What I wish business owners knew about IT: Part 2

After 30 years in the field of IT, I have a few things to share with fellow business owners about IT and this time its about MONEY!

My name is Tracy Hardin, and this is the second blog in my 3-part blog series on what I wish business owners knew about IT. This time, the topic is MONEY! Mistakes and shortsightedness in IT can and will cost the business owner money, and sometimes lots of it.

IT impacts your company’s bottom line because it is an ASSET, not an expense!

Too often I meet business owners that roll their eyes and sigh when it comes investing money in IT. I hear, “It’s just too expensive”, “Why do we even need that?” and last, but not least, “I hate IT”. Yet these same businesses would be in a world of hurt if something happened to those computers! Good IT makes $ for the business by improving staff efficiency.  Think about it – payroll, accounting, customer tracking, invoicing and purchasing are all done on a computer to save time which equates to quicker response and fewer staff on the payroll. Yet the care and feeding of these critical computer systems is often neglected and underfunded.

When your stuff doesn’t work, you are losing money!

I’ve seen staff members hampered by slow internet, aging computers that lock up, and printers that won’t print. Every minute the staff spends waiting on a page to load or clearing the paper jam or rebooting a computer is money lost to the business owner. Give the employees quality tools and watch the productivity increase!

open server

Hardware – you get what you pay for!

Just like everything else, you get what you pay for in IT hardware. Hardware is roughly divided into two categories – business-class and consumer class. Your consumer class devices are found at the local Best Buy, Staples and Costco. They are slower devices, with short warranty periods, far fewer security features and low-quality components. In other words, they are cheap for a reason. A good IT resource will guide you to purchasing business-class products that will not only last longer but improve efficiency with their speed and reliability.

Involve IT in management meetings

Its tough when the IT department is the last to know about company decisions that impact the IT infrastructure. Involve your IT in executive meetings. It’s no fun when a major decision is made and the $50,000 needed to upgrade IT was not included or even considered.

Custom app development is expensive and has its risks

Over the years several clients have expressed interest in hiring their own development team to design an app customized for their business. There are some serious risks involved in this. First, a custom app will need care and feeding by the developers its whole life. New versions of Windows/Mac and new cyber threats means regular updates to the code, not to mention features and reports you want added over time. Also, it’s extremely difficult to find someone to work with your code if your original development team abandons it or you, for whatever reason. Rarely do you get the source code for the app, and if you did, it is not easy to pick up where someone else left off. If you do find someone to take it over, expect a lot of hours and dollars to get them up to speed. Relying on software that has no support behind it is risky and you might find it difficult to export your data out of a custom system. I do encourage clients to bend a little on the existing market offerings and talk to others in their industry to get recommendations.

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Tracy Hardin

Tracy Hardin is President and founder of Next Century Technologies in Lexington, KY. She has a bachelor's degree in computer science from the University of Kentucky and has earned certifications from Novell, Cisco and CompTIA. Her specialties in the field of IT are network design and security, project management and improving productivity through technology. She loves helping people by sharing her knowledge of tech.