Is Your IT Strategy Preventing Business Growth?
Are you looking to achieve business growth in the next 12 months? If so, it’s likely that you’ll be combining several different strategies to ensure your success. As your business evolves, your marketing techniques, operational processes and team structure will change too. But one area that many businesses overlook when planning for growth is IT.
It’s a common pitfall. Many businesses plan a period of growth but then hit a stumbling block along the way that keeps them stuck where they are. They might blame the marketing strategy or the sales team when the direction they should be looking is IT.
In this article, we’ll examine the signs that suggest your current IT strategy could be preventing business growth. We’ll also show you how an effective IT strategy can support you through a period of transformation.
Why it’s not ‘business as usual’ for IT during a growth period
As a company grows, many business owners assume their IT processes will tick along as before. But your IT systems impact every aspect of your business. That means if you want your business to grow, it’s essential that your IT strategy evolves too.
If you’ve tried to grow in the past but hit a stumbling block, you might be wondering where you went wrong. Rather than looking to the sales department or marketing team for answers, perhaps the place to look is IT.
An ineffective IT strategy can prevent business growth in several ways. Maybe some of these sound familiar:
- You’re so busy firefighting and dealing with daily IT issues, you can’t focus on your growth strategy.
- Your current IT systems are already at breaking point and it’s unlikely they’ll be able to cope with an increase in customers or sales.
- Staff are battling with IT issues and aren’t as productive as they could be. If they’re already struggling with their workload, cost-effective growth becomes impossible.
- You’re reliant on old IT systems and missing out on the opportunities advances in technology offer growing companies.
Take a step back to assess your IT strategy
If you want to grow your business, take a step back to ensure your IT systems are ready to support you through the period of change.
Here are eight signs your current IT strategy could prevent business growth
1. Activities are dependent upon specific individuals
Are there individuals in your business who have sole responsibility for certain processes? What happens if they are on holiday, or absent? Do things still operate smoothly or do other team members find it hard to step in at short notice? With an effective IT infrastructure and relevant training, it should be easy for other team members to take over when a colleague is away.
When people take ownership of certain processes, they become familiar with the software that supports those processes. When everything runs smoothly, there’s no cause for concern. But when the unexpected happens, it can be difficult for others to step in.
When staff don’t have access to systems or don’t understand how a piece of software works, it can create hours of frustration and additional work. It’s therefore essential to ensure key pieces of software are understood and accessible, even when a core team member is unavailable.
2. Your teams are duplicating effort
As a managed IT support provider in London, we often get asked how IT can help boost productivity. It’s a good question. Many businesses recruit extra staff to address increased workloads and yet the business still fails to grow. Why? Because, although they’re investing in extra staff, their teams are not working productively. Often this is due to a duplication of effort that could be solved with more efficient IT processes and automation.
It’s natural for IT systems to evolve over time but after a few years, businesses may find they have several systems, all doing similar things. You could find that the sales team and the accounts department are inputting the same data. Or the marketing team and customer relations are maintaining two separate databases. Not only does this result in a duplication of effort but can also result in confusion – for example, if a customer’s contact details are updated on one system but not on the other.
Internal reporting is another area where effort is often duplicated. Perhaps the finance team is generating reports to assess turnover while the sales department is tracking similar data. Bringing all the information into one system will not only save time for individuals but will bring clarity where currently there may be confusion.
3. People aren’t clear about their responsibilities
Do your teams have clear goals and know exactly what needs to be done, by when and by whom? Often, key tasks fall between the cracks because nobody takes ownership for the action. Repeated over time, these missed deadlines and forgotten tasks can seriously damage your business.
With a good collaboration tool, such as Microsoft Teams, you can bring clarity and transparency to your business. When used effectively, Microsoft Teams makes it easy for staff to see what actions need completing, along with clear deadlines, and responsibilities.
4. You’re using the same systems and processes you were five years ago
Often businesses adopt an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach when it comes to IT. If the systems are just about coping, it may seem like a major hassle to upgrade software or replace old hardware. But the reality is, if a system is several years old, chances are it’s holding your business back. Yes, it might be managing today. But what about next week? Or next year?
Don’t wait until the day your software or systems fail before you act. It’s far better to plan a managed software upgrade and get it right. The alternative is constantly responding to an emergency with a short-term fix that gets you by for another month – until next month rolls around.
Often, you’ll find that the investment in upgrading your systems pays for itself very quickly as your teams become more productive. And by working with a reliable managed IT support company in London, or elsewhere in the UK, you’ll be able to keep downtime to a minimum as you transfer seamlessly from one system to another.
5. Your IT team doesn’t understand the business
What kind of relationship does your IT department have with other teams within the business?
If you have an external IT support partner, how well do you feel they understand your business?
Your IT support shouldn’t be a bolt-on part of the business, or a team to call on only when things go wrong. Instead, they should be an integral part of the business. As technology advances, there will be new innovations you can take advantage of to help keep your business at the forefront of your industry. That means involving your IT team in your growth strategy discussions so they can offer ideas to help the business grow.
6. You’re making your business processes fit the capabilities of your IT systems
Have you ever had a good idea that would deliver significant business benefits only to find that your IT systems can’t support a new way of doing things? Are you having to bend your processes to fit your IT systems? Your IT strategy should support your business, not the other way around.
If your current systems aren’t supporting your business goals, they could be preventing you from fulfilling your potential for growth.
7. Staff seem frustrated
You might not immediately think that IT systems and staff retention are linked but battling with daily IT problems can quickly cause stress which in turn leads to staff seeking new opportunities. If your future growth relies on retaining your top talent, make sure your IT systems are making their working lives easier – not harder.
When new members of staff come into your business, take note of how they respond to your IT systems. If they express surprise that you’re using outdated IT systems, or they suggest a better way of doing things, don’t ignore them. Often people who have come from outside the business are best-placed to see where things can be improved as they’re not in the ‘this is the way we’ve always done things’ mindset.
8. Your IT issues and costs keep increasing
Do you seem to have more IT problems now than you did a few months ago? If so, it could be a sign that your IT infrastructure is failing. Over time, systems can begin to slow as hardware dates and software becomes outdated. If you’re planning a period of growth, it makes sense to factor in an upgrade programme. This will allow you to ensure your infrastructure is ready to support your growth ambitions.
Of course, if you’re dealing with more issues than before, it’s likely that your IT costs have risen too. The time and expense of dealing with these increased issues and costs could be holding your business back.
How to move forwards
If the points above have left you thinking that your current IT strategy might be one of the reasons your business has struggled to grow, there are several things you can do to get things moving again.
Here are a few of the steps you can take to prepare for business growth.
Find the right managed IT support company in London and beyond
If you’re not happy with your current IT support provider, it will be difficult to take the business forward with confidence. Finding the right IT support company, is the first step to achieving a successful IT strategy. If you’re based in the capital, it makes sense to find a reliable managed IT support provider in London. While many issues can be resolved remotely, it’s always good to be able to meet face-to-face whenever you need to.
Review your IT strategy
If your IT strategy is out-of-date (or perhaps non-existent), now is the time to get it into shape. Your IT support provider can help with this, creating a strategy that supports and protects your business, today and into the future.
Track the journey
Look at every step of your businesses processes from marketing to after-care. At every stage, IT should be helping to make the process easier. If at any stage you feel the current processes are a hindrance, it signals a potential for improvement.
Research best practice
The world of IT is constantly changing. Software and processes that were recommended a couple of years ago might not now be the best option for your business. A good IT support partner will let you know about advancements and opportunities.
Regular IT reviews
By putting these strategies in place, you can ensure your IT processes are ready to support your company as it grows.
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- Want to learn more about what the right IT support looks like? Check out this article on how to choose the best IT Support provider for your business.