January is the month when everyone is making promises to be improved versions of themselves and make ‘better’ choices over the year ahead. Yet, while some people succeed, many of these self-promises go unachieved – whether that be due to lack of willpower or because life’s just thrown a bit of a curveball.

Our MD, Lorna Stellakis, recently wrote a piece about how ‘spending’ time trying to get something done is completely different to ‘investing’ the time in completing a task. And, this may be where you’re going wrong – especially when it comes to your SME’s tech fitness.

A cyber strategy is crucial for businesses of all shapes, sizes and sectors, so why not make 2020 the year this actually happens?

Appointing the right IT support provider

This isn’t a sales pitch, but just think about architecture… with all structurally sound buildings, the foundations are solid and weatherproof – and your IT should be very much the same!

Some good tech partners are solely focused on, well, the tech! But this is where issues can start to arise. A great one, however, factors in your wider business – how it operates, its corporate objectives, staff numbers and working habits, and more – to glean a true picture of how your firm works day-to-day.

There’s no point paying for support you don’t need – i.e. that’s not tailored to you – so the first thing on your SME’s cyber agenda this year should be assessing whether your current IT firm knows you inside out – if not, it might be time to move on.

Communicate your business goals

Okay, so you’ve found the perfect IT support match – now what?

It’s time to wear your heart on your sleeve and get them up to speed with the good, bad and ugly of your organisation. This helps to paint an accurate picture of where your business is at currently – and where it hopes to go in the future.

You’ve probably heard the term ‘digital transformation’ many times, but to truly achieve a robust, digital infrastructure, you need to share your ‘roadmap’ with your appointed techies, so they can customise your support needs around your objectives.

IT strategy and planning aren’t just about the return on investment from new equipment you’ve bought, it’s about giving tech considerations a seat at the boardroom table and factoring in the role they plan in helping these ideas come to fruition.

Assess the current situation

How do you know where you’re going, if you’re unsure on where you currently are?

This might sound simple, but it’s true. Having peace of mind that any technology investments you do make are working, is largely down to uncovering the areas which are working well – as well as the ones which aren’t so much.

Here at Q2Q, we’re huge believers in giving our clients – both existing and prospective – open and honest advice about what tech they really need. That’s why we start every new partnership with an IT audit.

Putting your systems and IT operations under the microscope, our team can gain unparalleled insight into how your existing set-up is performing. We then compose a detailed – and jargon-free – report which drills down where no action is needed and where we would recommend you invest your budget and thinking time.

Not only is it a great tool to show your neglected tech some love, but it also offers you, as a business owner, an informed steer on where care and attention should be given.

Establish some realistic measurables

As with all business activities, you can only measure success if you know what you’re benchmarking it against.

That’s why we recommend working with your IT partner to establish some key performance indicators. Whether this is an uplift in the number of enquiries coming through the website, a reduction in the number of staff complaining their systems keep crashing, or less time lost due to slow machines, it’s up to you to devise a ‘wish list’ and tell your support company about it.

Armed with this list of desirables, your provider should use this as a starting point when collating your bespoke support plan, and this is something you can keep an eye on as time passes.

‘Realistic’ is a key point to major on here though, because it’s vital to bear in mind that the level of IT support your SME will need is very evolutionary – and shifts in tandem with your business.

Keep the conversation going

This brings us nicely onto our next point. Just because you’ve had an initial meeting with your IT company doesn’t – and shouldn’t – mean that’s it for the rest of the year. It’s crucial to maintain contact with them – no matter how trivial you deem the updates.

Granted, if it’s that you’ve run out of biscuits, they probably don’t need to know – although, as tea-lovers here at Q2Q, we would empathise with such an office dilemma.

However, if your workforce grows significantly, you’re receiving suspicious emails or you need to educate employees on the importance of cyber-security, your IT partner would definitely need to be informed.

As a result, they can then adapt and tweak the support you receive, to ensure there are no potential entry points for hackers, or even increased office tensions because the server is running too slowly.

In a nutshell, it’s important to remember that tech should be incorporated into your wider company planning, because when treating it as a silo, that’s when it’s more difficult to run a company that’s aligned and supported by all areas of the business.

If you’d like to get in touch about how Q2Q can help your firm devise – and stick to – a new IT plan in 2020, get in touch! Give us a call on 01524 581690 or drop in (we always have biscuits!)

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Technical IT Support illustration at Q2Q HQ Lancaster, Lancashire and the North West