As an entrepreneur, I understand the importance of investing in the right technology tools for the business because it is a long-term investment that affects how your team will perform. My career revolves around helping clients choose the right solutions and plan IT strategies for them to enjoy a peace of mind. With the right technology, they can focus fully on generating profits.
Here are 4 factors to consider while choosing the right tools for your business.
1. Team Structure
It is likely that your team is working on a decentralised structure as most employees are now telecommuting due to COVID-19. You will need to invest in cloud storage and cloud systems enable remote working. This doubles up as good practice for disaster recovery and can be included as part of Business Continuity Planning. You may need different systems depending on the needs of each department.
All business will need storage. Many of our clients prefer NAS (network-attached storage) that serve as private cloud storage. It is largely similar to public cloud storage like Google Drive, Dropbox or One Drive except that they know exactly where their data is stored and they do not have to pay monthly licence fees. You may want to consider these other factors when implementing work-from-home solutions.
2. Age of your existing systems
If you are a start-up, you’re lucky to have a wide variety of choices that simplifies your decision making process. Choose a cloud software based on function and budget and get onboarded. You will need to review it only when your team expands if there are other competitors offering new features that suit your needs better.
Select a well-reviewed solution for your industry according to your needs. Some standard software that most companies need perform accounting, storage, email, project management, digital signing, HR, CRM or ERP functions.
If you have been in business for a while, some of the systems that you use could be traditional server-based software that require on-premise servers or a physical server hosted in a data centre. While these software may remain usable for many years, I highly recommend reviewing the infrastructure every three years to check if there are more efficient systems. During this time, you can review the health of the servers as most only have a 3-year warranty. Rather than repurchasing a new server to replace an aging server, consider moving onto a cloud system for a more efficient way of managing usage.
The three year benchmark helps you to compare the maintenance costs of keeping old software running with new hardware and the costs of shifting onto a cloud system where individual user licences are required. In scenarios where companies are required to retain legacy software either due to high initial investment costs or niche functions, I recommend virtualising the system.
My team has helped clients publish their non-cloud based legacy software onto web browsers using NuWorkspace to allow greater accessibility. This has helped our clients derive extended usage of their previous investment while modernising it. Another advantage is the time saved as no data migration or user training is required.
Our virtualisation solution has resulted in cost savings a client of ours. Publishing their customised accounting system onto the web allowed their accountant to access data keyed in by the factory located in Indonesia online instead of having to fly down monthly to settle accounts.
The main idea is to save your employees’ time and minimise manual work. Reviewing your business in a different light. Take note of where all the manual work and problems are reoccurring, as well as the areas that are prone to human errors. Can these be processes be automated? Reviewing the systems used every 3 years will help to close this gap and improve the business operations.
3. Compliance and Control
With the emphasis of security and compliance, you need to know if your selected software solution is compliant to security standards like ISO27001 or GDPR. This prevents you from having to switch systems after implementation if they do not follow security standards. Some companies still prefer to have their own equipment or customised software for full control over the security implementation of the structure.
4. Cost Structure
One of the most crucial factors for all businesses, technology investment can be risky. If you invest on the right solution, you can reap the many benefits of having an efficient team and error-free operations, which translates to increased productivity.
Costing is simple. Either pay full price upfront for customised software and hardware, or via subscription. Both systems have their pros and cons. If you expecting fast growth or your team members to change frequently, I would recommend using a cloud solution and paying per user for more flexibility. If your team is stable with similar workload predicted for next three years, investing in your own hardware and software may be the more economical choice in the long run.
In conclusion, there are many solutions out there in the market. The only way to invest correctly is to write down your needs, stock take on your equipment and solutions, work out a budget and understand your own business growth.