When do you know if you have an IT Problem?

Technology is an integral part of every business, and an IT problem can have a major impact on day to day operations and growth aspirations. We all know that the rate of change is escalating, and that companies need to keep up with technology and legislation. How do non-tech businesses manage?  

Its extremely unlikely that a business of less than 10 people (perhaps less than 20 people) will have an in house IT resource. In many cases someone who has an interest in technology and ‘dabbles’ has been handed the role of ‘looking after IT’.  Are they really qualified to make the decisions and how much does it matter? The risk of an IT problem arising increases if their approach is to ask around and go with recommendations from other people who don’t understand the needs of the business. Subjective buddy recommendations make an IT problem more or less inevitable.

The key for any business is to find an IT partner that can help the business achieve its goals. This means understanding the technology that’s needed to achieve these goals, and equip the office and the staff with the proper tools. It’s also important that the IT partner will say when something it is asked to do is not in its area of expertise. Unfortunately many IT companies do not always know their own limitations and will try to ‘help out’ sometimes with disastrous consequences.

It is not just the smaller companies who experience IT problems. There are frequent news items about failures of IT at government level and in larger institutions e.g. the online farm payments system. In the private sector JD Sports took a decision in 2016 to halt the implementation of an Oracle ERP system and revert back to its legacy system. This was after a spend of £5.9M.

A recent report from Managed 24/7 has estimated that every UK employee in the private sector who uses IT, wastes about 5.59% of their working time because of an IT problem. That equates to 2.5 hours per week, and around 17 days per year!

So what can be done to reduce the chance of an IT problem hitting your business, or end up with an IT partner who doesn’t understand your business or your needs?

The first step is to realise that it’s not easy. Many aspects of IT are commoditised and more and more hosting and software is moving into the cloud. You need to first understand your business needs, and then consider what sort of IT partner you want to build a relationship with.

The second step, is to look at your business and your business plan and consider which are critical areas. Where will your IT spend be most effective? Where do you need to get advice? The last question is key and one which many companies find difficult to answer. They may find it even more difficult to find an impartial expert.

There are a number of individuals and companies who can provide help to align your business needs with IT. They can first take a look at what you have, and provide impartial recommendations according to your budget and preferences. They can also help you through the selection of an IT partner with whom you can build a long term relationship.

Company Connecting works with many different companies. Many of the companies we work with will recognise some of the above – having come to us after having a serious IT problem either with an IT supplier. Technology is so important to many businesses that it is important to reduce the level of risk to your business from IT or IT related problems. In most walks of life we take advice before engaging in certain activities. IT is just the same and requires the same level of professionalism.

We would love to hear your experiences, and thoughts on getting it right with IT. Company Connecting and Analysis Logic are working together to help companies define their IT needs, and guide them through the maze of selecting an IT partner. 

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First published on Company Connecting September 2016

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