Avoiding the IT Pitfalls of Fast Business Growth

Executive Summary

  • Fast growth may seem fantastic for business, but without involving IT at the planning stage it’s likely to cause major headaches along the way.
  • Giving IT a knowledgeable voice on the board can be a game changer in making IT an asset to your operation.
  • Utilising Cloud and a Managed Service Provider can free up your IT teams to focus on adding value to the business.

 

Business growth is usually a goal across most industries, so growing too fast might be seen from the outside as a “nice problem to have”.

But anyone who’s been in the situation of unprecedented & significant fast growth knows this can be an incredibly stressful and challenging time for businesses. The fear of being unable to handle customer demands and the potential reputational damage caused by letting people down can be more of a burden than a gift.

Of course, the opportunity of rapid growth is often too good to refuse, despite the headaches that may come with it. So, whether by organic growth, acquisition or merger, how can businesses survive the “nice problem” of rapid growth for their IT? Again, it all boils down to people, strategy & partnerships.

 

Getting and keeping the right people on (the) board

It’s hardly a fascinating insight that having the right people working on the same team as you can change the world and make everything in your world a lot easier than it would be otherwise. However, with IT things can get muddled up when it comes to staff and growth for several reasons.

First, a lack of a knowledgeable IT voice in the boardroom can be a true hinderance to organisation’s growing faster than their technology will allow. IT is too important to your business to ignore at board level, and it needs to be a solid part of your strategy from day one.

With fast growing companies, IT teams can often turn into the resident business firefighters that can only try their hardest to resolve issues, rather than working on procedures and processes that could stop these fires from starting. Sadly, it’s a common problem that IT teams aren’t given the proper resources to work on companywide issues, and this issue can usually be traced back to the planning stage.

Likewise, it’s important to make sure the person in charge of your IT has solid business understanding and can support the overall strategic aims of the organisation. As technology is such an imperative component of your business operations, a knowledgeable voice in the boardroom is an essential asset for every business which is often overlooked. And remember; the best technical person isn’t always the best technical manager.

Ask yourself; who owns IT at a board level?

 

Plugging Experience Gaps

It’s important to take stock of your current staff, their capabilities, and any blatant gaps in your team that really need to be filled before you get caught out by growing too fast or performing an uncomfortable and tricky merger. Many organisations that are growing have a highly skilled “jack of all trades” that’s responsible for everything semi-tech related, such as the firewall, databases, the website, and everything in between. As much as their generalist skills may have been perfect for you in the past, as their remit expands significantly, it may be time to break these responsibilities into separate roles in order to get the best from your staff.

IT in a business should be designed in a business to enable your staff to excel. As you grow, so will your support tickets, and any delay in response or quality can result in a big hit on your ability to run your business effectively.

This is a good time to look at your company’s support requirements as your head count grows and systems become more complex. Outsourcing your technical support and allowing internal IT teams to focus on adding value to the business through improvement projects can be a lifesaver as your business needs develop, providing proven technical expertise for the issues you face. An experienced Managed Service IT support can scale with your business and can be a stable and reliable support resource as people come and go in your IT teams.

Read more about specialist IT managed services by checking out some of our case studies.

 

The Tech to Keep Things Running

Next, let’s take a proper look at the company’s boiler room, i.e. the software and hardware that makes everything you do possible. Growing too fast can cause your infrastructure to creak and struggle much earlier than you may imagine, which is why it’s imperative to properly consider your technical needs at the planning stage.

Like we’ve mentioned already, IT should be a distinguished value of a business, and not a resented cost. Broken IT processes are exactly the sort of thing that leads to resentment in the organisation. If something is broken, users tend to try to find a workaround rather than fix the problem as it seems like the easier solution at the time, but this can create mass inefficiencies across the board, not to mention poor habits and practices. It’s IT’s job in an organisation to facilitate, not block productivity. Spending time understanding how users use their tech will help you understand what’s needed for their workloads.

Upgrading IT systems at short notice is a big challenge, especially on a tight budget, so there will always be an element of managing expectations. Promising the world and delivering an atlas is never going to be a successful strategy for supporting your business’ goals and is likely only going to frustrate users across the board. Every business has unique requirements in terms of technology, so sit down and plan what technology you need to fulfil company objectives. Will a centralised database work or are you better going for a localised structure? Do your sites have access to suitable bandwidth? Cover the big issues in the planning stage before you get caught out with tools that are inadequate for your operation.

Of course, things don’t always go to plan. Systems and hardware can fail, as well as the huge security risk of ransomware in 2018; a backup and Disaster Recovery solution is imperative to get you back on your feet. Disaster Recovery can take days with inadequate Business Continuity planning, so taking care of this should be a board level priority. To solve this issue, we recommend Datto, a DRaaS (Disaster Recovery as a Service) solution that can recover your business systems either in the Cloud or on-prem in as little as 5 minutes. To learn more about Datto, click here.

 

Cloud can be the answer

Cloud isn’t the answer to everything, but it can be the answer to most things, especially in a growing company.

As your business scales, so too will the demand on your infrastructure, software and platforms. Cloud provides efficient scalability for your needs, all for a reliable/predictable recurring cost, generally without any hidden surprises. It’s not always the cheapest option in the long term, but Infrastructure, Software, and Platform as a Service solutions (IaaS, SaaS, PaaS) are becoming increasingly popular and competent at keeping things in business running smoothly.

Don’t assume that Cloud will solve all your problems, but it’s likely it can solve a lot of them. Consider Cloud solutions before going down the expensive capex route.

We’ve spoke before about considering if your business would really benefit from being in the Cloud. Click here to read our blog.

 

Make Sure to Be Empathetic & Understanding

Above all, understanding your staff, their strengths, weaknesses and capacity will benefit your IT planning for growth. It can be far too easy to rubbish something when your people have done the best they can possibly do with their available resources and time.

If you’re already with an MSP, it could just be that you’ve outgrown their capabilities and it’s time to move on to someone who specialises in your industry. What’s worked for you in the past might not necessarily work for you in the future. Moving on doesn’t need to be painful, in fact we make it our mission for it to be as painless as possible.

Get in touch if you’d like to chat about your specific business needs.

Posted by Jordan Maciver on Friday, March 9, 2018

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