Are you looking to achieve business growth in the next 12 months? If so, you’ll likely combine several strategies to ensure 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 that keeps them stuck. They might blame the marketing strategy or the sales team when the direction they should be looking for is IT.
This article will examine the signs suggesting your current IT strategy could prevent 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 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 technological advances 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 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 specific 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 adequate 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 specific processes, they become familiar with the software that supports them. When everything runs smoothly, there’s no cause for concern. But it can be difficult for others to step in when the unexpected happens.
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 critical 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, 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, 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 it can also confuse – 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 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, when, and by whom? Often, critical tasks fall between the cracks because nobody takes ownership of the action. Repeated over time, these missed deadlines and forgotten tasks can seriously damage your business.
With a good collaboration tool like 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 precise 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 to IT. If the systems are just about coping, upgrading the software or replacing old hardware may seem like a major hassle. 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 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 the next month rolls around.
You’ll often find that upgrading your systems pays for itself 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 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? Do you have 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 prevent you from fulfilling your growth potential.
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, leading to staff seeking new opportunities. If your future growth relies on retaining your top talent, ensure your IT systems are making their working lives more manageable – not more complicated.
When new staff members come into your business, please note how they respond to your IT systems. If they express surprise that you’re using outdated IT systems or suggest a better way of doing things, don’t ignore them. People from outside the business are often 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 signal that your IT infrastructure is failing. Over time, systems can slow as hardware dates and software become 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, your IT costs have likely risen too. The time and expense of dealing with these increased issues and costs could hold 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 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 challenging 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, finding a reliable managed IT support provider in London makes sense. While many issues can be resolved remotely, meeting face-to-face whenever you need to is always good.
- Review your IT strategy
If your IT strategy is out-of-date (or perhaps non-existent), it is time to get it into shape. Your IT support provider can help create a strategy that supports and protects your business today and into the future.
- Track the journey
Look at every step of your business’s 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 recommended a couple of years ago might not 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.
- If you’re considering switching from your current IT support provider, contact us or call us on 020 7101 0544.
- Discover more about our London-based IT support services