When you’re thinking about business growth, does the prospect of growing your IT fill you will excitement – or dread?
If you’re a business owner or decision maker, there’s a good chance that it’s the latter. Growth almost always has a price tag attached – especially around IT, and that price tag is often the thing that means growing your business has to be done more slowly – or with a less-than-perfect infrastructure.
The good news is, growing your business doesn’t always mean that you have to make enormous changers to your IT systems, teams or services. In fact, today’s tech actually put IT firmly on your side when you’re driving your business forward.
Here, we’re covered a few hurdles that you might find when you’re planning to expand your business – and how IT can help you overcome them…
How can you expand your team?
There’s an often-enormous IT spend that people don’t consider when they’re looking at expanding their business – and that’s the cost of staff.
IT systems do not look after themselves – and what’s more, they don’t sleep, so if you’ve got a business that needs its IT working 24/7, you’re going to need a good amount of people on hand to keep the lights on.
On the face of it, even a fairly basic IT network needs staff – but, thanks to big leaps forward in cloud computing, that staff team doesn’t necessarily need to be on the payroll. Recent years have seen a massive increase in the number of companies looking to Managed Service Providers (MSPs) for support with their IT needs.
A managed service provider is, essentially, a subscription IT team. You choose the team you want, the service level you need – then both companies agree on a Service Level Agreement (SLA). You’ll make a monthly or annual payment – and the MSP will make sure they deliver you IT requirements. The great news is, an MSP removes the need for a lot of the hard work that surrounds recruiting, training and maintaining an in-house IT team – the cost of which is often tens of thousands before they’re up and running.
Modern IT systems lend themselves well to MSP partnerships. Companies that are introducing SD WAN systems as part of the growth have an even broader selection of MSPs to choose from – since the tech allows your network to be configured and maintained remotely – unlocking the door to a world of exceptional servicer providers.
How do you encourage collaboration?
When it comes to thinking about getting the most from your staff team, you’ll perhaps think that productivity is at its highest when you’ve got a tight-knit team in their own office – but you’d be wrong.
Countless studies have shown that the most effective teams are those who collaborate online – and IT unlocks a world of possibilities when you’re looking to implement effective collaborative working.
Don’t misunderstand – collaboration doesn’t mean emailing spreadsheets and reports back and forward to your team – it means real-time access to the same workspaces, and the ability to communicate with one another as you work. Microsoft and Google are at the forefront of this with their Office 365 and G-Suite products – and the results are startling – with a productivity increase of around 10% for each member of your team.
If you’re looking at growing your business, 10% more out of your current team could be the key to saving a huge amount of money in recruitment, training and staff retention.
Of course, the fact that people are collaborating online also means that your talent pool as just opened up to include the whole world – not just potential candidates that are within commuting distance of your office…
How can you maximize every opportunity?
Companies tend to consider ‘growth’ to mean greater numbers – more business at the top end of a sales funnel drips down to create a bigger bottom line – right?
Well, that’s certainly one way of growing a business – but working harder is often trumped by simply working smarter – and IT can help with that.
If you provide a product or service to customers, then upping your conversion rates from sales and marketing work is an incredible way of growing your business without enormous changes – but how’s it done?
Building your processes around a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is almost guaranteed to produce impressive results. In fact, a wide-reaching study that covered CRM systems and the companies that use them, showed conversion rates can increase by over 300% with CRM in place. What’s more, lead cost is reduced significantly (by nearly 25%) and customer retention rates are improved.
Most CRM systems are now cloud-based too – so they can be bought at a reasonable monthly rate – as well as accessed from anywhere in the world. Embracing a good CRM system is unquestionably one of the simplest ways you can grow your business.
How do you buy IT services at a reasonable rate?
Buying IT of any kind used to mean putting a sizable dent in your capital expenditure budget lines – but this is no longer the case.
For many of the tech giants, wealth came from licensing. If you wanted a product, you paid for it up front, installed it within your company and put it to use. Then, when it was time to upgrade, you repeated this process.
For many small businesses, this type of purchasing agreement just isn’t possible. The initial outlay drives people to look for alternatives – so, those same tech giants started to implement something close to a ‘pay as you go’ style payment option – or, ‘Software as a Service’ as it’s become known.
Purchasing IT applications and infrastructure ‘as a service’ is essentially a subscription method. As long as you’re paying the monthly cost, you’ve got cloud access to the system – which can then be rolled out to as many or as few people as required – you just adjust your subscription as needed.
For many small to medium sized businesses, effectively managing cashflow is absolutely essential – so, when you look at what’s needed to grow your business, it’s worth considering whether it’s available ‘as a service’.