Information technology (IT) either disappears into the background, because it's always working well, or it comes at you in a disruptive fashion. Hearing an employee say "The server's down", or "I can't get to the Internet", or "I think my PC has a virus", can cause business owners to cringe.
Hopefully, you're not worrying about "When did we last do a backup of our critical data?" or "I wonder if we have a working firewall on our network?".
When it comes to technology, business owners intuitively know it's needed, but they're typically not comfortable with it, and they believe it's usually going to cost them money. What's worse is that many business owners feel jaded by an experience with an IT consultant who recommended or sold them something that caused harm.
So where does a business owner start and end with technology? And what's the best way to ensure you have the technology that will make you money, and not cost your business in lost time or adding dysfunction to your organization?
Here's a tip – Before engaging with an IT provider, make sure you have a firm grasp on the processes and metrics that you need to run your company. Are key processes and metrics documented and understood by those that use them?
That may seem counterintuitive - after all, many businesses rely on IT systems to get reports and supply metrics. My point is this - IT shouldn't be considered a fix. It only enables good business ideas and well thought-out business methodology. If the process is broken, enabling it with IT will only make the situation worse.
Here's another tip – If your IT provider isn't asking questions about your business methodology and the metrics that are driving the business, you should be looking elsewhere. Good IT people understand their role is to identify and enable the leverage points to improve business process.
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