Small businesses often struggle with the best way to fulfill roles that are neither profit-generating nor related directly to business operations. Often these roles include finance/accounting, marketing and information technology (IT). In the earliest stages, the company owner or one of its first employees may undertake these tasks. With a mindset of “we all wear many hats” and do what it takes to help the fledgling business survive and grow, the impact of this cobbled-together approach is minimal: bills will get paid, invoices are sent out, computers are ordered and repairs undertaken… and through trial-and-error, these business essentials are maintained.
But then the company grows. Additional employees are hired, and larger projects are undertaken. More clients or customers mean everyone is busy keeping up, and these support roles may fall to the wayside.
All of this is to be expected in the beginning. However, when a business reaches the point that its feeble accounting, IT or marketing practices are holding it back from further potential growth, a solution must be found.
Has your business reached that point? What kind of technology do you currently use, and what additional solutions could enable more and faster business growth? Let’s take a look at a comprehensive list of technology solutions that a typical small business uses.
Along with acquiring and using computer hardware comes the need for someone to undertake purchasing, contract negotiations, repairs/replacement, upgrades, claims for lost/damaged hardware, and security for all of the following basic tools:
- Desktop computers (keyboards, mice, monitors, etc.)
- Mobile devices
Does your office have a closet somewhere where the server is hidden? Do you know where it is, and what to do if it “goes down”?
- In-house servers / Back-up storage
- Internet service provider
- Security (firewalls, etc.)
- Phones: landline and mobile service providers
While some software office packages may cover many of these functions under a single vendor, your business may also have to manage relationships with multiple software vendors to meet your daily business operational needs.
- CRM / databases
- File storage
- Operating systems
- Conferencing software (voice and/or video)
- Accounting software
- Marketing software (graphics, video editing, website hosting)
As a small business grows, its IT needs quickly expand. What could be easily managed by a single person when the business required only a laptop or two with email and a basic website soon can be overwhelmed by constant upgrade considerations, unexpected repairs, researching new systems and tools, staff IT training, and responding to downtime issues.
The Risks of Involuntary IT Managers
Often, a small business will assign a tech-savvy employee the side-job of overseeing IT-related tasks. This person is called an “involuntary information technology manager” and although their position seems to fit the immediate need, the impact is less than ideal.
Even if John the junior engineer seems to know everything about how computers work and is happy to help out when something needs fixing, the time he spends responding to IT crises takes away from the productive work he could be doing in his own field. In addition, while he John may be a whiz at tech stuff, he doesn’t have the professional training and continual education in new/emerging technologies that is needed to keep modern businesses functioning effectively and efficiently.
As a result, small businesses can take a hit to their bottom line that can be difficult to see until the impact becomes impossible to ignore. These negative outcomes can include:
- Lost productivity
- Money lost due to downtime
- Risk of data loss
- Unnecessary IT expenses
- Lower staff morale
Strategic IT Resources for Small Business
Small businesses can avoid the pitfalls of creating an involuntary IT manager by outsourcing their specific IT needs to a managed IT services company. A managed IT services partner can help guide your business through the planning, implementation, and management of its information systems. They can monitor, manage, troubleshoot, and resolve problems for selected network and IT functions on your behalf, and may provide services like security, cloud computing, data backup and disaster recovery, application optimization, and maintenance.
Check out our infographic, “Can You Manage IT On Your Own?” to learn more facts and figures about the impact of involuntary IT managers on small business. (Download it free now!)
To speak with one of the experts at managed IT services company CMA Technology Solutions about how we can oversee and manage your business’s daily IT operations, call 800-349-9200 or reach out via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit us at cmaontheweb.com.