IT: the problem child for small businesses

IT demands attention, has the ability to wreak havoc on your day and can unexpectedly drain budgets. In fact, some might even say IT has long been the least favourite and most problematic child in the family of expenses for SME owners.

Unlike its other money-making siblings, IT has a reputation for unpredictably throwing productivity crippling tantrums. Whether it be a mid-morning server crash or an intermittent internet outage, these issues take effect across practically every industry.

But in reality, making your IT work for your business should (and can) be simple. Here are my top tips to tame the problem child and get the most out of your IT investment.

  1. Prepare for the worst

Probably the most simple and overlooked tip is to ensure you have a strong system for when an issue unfolds. Back your back up’s, and then just for good measure back those up also – you will thank yourself later. More copies are better than no copies.

  1. Do sweat the small stuff

Password123 is not a good security measure. The small things, such as passwords on company computers, will slip you up. They are simple, quick to fix and untreated can be the cause of huge data security breaches and multiple viruses.

  1. Be wary of buzz words

Just because you read about cloud or IoT, doesn’t mean your business needs them or they are going to make you money. Don’t deploy cloud systems too early and make sure you are getting advice from someone who understands your business needs and trajectory for growth.

  1. Focus on the future

Understanding where your business is at now, and where it will be in a year or two is crucial to setting up an IT infrastructure that will adapt as your business grows. Specifics like location, setup and brands may not seem like big decisions now but they will be once your business expands.

  1. Protect from attacks within

Malware attacks and email viruses are well-known threats to SMEs, but some of the greatest threats lay within the organisation. Malicious users and disgruntled employees can cause just as much damage to an organisation that other dangers. Ensure you understand what your employees have access to and lay the necessary precautions.

  1. Systems don’t always have to be complex

While it may seem that complex systems are the better option, this is often not the case. Sometimes stripping back all processes to the simplest form creates the best and most efficient system. If it seems too complex, it probably is.

  1. Use your name to your advantage

Most SMEs are surprised to know that there is a difference between business and consumer grade technology. Don’t be afraid to let tech professionals know you are an SME. You’ll likely be given better hardware and software – and sometimes a discount too!

  1. Listen to your staff

Your staff will be the ones getting hands on with your IT every day, so they need to understand what works and what doesn’t. Their feedback, even if you disagree, will be pivotal to installing and altering a system to performing effectively.

  1. Keep a cool head

Ensure you stay calm in the face of an IT meltdown. Step back from the problem and call in the experts. Write down the steps that got you to this place, even the small details, as that will help troubleshoot the problem much quicker

  1. Trust your team

Ultimately, every business has different needs and pain points so it’s important to test and learn. Keep in mind that SME IT teams are specialised experts in the field, so trust their guidance but make sure you are well informed so you can wrangle that problem child once and for all.

Alex Slade, CEO, A Corp Computers

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