Think big but start small when it comes to IT

Finance appear bigger

March 01, 2013

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The pace of information technology development is so fast these days it’s no wonder that some small business owners worry about being left behind. But you don’t have to be. It’s true that IT can be baffling for the non-technical, but there is plenty of specialist help out there.

Here’s the secret of effective IT use: it’s all about making IT serve the needs of your business. Too many small firms have stumbled in the past because they’ve invested in IT like everybody else, but with no clear idea of what they’re going to do with their new kit.

“Businesses need to make sure they are taking a look at the bigger picture when it comes to IT and how it fits into their overall plan”, says Jacqui Stoggall, director of consulting at Sovereign Business Integration Group.

This means business owners really do need to take time out to consider how IT can improve their business. They should start by asking themselves how IT could improve areas such as service to customers, marketing and sales, financial management, or office administration.

Thinking about potential contribution of IT in each of these areas helps to focus the mind on how technology can deliver real business benefits. When it’s clear how IT can help – and only then – is it time to start looking for the most effective systems.

“Take a look at all the options,” advises Stoggall. “Don’t just settle for one company that sounded impressive at a trade show or networking event.” Choosing the most recent system on the market isn’t always the best option either as it may still have glitches.

Another key issue when buying an IT system is the total cost of ownership rather than the initial headline price. Stoggall warns that hidden costs may only become apparent during or after the system’s installation. “These can often significantly weaken the business case for the system,” she says.

So the secret of getting good value from IT – as one IT specialist puts it – is to think big, but start small and deliver benefits fast. This way everyone in the business can see that the money spent on IT is working hard to make the company as a whole more successful.