As a Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) owner, there will probably come a time when you need to take a serious look at your IT systems and make some calls about your ‘next phase’.
Every company uses some form of technology to handle business operations, whether it’s to process orders, maintain financial records, or communicate with customers and suppliers.
If you’re finding that operations are becoming less efficient as your business grows, and your staff are spending more time doing mundane tasks than important activities, it can be an indication that your technology needs an upgrade.
How can you be sure? By recognising the 4 key warning signs that your technology is creaking under the strain.
1 Your IT is Unreliable
By adding technology haphazardly, many SMEs end up with a mix of different hardware brands and software versions that don’t mesh very well together. While this patchwork approach can work for a while, eventually it’s going to cause problems. For example:
- Your systems are slow and/or crashing
- Your computers can’t handle even simple software updates
- You have regular print queue logjams
- Your network isn’t able to handle your web traffic
2 Your staff are complaining
If something about your business’ current IT setup isn’t working for your staff, they’re probably going to be vocal about it. But by the time it becomes your knowledge, they’ve probably been struggling with inefficient technology for a while.
Your staff are your best insight into the functioning of your business since they live and breathe the processes on a daily basis. If they express frustration at the hardware and software they’re using – listen!
It’s crucial for employees to be given the best tools for the job. For example, most PC equipment tends to slow down after a couple of years, so laptops and desktops should be renewed on an 18-24 month cycle.
3 You can’t do what you want with your IT
As more businesses transact on the move, you might be looking to make your workforce more mobile. A way to do this is by providing your staff with portable devices such as tablets and smartphones, but in order for these to be secure, they need to be properly supported.
This means the right IT infrastructure needs to be in place, which also enables you to add and remove users and devices with ease. It’s useless trying to use new hardware with old servers and networks.
The same goes for new software. It’s easy to get seduced into thinking that a new marketing automation platform or database for inventory is the key to selling more. But this is only true if the infrastructure that underpins the business – is sound.
There’s no point spending money on the latest cloud software if you’re going to leave employees suffering with a slow internet connection that can’t support it.
4 Your competitors are gaining ground
Keep an eye on your competitors and any new market entrants, as they’re likely to be adopting tools that make their businesses run at a lower cost or deliver greater value to customers.
This is particularly important if you compete with larger businesses, as they have more money to throw at technology, meaning your business will have to work extra hard to keep up. If you have old IT systems in place, however, you won’t have much room to move.
Slow and steady
If you’ve noticed some of these warning signs, it doesn’t mean you need to tackle everything in one go. A business IT upgrade can be very expensive – especially because fixing one component can cause a chain reaction where suddenly your entire IT infrastructure needs an overhaul.
The key is to focus on the practical aspects first. You can start by undertaking a total tech audit to understand what’s working and what’s not working. From here you can prioritise those urgent issues to ensure you have a solid foundation in place. Then you can start working to use technology to create an advantage for your business.
All you need to do is be familiar with the warning signs. If any of the above 4 symptoms arise, you know you need to take action. And when you do, your staff will thank you for it.
Find our why your companies IT Strategy is key to your businesses succes, with our free guide below.