When it comes to growth, every business is united in the need for one vital tool: a plan of action. Andy Warhol once said, “they always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself”, and these words ring true when making the leap from startup to SME and beyond.
In a world where technology dominates every facet of business – from internal processes to order fulfilment and service delivery – IT is a major facilitator of business growth. And, by paying close attention to the role of technology, IT services and platforms before embarking on your mission for expansion, your business can evolve sustainably, cost-effectively and painlessly.
So how do you know if your business is ready to expand? Here’s our definitive checklist to ensure IT is part of your growth plans.
1. You’re ready to scale-up
Business growth is rarely predictable. If you land a big client or hit a sudden peak in sales, you’ll need to scale-up quickly – and that’s where IT plays a vital role. Unlike on-premise IT, virtual services via the cloud give you access to secure servers and software as a service (or SaaS) for optimal performance at specific times. Along with easy scale-down options, your business growth can fluctuate organically without the risk of buying new hardware that could be redundant – and costly – a few months down the line.
2. Your security policy is in place
If your business handles sensitive data, or is subjected to strict industry regulations, you’ll need to get your security policy in place right now. As you grow, you can rest assured that your data is handled and stored according to best-practice guidelines – freeing-up your staff to focus on innovating and adapting as your business grows.
3. You have systems for remote working
One of the biggest challenges a business faces during times of growth is recruitment. While you need more staff to service your growing client list or customer base, employing new people full-time adds risk during times of uncertainty – which is why contractors and freelancers are vital to your staff mix.
Technology such as video conferencing and cloud-based project management tools allow you to work efficiently with talented contractors all over the world – giving you access to the best people, regardless of location. Likewise if your employees are working ‘on the road’ or from home, services such as Microsoft Lync or Skype ensure they can easily communicate with the rest of your team, no matter where they are.
Remote working technology is also a major cost-saver when it comes to meeting with clients, customers and stakeholders. Instead of meeting in-person – along with the inevitable time and travel costs – video conferencing allows you to hold virtual meetings without compromising on results.
4. Growth won’t impact customer service
As teams expand and staff roles change, it can be difficult to provide continually excellent levels of customer service. To avoid this pitfall, tools such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems allow you to provide those same levels of great service by storing customer details, logging calls, assigning tasks and setting reminders.
5. You have an IT team
As your business grows, your IT requirements will inevitably change – and that’s why you need a team to proactively manage your systems. Thankfully, this needn’t be costly. By working with an external IT provider, your growing business gets access to industry experts – including your own dedicated manager – without the cost of employing your own IT staff.
Is your business ready to put that growth plan into action?