Those who own or manage a small or medium-sized businesses might be tempted to think that the number of IT challenges should be commensurate with the size of the business. But those in the know will be quick to correct that assumption. In fact, as the list of challenges shifts and changes as technology evolves, it becomes clear that tackling IT for the small business owner is not a job for the faint of heart.
Our long-term experience with small and medium-sized organizations has helped us identify the most common and time-consuming IT challenges facing these organizations. Clearly, there are numerous IT challenges facing today’s small and medium-sized businesses, but we’ve boiled them down to the top 5 as follows:
1. When the number of IT options continues to grow, it becomes increasingly more difficult to have the range and depth of expertise needed to select, maintain and optimize the right IT solutions.
With a large and growing range of options available, you need the right tools and guidance to make the best IT decisions for your organization. It’s becoming more and more difficult to stay ahead of the innovation curve and make informed decisions. And managing infrastructure complexity is becoming more and more difficult. This is especially true for smaller organizations that have either a one-person or small IT team.
2. The “end of life” issue for hardware and software can introduce a series of costs, compliance and security risks to an organization.
End of life, when a product is no longer supported by its manufacturer, is a fact of life for all IT systems. But if not planned for properly, it can put a significant strain on budgets, time and effort. In addition, end of life can put an entire organization at serious risk. With last July’s end of support for Windows Server 2003, for example, organizations that had not migrated away from the platform by the deadline were exposed to security threats and regulatory mandates that were no longer addressed with patches and updates.
3. IT budgets and staffing levels aren’t increasing, but the workload is.
Information technology is resource-dependent in terms of requiring time, people, equipment and funding. It takes all of these resources to effectively and efficiently manage systems, maintain compliance, respond to problems, providing end-user support and complete IT-related projects. For any given organization, the range of business applications continues to grow not shrink. And this puts more and more pressure on IT people and systems to deliver the latest and greatest. But if an organization is working with older IT equipment, it may not have the flexibility or horsepower to deliver new capabilities— which means delivering new functionality many require an IT upgrade. Moreover, managing this range of tasks effectively requires a team of IT professionals that are often outside the financial means of smaller organizations.
4. Having the right amount of scalability and flexibility to ensure your organization’s IT system can meet changing business requirements is a constant balancing act.
An IT system that is size-appropriate now may not be in the future, especially if your organization is on a fast growth path or is data-intensive. This means you need to be able to choose the right system that delivers the capacity you need today but can meet tomorrow’s expansion needs. At the same time, you need to ensure you’re not over-specifying and paying for more capacity than you need.
5. Integration with an increasing number of applications and technologies is complicated and time-consuming.
As you add more and more applications and provide more and more services, integration with existing systems and infrastructure becomes more complex. The challenge is ensuring that applications work together (or at the very least, don’t conflict), and ensuring adequate security across board—at a level that meets your obligations and protects your business.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed just listening to just the top 5 challenges, don’t despair. Overcoming these and other IT challenges to support the long-term success of your business is not entirely out of your reach. The best advice is to be prepared to meet the challenges head-on. Anticipate the need for flexibility and scalability in your infrastructure; then look to a Managed IT Services partner to fill the gaps in expertise as well as shoulder some of the burden of day-to-day system management, maintenance and security.
To explore how your organization can reap the benefits from Managed IT Services partnership, contact the experts at Advanced Network Systems for a free initial consultation and financial analysis.