Get Your Scale-up IT Right First Time: 7 Things You Need To Do

Poorly implemented IT often comes back to haunt a business and hold back its growth. A big part of this problem is that many businesses don’t really think about their IT until it’s too late. By following these 7 tips, you can get your scale-up IT right from the start. 

1. Strategy and ownership

When you’re scaling up a business, it will change and grow rapidly. If the IT infrastructure doesn’t grow with it, eventually the disconnect will become a problem. This can be avoided by actively including it in your strategy, instead of as an afterthought. 

When making your scale-up business plan, include how you will scale-up your IT too. Also consider who owns IT in your business. If there’s no one on your Board with digital expertise, it may be that you need to add one. 

2. Grow deliberately

A big part of a digital transformation is fixing the inefficiencies that develop when a business’s IT is left to grow organically. You can prevent this from becoming a problem by being deliberate in your scale-up IT growth.

As part of your digital strategy, figure out how you’re likely going to need to change and plan out how you will respond in advance. Instead of getting a new software solution every time a problem arises, consider the functionality of what you already have.

If you find that you can consolidate two solutions into a single product, don’t let the need to retrain be a barrier. It’ll be cheaper in the long run to use one correctly, than pay for two licences you don’t need.

3. Build to be agile 

Always consider how easily upgraded your systems are. No impressive and up to date tech stays that way for long. IT evolves quickly, and if all of your new tech can’t be upgraded without being completely replaced, then it’ll cost you a lot more in the long run. 

It may need the advice of an expert IT Director to implement, but systems that are built with upgradability in mind can be kept operational indefinitely, and for less than frequent large-scale replacements.

4. Only buy what you need

It can be tempting to buy all of the latest tech, especially when your supplier is pushing it. Never make a purchase unless you know how it will be integrated into your current operations though.

This doesn’t just mean having an idea of how it could be used, but planning how it will be implemented, knowing what value it brings, and making sure the training needed is available. If no one in a business knows how to use something, it tends to do little more than gather dust.

5. Establish regular training 

As previously stated, when people don’t know how to use the new, they tend to keep using the old. Establish regular, useful training updates, and instil a growth through learning mindset into your company culture. 

This doesn’t just include the employees that use the tech, but should be done at every step of management. They don’t necessarily need the same level of technical instruction as the staff, but how can you expect a Board of Directors to make informed decisions on something they understand nothing about?

6. Ensure cyber security 

As digital technology grows more complicated, so too does the danger of not protecting yourself properly. Establishing cyber security protocols and crisis management from the beginning can help protect your business and is a very important part of a scale-up IT strategy.

This isn’t a task for half measures. There can be legal and operational ramifications for failing to invest in proper security, even if it can seem costly. Remember that the weakest point of a digital defence is usually its human component, so make sure to include good practice in your training schedule. 

7. Integrate across the board

When planning your scale-up IT growth, don’t think of your business as a set of departments with their own individual needs. Think of it instead as a single organism that’s connected by its shared systems.

Well implemented IT considers how the different aspects of a business interact with each other and uses solutions that allow that to interact seamlessly. Sales and marketing data can support each other, while automatic communications between finance and sales keeps everyone in the know.

To summarise

There are a lot of benefits of fully planning out your scale-up IT development as part of your scale-up strategy. It can help prevent future waste and help you prepare for any changes that might come your way.

Digital expertise is an invaluable inclusion to your Boardroom, and a Part-time IT Director could be what your business needs to scale up right. Offering flexible contracts, they can bring their expertise to a workload and budget that suits your business.

 

Contact your Regional Director of Boardroom Advisors

Written by: John Courtney

John is highly ranked in the Top 100 UK Entrepreneurs list by City AM and is winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from techSPARK. He has been a Board Director himself for over 40 years and first started placing Non-Executive Directors over 25 years ago. John founded and ran six of his own businesses including a Management Consultancy for 10 years, a Corporate Finance offering for 10 years and a mid-sized Digital Agency for another 10 years.