Businesses rely on information technology to improve their workflows and achieve an unprecedented level of efficiency these days. The right IT solution can change a lot about a business. Good data management, for instance, allows businesses to gather more insights, learn more from their operations, and plan for better operational efficiency.
Of course, the whole cycle starts with choosing the right IT solutions to use. This can be a bit of a challenge, especially when you consider the wealth of options currently available on the market. Before you dig deeper and consider the unique features, specific tools, and distinct advantages offered by different IT solutions, it is necessary to know some basic aspects to get started.
There are a lot of questions to ask about an IT solution as you begin the selection process, and one of the most important ones is whether the solution is easy – and affordable – to maintain. If you run a big business with its own IT department, maintenance isn’t as big of a challenge to overcome. With a few training sessions and some preparation, the IT department can handle maintenance without a glitch.
For small and medium enterprises, however, maintenance is an issue that needs to be considered carefully. The IT solution can be of use to the business only when it is operational, and it can only be operational when it is maintained properly.
In many cases, managed solutions running in the cloud is the best way to go. You have a team of experts who really know the system inside out handling maintenance tasks for you, which means you can focus more on benefiting from the solution and maximizing its use as part of your business workflow. There are also managed IT support services designed for multiple solutions; you can learn more about such services and how they can be useful for your business.
Next, you need to review the cost of acquiring, implementing, running, and maintaining the solution. Getting the best IT solution on the market isn’t always the most cost-efficient approach to take. Opting for a cheaper alternative doesn’t always provide the best return on investment or ROI either. The key to nailing the selection is balancing costs and benefits.
As mentioned before, the cost of an IT solution can be divided into four large groups. First, you need to calculate how much it will cost to get the solution. This includes the cost of buying a license, sometimes for every user that you want to add to the system.
Next, you need to consider how much it will cost to get the new IT solution up and running. For cloud-based solutions, you don’t have to worry about investing heavily in your own servers and other supporting hardware. You have a fixed monthly service fee to pay and not much else to worry about.
Running and maintenance costs are the third and fourth cost elements to take into account. Once again, you have to make sure that the IT solution generates enough benefits for the business compared to the costs of running it. Your goal is to find the right balance between costs and benefits.
The next aspect to consider is scalability. Will the IT solution scale alongside the business? How soon do you have to search for a new, more capable solution as your business grows rapidly in today’s market? These questions can reveal a lot about how scalable a system really is.
You want an IT solution that allows you to start small. This gives you the ability to keep your IT spending efficient since you don’t have to pay for features or licenses you don’t yet need. As the business requirements grow, you can then upgrade the solution accordingly.
Scalability is also important for dealing with spikes in business operations. Ideally, you want to have enough headroom so that you can still rely on the IT solution when there are sudden increases in customers’ orders, manufacturing needs, and other parts of business operations.
You cannot look into IT solutions without digging deeper into its reliability. The system’s reliability depends on a lot of factors. With an unmanaged solution, for example, you have more control over how the system is set up and how reliable it can be. At the same time, you also need to invest more and have the expertise to ensure maximum reliability and smooth operations.
Managed systems are easier to deal with. You can assess the IT solution’s reliability based on existing (and past) clients’ testimonials, as well as other metrics. You can go through reviews, check server availability using various tools, and even do a test run with offers such as 30-day money back guarantee and free trials.
Of course, having an IT support team on your site will greatly improve the reliability of any IT solution you use. Managed IT services are a huge plus for small and medium businesses who need to rely heavily on IT-based solutions.
Last but not least, you need to consider the security of the system before looking into other features and tools offered by the IT solution. Information security is very important today. More cyber attacks are targeting businesses of different scales, and small and medium companies are usually the most vulnerable.
If you choose to go with managed IT services route, you can also ask the support team to fortify your entire business IT system. For managed solutions running from the cloud, security measures such as SSL encryption and data redundancies are usually added for better security. Unmanaged solutions, on the other hand, require you to handle information security on your own.
There other things to consider when searching for the right IT solution to use. The ability to integrate multiple solutions into one system for your business and flexibility in terms of implementation and customization are among those extra factors you want to take into account. Cover the basics we discussed in this article, however, and you will always end up with a good IT solution that brings a lot of benefits to your business.