Increasingly, effective IT infrastructure plays a vital role in business success.
As a start-up, it’s common for a business owner or in-house team member to take responsibility for the ongoing management of IT issues.
However, as businesses grow so do the complexities of the technologies required to ensure their smooth-running. Not only can this be time consuming, but only a true IT expert can offer the correct support to enable a business to thrive.
If you’re responsible for the IT needs of your operations, it’s likely you’ll find yourself spending more of your valuable time resolving IT frustrations as your business grows.
By handing over your IT responsibilities to an external expert, you can rest assured of a network that’s always primed for peak performance. Meanwhile, you’ll get back time to focus on running and growing your business.
From resolving one-off network issues, to providing ongoing support to handle all IT requirements, the right external IT support partner will have the skills and knowledge to make sure your infrastructure will not impact on productivity, customer experience or reputation.
In terms of what your IT support package should cover and the associated costs, the specifics of the services required will vary from business to business. Always remember, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Many considerations need to be made to ensure you have access to the right support for you.
How much you spend on IT support and what type of support your spend covers will be entirely unique to your circumstances. There are, however, a few key areas that every business should consider:
1. The modern business has no option but to set aside some budget for expert IT support.
Surprisingly, even in this day and age, some businesses simply do not follow this golden rule! The smart businesses of today should be willing to dedicate around five per cent of their budget towards IT, from ongoing support, to the costs associated with upgrading and maintaining vital hardware, software and licenses.
2. In-house support is expensive when compared to an outsourced solution.
The support of an external IT partner will never cost as much as the salary of an in-house IT expert. Plus, with an external partner you have access to an entire team with broad expertise, available to you for 24/7 support. This kind of access will ensure issues are dealt with swiftly and have minimal impact on business operations and productivity.
Perhaps a more important consideration than the budget dedicated to having round-the-clock expert support is the potential losses caused by reduced productivity and profitability, and potential reputational damage.
Essentially, you can reduce your IT spend, while simultaneously increasing your overall IT capacity and access to support. Surely that’s a win/win?
3. When investigating potential IT support partners, one thing you shouldn’t need to allow for in your budget is a network audit.
Any decent IT support provider will conduct a free network audit as a standard part of their process. They will review your current set-up, work to understand the size and nature of your business, and the number of employees, locations and devices. They will also consider all anticipated future needs and goals. It is this background knowledge that will help determine the type of support you need, and the recommendations that will support the growth of your business.
4. Don’t be afraid to upgrade!
Outdated legacy equipment places your business at a disadvantage in terms of functionality and efficiency, particularly when compared to those taking advantage of the latest innovations. Given their thirst for knowledge about the very latest, industry-leading solutions and technologies from around the world, an IT support partner is in the strongest position to make sure your system always remains fit-for-purpose.
When deciding how to divide your IT budget, make sure to allow a substantial portion for rebuilding and upgrading clunky systems that slow you down. And this should not be seen as a one-time thing! Advice on potential improvements to your system should be offered by your IT support partner in an ongoing capacity, to ensure you are well-equipped to meet both current and future goals.
5. Consider any restraints that may impact your approach.
When working with your external IT partner to determine which aspects of support you should invest your available budget in, you should also consider any current constraints that require your IT infrastructure to be set-up in a certain way. For instance, as an increasing number of businesses turn to the cloud, others may not be able to embrace a solution that’s 100% cloud-based, particularly where personal data is required to be saved on-site for compliance reasons.
This is where the support of an external IT expert can prove vital. Equipped with a thorough understanding of the tech landscape, plus their insights into the specifics of your business, they can advise on how best to develop a tailored solution that will meet your needs, within budget.
Having said that, the more complex your set-up, the more expensive it tends to become to maintain. Your IT support partner will therefore also need to ensure the most straightforward set-up within your parameters, while keeping ongoing costs to a minimum.
6. One smart area to dedicate a significant portion of your IT budget to is security.
Regular security reviews and upgrades are crucial in today’s evolving IT landscape. The recent shift towards remote working has brought with it a host of new security risks, as businesses look for ways to enable their staff to access critical company data and applications from more devices and locations.
Your IT support partner can proactively work with you to make sure the most powerful security measures are in-place, detect and mitigate threats, and protect your systems and business data from cyber attacks. Coupled with regular and effective data back-ups, these steps will put you in the best position to make a swift recovery should disaster strike. Failure to do so could be potentially devastating for business continuity and recovery.
7. Enabling your geographically dispersed team to continue to work cohesively.
Also on the remote-working front, businesses continue to seek out new ways to enable their teams to seamlessly collaborate regardless of geography. And with the trend towards remote working unlikely to disappear any time soon, this would seem like a smart investment.
Microsoft 365, for example, has proven an invaluable tool in recent times for supporting workforce mobility, thanks to easy and secure access to business data from any device alongside features including virtual meetings, live document editing and instant messaging. It is therefore well worth allowing some money in your IT budget to implement a platform that offers these capabilities.
Fundamentally, the majority of your business IT budget is best invested in consultation with an expert IT support provider, with the knowledge required to advise on the best support solutions for your distinct business needs.