As you progress from startup, to small business, to medium sized business you’ll likely experience some growing pains. Frequently those are related to technology. We call them the 6 stages of IT support grief.
None of them except for the last are good for your business. We’ll share our observations and what you can do to avoid these common pitfalls.
The Do It Yourselfer
We love entrepreneurs that are filled with grit and energy and know how to solve problems. They frequently wear many hats in a small startup organization, and IT is sometimes one of them. Normally they don’t know much about IT, but they’re smart enough that they can google how to do things.
This type of bootstrap methodology allows them to meet the basic technology needs of the business for a short time. Frequently business owners will find themselves spending more and more of their time doing mundane technology tasks. At some point along that journey, they realize that their time is better spent elsewhere, and go in search of a solution to take IT support off their plate.
The Buddy System
One thing we’ve observed that is common with small and medium businesses is the “buddy system”. This is where a business owner hires a buddy to do his IT. Maybe you have a friend that knows computers or get referred to your wife’s nephew who’s a “techie”. They get hired to come in and help you get your technology set up.
This works kind of OK when things are small. Your buddy jury rigs something of a network together and makes it so you can share files. You have things set up enough while you can operate and you’re off to the races. It’s not perfect, but you have what you need for now.
As the business scales the solutions put in place struggle to do so. There is more support needed, and your “buddy” is only available Tuesday nights after he gets off his “real job”. Things start to break and age, and there isn’t anyone that is proactively looking after the network.
As the company continues to grow, you hire a new purchasing manager or accountant, or operations manager. They fix a printer for Sue one time, and suddenly they are the office tech guru. We call these guys and “accidental techie”. Folks who were hired for a job that has nothing to do at all with IT Support suddenly find themselves spending a good portion of their time fixing printers and dealing with other problems.
As the company grows this takes up more and more of their time. Their original job role suffers as they start spending 10-20 hours a week working on supporting the network. It shouldn’t take that long, but because they aren’t an IT professional, they spend 3-4 times as long as a professional would to solve an issue. However, they’re a team player, so they try to help their coworkers and do as much as they can to keep up on the job they were originally hired for as well. Absence from their original job function costs the company money, and they frequently get overwhelmed.
At some point along this journey (every business experiences IT grief differently) there will be a catastrophic event. The server will crash. The data with get encrypted in a ransomware attack. A fire will strike the building where all you servers are. Something bad will eventually happen. It’s not really a question of if, but when.
On that terrible day, you’ll realize that you or your buddy, or your accidental techie only took a backup of the data once. That was 2 years ago, and that data is now corrupted. You scramble to know what to do. There is panic, and business comes to a screeching halt.
OK, maybe it’s not always quite that dramatic, but it frequently is. At some point there is a triggering event that will make the business owners stop and realize that they need professional help. Hopefully, they come to that realization before a disaster, but they frequently don’t.
Admitting You Need Help
You know how they say that admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery? Well admitting you need a professional to support your business IT network is the first step to technology happiness.
You’ve tried to do it yourself and found it to be a huge drain on your time. You need it off your plate so you can focus your time on growing the business and other strategic activities.
The company has grown to a point where you can’t wait till every other Tuesday after hours when your buddy can come and help. It’s not a scalable solution, and he isn’t around enough to do needed maintenance and help prevent disasters.
Your accidental techie is having way too much time taken away from the job they were hired for. They don’t enjoy IT Support, and it’s making them hate coming to work. They don’t have the skills of knowledge to handle larger or more complex problems, and they don’t know enough to be an effective strategic planner for IT.
It’s finally time to get an IT professional in here so we can refocus on growth fix this huge mess and let them worry about the network and supporting our users.
Acceptance and Progress
Today is the day. You’ve finally identified a new IT provider and they come to help you after the big event. They recover your data. They find security holes you didn’t know you had. They put a real backup solution in place for your data.
You find yourself having to rebuy a lot of technology. Because of the evolving nature of your network and business there wasn’t much thought or planning put into things. Unfortunately, that means you end up paying for a bunch of stuff twice as proper business class solutions are put in place. What you had originally doesn’t scale or isn’t compatible with your needs today.
Finally, everything is up and running. You have a professional partner that responds quickly to your support requests. No more waiting for every other Tuesday. They proactively monitor your network so that you can avoid any future catastrophic events. They manage backups and security.
You and your staff can be more productive than ever. You refocus your efforts and continue to grow the business. Your business technology is finally to a good place, and it helps you grow.
Skip Some Steps
Every business is different with how it grows and the technology that it uses. Maybe some part of this resonated with you as a business owner or c level, or perhaps you find yourself in one of those stages currently.
The good news is that you can skip some steps. IT grief is a lot easier to deal with than real grief. Give us a call today, and the professionals at i.t.NOW can help you take control of your technology needs. We’ll be a partner that will give you straight talk with no technobabble, and help you get on track. Skip the 6 stages of IT Support grief and give us a call today.