Christopher Lentz | June 25, 2014 02:44 PM
For as long as I have been in the IT business I can recall almost every CFO and accounting person stating that IT was nothing more than an expenditure on their books. While that may be the case for some businesses, for the majority of businesses today their IT provides them with the very funding that they bring in month after month. I know it is hard to see the forest for all the trees, but take a step back and think about your business, no matter what it is, and try to imagine it without any IT. None. Not a single computer, the internet, etc. How hard would you have to work to get sales now? Would your business survive without IT? For about 99.999% of businesses I bet the answer is NO. So how do we learn to empower our businesses through the use of great technology and infrastructure?
The first thing to do in order to allow yourself to begin seeing IT in a different light is to remove from your mind the idea that IT is just another expense on your books. When you use this kind of language about something it makes it true in your own mind. This can be very limiting and could cause you potential loss down the road. For example, lets say that you refer to IT as an expense and one day you tell your team that you want to leverage new technology to get ahead of your competition. What do you think will limit your ability to get ahead? Budget. When you think of IT as an expense, your budget for IT tends to be dramatically smaller and thus you can't buy the best technology to accomplish your business goals.
After you have change the way you think about IT, you can really start to make some changes for the better. Let's take an example we see at almost every small business we talk to. Usually when we first assess a new small business we find that their server is often under powered and out of date. There are dozens if not hundreds of issues with these two seemingly simple things. An under powered server can cause delays when accessing files in shared folders, opening programs, and even serving up internet pages (if your server is handling DNS). An out of date server can be more prone to virus attacks, unstable drivers, unstable hardware, and so much more. Let's try an exercise to help you see the value in up-to-date hardware and software.
First, go to the one user in your organization that complains the most about their computer being slow. Ask them about how much time they spend waiting each day for programs to load, files to open, etc. Next, I want you to take the hourly rate of your median employee and multiply it by the number of hours your problem child user gave you. I'm going to guess that you are surprised by the size of that number...and if you are not, you should be! That is the wasted money and lost productivity as a result of not leveraging IT properly for your business.
Now that you can see the real value of IT in your business, let's talk about what pieces of the puzzle bring you the most bang for your hard earned bucks! There are some variations here but for most businesses these 3 items are the most critical in making your business run at a top-notch speed and efficiency. First, is the server or servers. The server is the brain center of your network and it controls so many pieces of your technology so it should be no shock that it is first on the list. A powerful server can allow you to leverage more applications, more users, and more data. This gives power and productivity back to your users and allows them to work more effectively. The second item is your network switch. A powerful and managed Gigabit switch can really change the speed of your network and improve the rate at which your users can open applications, files, and even send and receive emails. Finally, look into getting a strong disaster recovery plan in place. Sometimes users delete or move entire folders by accident, if you have a way to recover the files you are fine but if not you might be in serious trouble. Another great part of a great disaster recovery plan is being able to get your operation back up and running in the event that your entire business location is wiped from the face of the planet by mother nature or worse.
We know this is a lot to take in but we think it was finally time that someone came out and said it. IT is not your financial enemy anymore. Your new allies are ready and waiting to help grow your business to new heights. Take the reigns back and join them in the fight against your competition!