Improving the Efficiency of Your Business with Better IT
Your office depends on technology to get through the day. You use your phones to call prospects, clients and team members. You’re constantly on your computer, using the internet and sharing information. You’re running the command center of your business from your office, plugged in. Technology is critical, but is your technology running as efficiently as it can?
We’ve got some tips for improving your business’s efficiencies through better, more thoughtful IT solutions that can save you money.
Tip 1: Assess Your Business IT Alignment
Business IT Alignment is basically a fancy term for “does your technology support your business processes to help you achieve your goals?”
We’ve seen businesses get bogged down by their overcomplicated IT systems. We’ve also seen businesses limit employees with lack of updated technology.
For Netsafe clients, we always start with an assessment. Here’s an example:
A prospect came to us with a vision for his business. He wanted an office his team could use for client meetings, private workspaces, brainstorming sessions and project work. He wanted a hub for all of his employees to come into work and be productive. To facilitate this, he wanted this huge technology infrastructure to support all of the work he and his team would be doing.
As we talked to him and his team about this visionary office, we started picking up on some red flags for his plan. When we asked about their day-to-day tasks to assess what hardware and systems they might need, his staff, entirely consultants, explained tasks that were mostly performed out of the office. It sounded like they were spending all of their time out in the field, at their clients’ facilities or working remotely.
We found that the boss wanted everyone in the office, but that wasn’t the most effective way for his team to be productive. And essentially, if we did build this decked out office system for the company, they would never use it. So we minimized the plan to fit their real day-to-day needs out of the office - a plan very different from what we originally intended for them.
Whether you are setting up a new office or optimizing your existing business IT situation, make sure you are being realistic and aligning your technology needs with your business processes.
- What technology do you already have and use?
- What are your team’s technology pain points in the office?
- How much growth do you want to accomplish, and what systems need to be in place to accommodate that?
Tip 2: Simplify Your IT Systems
Now that you’ve assessed your business IT needs, what are you really using and what do you need? If your team isn’t using the equipment or software you have or they don’t understand the process behind the technology in place, maybe you have the wrong IT. Simplifying your technical setup can make everything more efficient. Fewer workarounds mean fewer problems.
Can you consolidate redundant services?
Is your mail server maxed out and you are facing a very expensive capital investment? What if instead, you used a program like Office 365 where you pay per user and benefit from other bundled offerings like SPAM filtering, personal cloud storage and archiving? If you make the switch, then you don’t have to pay for the expensive upgrade and SPAM service. Now instead of multiple bills for your email coming in each month, you only have one, it’s cheaper in the long run and is offered on a per-user basis, so it grows with you.
Can you get rid of unused equipment and services?
Are you holding on to some old laptops or servers? Maybe you’ve got old battery back-up devices that don’t even work, outdated Ethernet switches, old phone systems, previous Internet providers modems still in your office?
Don’t let your old equipment take up space.
If space isn’t your concern, is cost? We’ve seen clients change equipment or vendors and never truly disconnect their old service. We’ve seen multiple internet connections at one office because the old service had never been shut off. When you make a technology change at your office, confirm that you really cut ties with your old provider and promptly remove the old hardware. Most importantly make sure to cancel their bill.
Tip 3: Make Your IT Team Accessible
Whether you have one IT employee, an entire in-house department or you outsource your IT completely, your IT service provider should be accessible when you are having a technology issue.
Make sure you are doing monthly and quarterly reviews with your IT team.
Communication is key. With regular check-ins, you and your IT team can be on the same page. This way you both have a running to-do list managing expectations, goals, budget and action items. What has your IT department been up to? What has your IT staff accomplished this month? Where is the budget going? Where are there opportunities for improvement? Are they aligned with your business strategy?
This leads to better accountability and more efficient practices. You should always be aware of your IT department’s budget and spending. Do you have the right equipment for your business’s needs? Do you have the right amount of equipment for the staff you have? Make sure your budget is going towards the needs you outlined in your original assessment. Everything should have a purpose.