provider.
There are a number of IT services that offer to audit your business and identify your IT issues. You should be careful about jumping in to do an IT audit without understanding its purpose. The issues an audit identifies – antivirus issues, spam issues, server issues, security risks – are symptoms of an IT infrastructure that is out of alignment. The natural reaction for any business owner will be to fix those issues. However, implementing an IT process that aligns IT to the business at the lowest overall cost solves not only the symptoms but the underlying cause: taking a reactive vs. proactive approach to IT management.
Many business owners operate under the assumption that if they fix whatever problems they have with hardware or software, or if they just move to the cloud, it will solve all of their IT problems. Taking this approach is like putting a bandage over a wound that needs stitches: you may slow the bleeding, but you’re not resolving the fundamental root cause, which is that there is limited process in place and insufficient small business IT support. Because both technology and business change, you need to have a comprehensive process in place to evolve. This lets you better leverage your technology to effectively drive results for your business. Unfortunately, the reactive approach to IT management that most business owners take ends up leading them to a place where IT cost overruns are a regular occurrence.
If you are living in reactive mode as a business owner, it’s time to change your IT lifestyle. No matter what business you own, whether you’re a medical service provider or an auto dealer, one thing is certain: you are not in the business of IT services. If you’re not in the business of IT services, then you should not be spending a lot of your time updating technology, putting out tech-related fires, or managing IT security. Your focus should not be about IT management at all, but on using effective IT managed services to help you achieve the goals of your business. This is where managed IT can offer an effective solution.
Taking a more comprehensive approach to IT management helps you get your arms around how technology really impacts the business and helps you develop a vision for what the business can do when your technology is running a certain way. The truth is, technology doesn’t matter. What matters is what you are trying to achieve. How are you going to increase sales? How are you going to reduce costs? How do you retain customers and talented employees?
Many business owners don’t think about technology until it has failed them. They are then impacted by downtime and the impact it has on business and customer satisfaction. The reality is that your approach to IT management will affect your business either positively or negatively. It will affect your employees. Efficient IT infrastructure management enables the productivity of employees, which increases morale. Efficient IT management reduces risks for your business and for your clients, and it increases your competitiveness in your industry. All the technology in the world isn’t worth anything if it’s not helping you to produce profit and meet the other goals of your business.
An audit may help you identify issues, but it won’t help you establish the overarching processes you need to improve your IT infrastructure.
Taking a reactive approach to IT can cost a lot more money in the long run than developing IT management processes that can be leveraged to help you meet your business goals.
Technology by itself doesn’t matter, but properly structured IT infrastructure can help you meet your business goals.