From startups to enterprises, IT is at the root of almost every business process. As a small business begins to grow, the bootstrapped IT solutions that worked in the beginning can quickly contribute to losses in productivity, data security, and scalability. Tell-tale signs that the time is right to bring on an IT Managed Services Provider (MSP) include:
- When growth threatens to overwhelm the basic infrastructure put in place when a business was just starting out
- When employees spend more time troubleshooting technology problems than performing their core roles
- When the complexity inherent to compliance, data security, and/or integrations becomes unmanageable
In this article, we discuss these three transition points and touch upon the ways in which an IT Managed Services Provider can help.
When Growth Overwhelms the Hacks and Shortcuts
Startups often begin operations with slapdash solutions that are inexpensive and convenient. Success, however, necessitates a more formal IT infrastructure that can support ongoing growth. Let’s take a look at some common startup hacks which generally fail to hold up over time:
- Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) — BYOD is a great way to save money early on, but it simply isn’t scalable. In order for your company to succeed in the long-term, you will need an enterprise-quality, company-owned infrastructure: computers, servers (whether on-premise or cloud-based), and networking equipment — as well as up-to-date virus/malware protection, patching, etc.
- Software Shortcuts — Many startups push the envelope and use unlicensed, free, pirated, and/or other non-enterprise-grade software packages (or perfunctory spreadsheet-based alternatives). In terms of security, data protection, and risk, such shortcuts are pretty much guaranteed to cause trouble — and, perhaps, disaster. Further, they almost never scale.
- Self-Service IT — While handling IT issues in-house is easy enough for an early-stage startup with few pressures, things become increasingly overwhelming with growth. As technology demands multiply, employees frequently spend as much or more time on IT troubleshooting than they do on their actual jobs.
For businesses utilizing these types of shortcuts, it’s almost always better to make the changes sooner as opposed to later — and an outsourced IT provider is often the most cost-effective and scalable option available.
When Critical Employees Are Focused on the Wrong Things
Building on the last point in the section above, if primary decision-makers are spending an inordinate amount of time working on technology — diagnosing and fixing IT-related issues, making IT procurement decisions, and/or handling complex IT-related transitions — it becomes difficult for them to focus on other important areas of the business (management, growth, customer service, etc). Consider:
- Day-to-Day IT Management — Any business owner or office manager knows that IT infrastructure demands a lot of regular attention — especially if it is aged, undersized, and/or poorly-designed. But, even under the best of circumstances, things break: computers go bad, networks blip, printers fail, etc.
- IT Procurement — Procuring the right hardware and/or software for a business demands a heavy investment of time and other resources — and keep in mind that decisions are not always easy to reverse due to the costs associated with them.
- IT Transitions — Whether driven by growth, efficiency needs, or even physical office moves, IT-oriented transitions yield an entirely different level of complexity relative to day-to-day IT operations — and absorb even more time and other resources.
Outsourcing IT allows core decision-makers and employees to focus on their primary business goals, while providing the technology-based continuity, tools, and resources necessary to do so with confidence.
When Complexity Becomes Too Much
As businesses grow, their IT needs become increasingly complex — especially in compliance, security, and integration-heavy settings. Consider:
- Compliance — Many industries (finance, law, and healthcare especially) have rigid compliance requirements, which must be strictly maintained. An IT managed services provider can work with you to catalog and update a complete set of technology-related regulatory obligations — and make sure that you meet and/or exceed the resulting demands.
- Data Security — If your business maintains trade secrets, personal identifiable information (PII), credit card data, and/or other sensitive data, a great deal of risk exists, which must be managed. Outsourcing IT provides regular data, server, and application backups and endpoint protection to ensure that all of your critical information is and remains secure.
- Integrations — Integrations are an integral part of the IT environment for most growing businesses, and their existence has an outsized effect on complexity. IT managed services providers have the specialization and expertise necessary to adeptly oversee, anticipate, and troubleshoot the intricacies inherent to integrations, which allows for smoother and more efficient operations.
Though there are exceptions, for businesses that have reached a critical inflection point, outsourcing IT can very often save time, money, and stress. For more information, please feel free to contact us.