The relationship that a lot of Vermont businesses have with their business IT person is similar to the one they have with their plumber. They only get a phone call when something’s broken, and it needs to be fixed now.
Unfortunately, now tends to be too late and your business is left with a devastating mess.
When an IT emergency occurs, productivity stalls and access to company data is often put on hold for days while the pros are called in to fix the problem. Everyone is frustrated, and getting things back on track often comes with a hefty bill.
A break-fix model is not uncommon for small and medium-sized business who don’t have the budget for a full-time Chief Information Officer. But that model can often end up costing you more than investing in a slightly more robust relationship with an IT company that’s forward-looking in its nature. Vermont businesses can choose a better way to manage their IT.
Shifting Your Approach to Save Money
Most business owners don’t have time to be experts in their industry vertical and the business technology vertical. Budget-wise, IT is often viewed as an expense, and they treat IT like an on-call EMT who shows up to save lives in an emergency. But that’s not a good way to operate on a practical level, or on a financial one.
If you can’t invest your time in understanding the technology your company needs to optimize productivity, then you need to find someone you trust to do it for you. An ideal business IT relationship looks less like a break-fix model with an unknown expense and more like an investment that’s maintained in the way a financial planner manages a client’s retirement funds. They protect the investment you made today and make calculated adjustments to protect your investment for the long haul, with a growth mindset. If something goes wrong, or the DOW takes a nosedive, they’ll have a solution that protects your funds as much as possible. At the same time, they’ll use their expertise to keep an eye on the big picture, so you don’t have to.
This is exactly how you should think of your business IT. Moving away from the break-fix mindset and thinking of your relationship with a business IT professional as one that protects your business in a more day-to-day sense rather than only in emergencies will ultimately save you money, time, and the headaches that come with extreme productivity stalls.
Expanding IT to Improve Efficiency
We can’t predict the future—no ones knows whether an actual lightning strike is going to take out some of your technology. But a business IT professional can help you plan for today, tomorrow, and the rare instance in which your data and assets suffer worst-case scenarios. Investing in technology rather than looking at it as something that occasionally needs fixing can facilitate growth goals like remote access, expanded customer service, or server expansion.
Many small businesses and start-ups in Vermont want to give their staff the freedom and flexibility to work from home or, at a minimum, want to be able to access company data from outside the main office. Maybe they travel often for work, or just want to work from their home office from time to time. Business IT can help set up flexible options in a way that protects your data, assets, and workflow.
A business experiencing high call volume may want to upgrade to a hosted phone system, which allows them to direct calls to different locations, add phone lines, or seamlessly outsource customer service. In this example, investing in an expanded phone system would actually build the business over time because it allows for more customers to receive better customer service and shows them that you care about them and their patronage.
Well-planned IT holds everyone accountable—providers, vendors, customers, and employees. The proper IT systems can give you the reporting and analytics you need to make smart business choices, perpetuating your relationship with technology as a forward-moving investment machine.
Preparing for Future Growth
In addition to helping you make smart growth investments now, business IT planning can save you money down the road if you shift your perspective. Here’s an example: let’s say your server breaks or is overloaded, and you need to replace it. So, you do a one-to-one replacement because you have a break-fix approach to technology. Has anyone considered that your company is going through an expansion, or that you’re looking to grow your business over the next five years? The server you had was probably insufficiently powered to accommodate that growth. Sitting down with a business IT professional and having a thirty-minute conversation about your company’s future and coming up with a plan for technology that supports your business goals will impact your bottom line, shifting you away from the costly break-fix approach and toward using technology as an investment that grows your business.
You can apply this thought process to every aspect of business IT—computers, servers, phone systems, security, and even networking gear, like switches.
Don’t treat your IT as a blind walk in the woods. That’s only OK until you trip and fall and need an EMT. Most business owners don’t have the time to become an IT expert. But what you can do is develop a relationship with a business IT professional that can guide your walk through the woods and make sure you’re on the right path. Shifting away from the old approach to IT will help protect your company from costly worst-case scenario fixes and start planning for IT that supports and grows with your business.