As a SME business specialist we have been providing outsourced IT support services to SMEs and growing businesses in APAC since 1996.
Over this time we regularly come across the same, repeated concerns facing SME management. Regardless of business sector, the same challenges continue to crop up.
Here, in priority order, is my list of the 8 biggest issues together with the impacts on the SME management.
How many of the following do you grapple with?
1. Who manages your IT?
The issue: Managing IT in an SME environment under 200 users is not a full time job, so who does it?
When you have 10,000 doing it is easy – you have an IT Director with a fully staffed IT department to cater to all IT requirements. When you have 10 (or 100) staff, it’s a much more difficult question:
(a) If you do it yourself [assuming that you are fully up-to-date in the IT field] this takes time, and that means time away from building your core business to do it.
(b) If one of your staff members does it [assuming they are sufficiently ‘up’ with IT to provide support] they also lose valuable time and that distracts them and diminishes their core value to your business?
(c) If you have a guy come in as and when needed to deal with problems on a one-off basis – this is fine when dealing with the “known knowns” – BUT how do you deal with the “unknown unknowns”? How do you deal with the problems that you don’t know about, like security, malware protection, data leakage?
2. The true cost of “one-off” support
The issue: The one-off approach to individual IT support issues leaves many holes and doubts AND it is expensive!
The impact: You have a problem, for example User A can’t print, so you get external technical support to come in and fix it. He updates the printer software and gets User A printing and leaves. BUT, the very next day, Users B & C can’t print either, so you call him back in again for yet another fix ….AND yet another fee!
Our over-reliance on one-off support means that you do not have the consistency and cost efficiency of a centralised and holistic approach that would instead install printers centrally, and roll out appropriate changes and updates to all users via a centralised policy.
3. Can you can trust your external IT support? [How do you KNOW?]
The issue: Dealing with IT support and maintenance is (for most of people) the same as dealing with car maintenance. It’s OK with the “known knowns” e.g. a printer isn’t working/a tire is flat, BUT how do you deal with the “unknown unknowns”? How you we deal with the problems that you don’t know about, like security, malware protection, data leakage?
(a) You are exposed by your lack of knowledge, and this is a big exposure for you. For example, you bring in external IT support to solve a problem and yet they break other components…
(b) You can’t determine whether quotes to repair/upgrade are valid, realistic and appropriate…
4. How do you know what needs to be upgraded or replaced? [AND where and when?]
The issue: IT systems do not last forever so how do you determine what/where/when needs to be replaced or upgraded?
The impact: Because you do not have the knowledge and understanding of expected technology life cycles plus you do not have an IT Director to devise and execute a plan to change/upgrade/refresh – we are exposed to the core business impacts of software and hardware failures. This is a major risk and exposure to your core business.
5. Are you protected? [How do you KNOW?]
The issues: Threats to IT information assets come from many sources – malware, hardware failure, hacking, employee mistake and deliberate sabotage. How do you know that you are protected?
(a) How do you ensure that you have current and continual protection across all fronts to ensure your data is not lost or compromised?
(b) How do you ensure that organisational information assets are NOT stored on only one key staff member’s laptop, but are stored centrally for all users to access, AND properly backed up and recoverable?
The impact: Because you do not know what you do not know, you are at considerable, and potentially catastrophic, risk in each of these areas. This is because you do NOT have a consistent, holistic strategy and implementation to protect your business across all of these areas.
6. How do you maximise ROI on your IT investments?
The issue: You know that as an SME you need to use every resource available, and you also know that IT can be a key enabler in business development and productivity – but you don’t know how to do it.
The impact: Because you are too small to have an IT Director:
(a) You are unable to ensure that you are making the most of your IT investments?
(b) You do not know how to choose a technology direction and platform to support your core business direction.
7. Do you have a backup? [How do you KNOW you can recover the data?]
The issue: Statistics show that 60% of backups are incomplete, and 50% of restores failed. You have a back up strategy but because you do NOT regularly test your strategy you can not be 100% sure you are able to recover your data in the event of a major disaster or loss.
The impact: You accept that having a backup strategy is a good first-step, but you recognise that your failure to regularly test your recovery strategy leaves you massively exposed on recovering your business critical data in the event of a crunch.
8. Are you wasting money on licenses?
The issue: Put simply, are you over-licensed? You understand that under-licensing can result in criminal prosecution for you as directors, so you continue to buy software, as you are unable to conclusively determine just how many licenses you may have already purchased.
The impact: Your inability to determine just how many licenses you already have means that you are wasting too much money on procuring licenses for software.
If you would like to discuss these issues and what it means for your business, please get in touch. Since inception in 1996, PASR Technologies has been providing SME business owners with a level of service and support to the SME business owner that is typically only directly available in very large organisations.
Servicing businesses from 10 to up to 200 employees, our clients range from local SMEs through to regional offices of larger MNCs, and include airlines.
At PASR Technologies, we solve your IT problems before you even realize you have one!