How do small businesses without on-board IT staffs decide what computer HW and SW they need and which ones to buy?
As a manager in larger companies it was hard enough getting a full-time IT staff to do adequate business cases and decent market analyses. In smaller companies we have "just done it" with the idea that each decision was pretty small, but later we ended up spending more replacing an inadequate solution (especially if you factor in disrupting the staff). How have you dealt with this? Is there a decent internet resource that won't take me more time than it is worth to sift through it all?
Much good information and answers.
I would add: keep it simple. If you have basic IT needs, know what they are in layman's terms (a contractor/vendor should help), know what metrics or standards you will need to measure performance- bandwidth cost/gig, uptime ratios, etc.- and go from there.
If a vendor or consultant can't keep this easy, then look elsewhere. They should help you keep them accountable.
Hi Douglas, we wrote a blog post that I think may help you determine what types of hardware and software to invest in: http://hub.am/1j6bSIA It gives a high-level overview on building an IT strategy (which includes buying HW/SW/apps for your business) based on business goals, your business' dependency on technology, and planning for the future.
Once you get down the basics, you need to do your research on each one, which is where a lot of business leaders tend to get stuck because there isn't enough time in the day to run your business AND do the necessary research on this stuff (especially when salespeople are biased, as are bloggers and websites).
Hope this helps in some way! Here's the link again. http://hub.am/1j6bSIA
Hi Douglas, I can well understand your problem, I do work in the IT Industry for Large corporates, and lately national Government. However I have been on the other end of this as a small business owner, but believe me the problem is no different, it is just more costly, and there are numerous corporates with diabolically designed systems, because large vendors and consultancies have taken advantage.
The issue is not to go looking for new hardware / software to replace what you have, the first thing to answer is what is the business Case and business process you wish a system for. Do not get dragged into whether it should be Linux or Microsoft, or whether you should be looking at Cloud services. We need to see what is the Requirement you are needing to fulfil now and over the next 5 to 10 years.
Will your business be static, or do you wish to grow it, or maybe expand by takeover, or MAYBE you just want a system that makes your business Admin easier and enables you to service your customers better to retain them.
Once you have cracked that and got it down in writing then maybe some of us can help in a Consultancy manner, with no ties or obligations to any particular solution other than a solution to your business dilemma.
I wish you good hunting for a solution.
Well, since I have diversified out of the IT business, maybe I can help? I have moved into more Health & Wellness services and some products as well as hydroponics systems. It really depends on just what you NEED as far as systems. For simple bookeeping, it is hands down QuickBooks Pro. You can run it on most current laptops and all desktops as stand alone or in a workgroup with multiple users.
Hardware is pretty cheap these days as a cost of doing business. From workstations to laptops to notepads to smart phones it all has the ability to keep you 'connected' as much as you desire.
For web services, it depends on just what you need, simple web site for advertising (like most of mine) or active selling sites. You can easily set up sell sites using Amazon, and many others cheap or free (international use Alibaba.com).
There are more options and more decisions that you MUST integrate with your business plans. Best is to find a good consultant (local if possible) to utilize on an ongoing basis so he/she gets to know/understand your business and can help guide you. Often-times they can act as your IT Manager part-time or as/needed.
Ask other similar sized and similar positioned businesses in your area and check in on LinkedIn. Lots of helpful folks there in just about any area you can imagine; world wide!
Hi Douglas Brown,
I would suggest you to either hire a technical consultant or freelancers to help you out. You can use various websites like Freelancer, ODesk, Fiverr and Guru to opt for freelancers
Demands of company services levels can help so much to chose what HW/SW & resources capacity needed.
Since they have no IT on board they always go out and check for quote and specs of what they feel can increase or change the business to do more or deliver.
Outsourcing service can be a good option for you. We have customers in different countries, and provide our services including hardware, software, and even networking design and integration of telecommunications. Most of those are doing small business without any IT staffs. Actually, on the Internet, you and I may reach anywhere in the world. In addition, you may have more effectiveness to control your limited budgets for any specific purchasing.
We have a software development team in India, hardware design and manufacturing in China, networking consultation in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and our base is in Taiwan. However, you'll amaze the cost of our services versus what we're giving to you.
I would generally advise a small company to engage the services of a reliable local supplier who can undertake this work for you. But it really does depend on your definition of small. Small can be quite small in which case DIY is usually the option or, in fact quite large in terms of number of computers etc. and so warrants developing a specification prior to purchase. In doing so ongoing support is generally to be considered as well.
You find an independent I.T person like myself where I guide you through the process. I do what I consider Your Virtual I.T. Department. Leave it to an expert not some web site suggestions.