Ideas to get your business on target

Ideas to get your business on target

IT Strategy for the SME Sector

Tags: , , , , , , Process Design, Strategy, Strategy4IT

Municipio de Copacabana My inspiration for this blog comes from speaking with a contact of mine who is working with the finance area of a medium-sized services company in London. What he told me provides an enlightening view on the craziness that one can so easily find in smaller enterprises when it comes to managing IT solutions.

The company is fairly sizeable with over a hundred people and so has its own financial management software and runs its own email.  Like many companies of a similar size, it has, for all sorts of reasons, its own IT hardware sitting in a small rack in a separate area of their office.  Ask a few simple questions, and it becomes pretty clear that here is a disaster waiting to happen!

The whole conversation started because their accounting system was overflowing with attachments. Someone had the bright idea of saving space by printing all of the obsolete receipts from 4 or 5 years ago to keep them for the regulators and free up all that space to improve performance on the system. (I won’t patronise you by comparing the cost of the ink to the cost of a backup disk or tape!) So I asked a few basic questions: Is the whole system is backed up? No. What happens in the event of a disaster? Nobody has thought of that! No tape backups, no disk backups, no management of the capacity, no security monitoring, no email screening, dare I go on……..

This is so typical of SMEs that run their own IT. Whether they have a small or one-man-band IT team or they outsource the basic help desk functions, time and again we find no sensible measured and planned approach to the company IT strategy.  They spend time and energy managing their financials and sales, but forget that the whole thing relies on the solid foundation of good IT processes and systems. They are happy to pay lawyers and accountants for professional services, but skimp on decisions about part of their key foundations. It’s like owning a car and never having it serviced.

Consider that the company could put their servers in an off-site data centre and at least then they could ensure that everything would be monitored and backed up. Better still, why own the servers at all, why not lease a managed service (otherwise known as IaaS and PaaS) and do away with any worries about hardware and operations. Step up again and you could have the whole IT services consumed by that kind of company on the cloud (SaaS in technical speak).  Rather than use their in-house accounting package they could be buying cloud services from a provider like www.kashflow.com, their time-sheets and time planning could be in software like www.timesheet.com and their email could be in Google Apps. If they need bespoke development of specific functions cloud based service companies like www.pengower.com can even tailor software to do exactly what an SME needs.  No more servers, no more backups, no more software, just pay for the services you need.

Either way a simple review by www.strategy4IT.com can help!

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