Sunday, November 20, 2011

Choosing IT solutions based on your business' size

IT is a complex domain. For a given problem, there'll always be a great number of solutions. Each solution has its pros, its cons and an associated budget. The choices to be made for a small business are far from obvious but here's some advice on how to take in account your business reality to your IT needs.

1- Don't base decisions solely on past experience
I often see small business decision makers suggest software or IT systems based on their previous experiences in larger businesses. Although a recommendation should not be ignored, its important to put it in context.

One of the most frequent examples is when choosing an Email system. Most large businesses have their own IT systems on which they install Microsoft Exchange. I'm not questioning the effectiveness of the system but the cost and effort required to install and maintain it for a small business. Not only do you need to have a server to install it, but you need to back it up, to maintain it, etc. Although it is a viable option, it is a lot more expensive and time consuming than getting a solution like Google Apps.

Small businesses can rarely afford the same tools as the big guys but the fact is, they usually don't need them: not only are they more expensive but they're also more complex and contain undesired functionality.

2- Start by optimizing the value-added departments
Every business must manage different departments: sales, marketing, accounting, operations, etc. Ideally, each department would be managed with the best IT systems available for the business size. Unfortunately, the reality is small businesses can't necessarily afford them all at once. In such situations, the business should prioritize the department IT migration based on the added value of the department in question.

For example, I usually recommend small businesses to start by optimizing their sales IT systems and software. Such systems can help businesses increase their sales so that the new profits can be invested in other departments systems. Another option is to improve the operations' efficiency by appropriate software and hardware solutions. This will allow the business to reduce their operations expenses and increase their profits.

3- Evolve progressively but quickly
Unless you have unlimited funds, its often difficult to change the whole IT infrastructure at once. As mentioned in the previous section, businesses should start by optimizing the departments that will most benefit the company. With these benefits, we can progressively improve the IT systems of every department in the company.

This being said, its important to note that you want to optimize your systems quicker rather than slower. The reason is the IT system's migration is usually harder as time goes by. Take for example an accounting system: migrating 5 or 6 years of data is usually much more complicated than 1. This being said there are more and more tools that ease IT migration, but when these tools do not exist, the migration can be quite expensive and time consuming.

A good small business manager will know the strengths and weaknesses of its business. He will also know his budget, financial status and overall reality. Most managers will therefore be tempted, rightly so, to invest in new technologies to improve the business' overall profitability and to insure its growth. To do so, one must make sure to invest in relevant tools in a progressive and efficient manner.

1 comment:

  1. These are some of the best IT solution to which one need to take into consideration, one should always think about these solution according to their business size and not beyond it.