Buy IT to grow, not slow, your business
Too many SMBs buy IT that meets their immediate needs but won’t let them grow as a business. Here’s how to avoid those pitfalls
Henry Ford almost certainly did not say, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”. However, it’s a truism that IT managers and directors would do well to keep in mind before spending thousands on new equipment that meets last year’s challenges rather than next year’s.
Smaller businesses face another big hurdle, too: a lack of time. If you don’t have hundreds of thousands of pounds to invest in smart-suited consultants, it’s easy to let short-term solutions override your longer-term strategy.
Often, it comes down to something we covered in our previous article about the opportunities, and dangers presented to SMBs by Black Friday: if you haven’t sat down and worked out what you need, ideally in partnership with the people who will end up using the equipment you buy, you may end up with a “bargain buy” that’s almost entirely useless to your business.
For instance, you should be wary of opting for a generic specification when there’s a group of people in your business – it might be as few as one or two – who need something special. That might be a touchscreen on a laptop, a discrete graphics card in a desktop PC, or something you haven’t even thought about.
Underspecifying is one frequent mistake that companies make. This has an inevitable consequence: employees waste time, either hanging around waiting for an unresponsive system to complete a task, or trying to solve the problem themselves. This often leads to a particularly virulent form of shadow IT, where equipment is bought by frustrated workers and then expensed back to the company.
Don’t forget the IT kit that’s tucked out of view, too. It could be something as simple as buying a network switch with eight ports now and needing to replace it next year with a 16-port option. Or choosing a storage area network (SAN) that doesn’t have the capability to grow with your data storage needs.
On the other side of the fence, there’s the over-specification problem, which again leads to wasted money. Could you save money, for instance, by switching certain users to Chromebooks?
So, how do you avoid buying the wrong products? As the title of this article says, how do you ensure you buy IT that grows rather than slows your business? Planning and research are your two obvious tools, but there’s also a free resource you can tap into: Dell Small Business Advisors.
The idea behind this service is simple: to provide small businesses with personalised support so that they end up with the right products. It’s a one-on-one conversation, no strings attached, that allows you to pick the brains of someone who may well have solved similar problems for other businesses.
If you’re interested, you can call a UK freephone number – 0800 085 4878 – or visit Dell’s Small Business Advisor page, where you can start an online chat and view the latest deals.
Speaking of which, here are a selection from Dell that could be of interest to your business. Just make sure they fit into your business plan before you buy! Head to Dell’s website for the full list of Black Friday offers.