SME Survival Guide: Start-up to scale-up – how should your IT evolve?

Organisational Development Director

Fav thing about the office

It’s an office full of creative geeks with great banter, what’s not to love!

As a child I wanted to be a ... when I grew up

An actress

Guilty Pleasure(s)

Trash reality TV

Favourite Holiday

Walking in Wales if I am feeling energetic, Crete if I need a rest!

If I had a superpower it would be...

Mind Reading

Describe yourself in three words or less

Fun, nurturing, efficient

An interesting fact about me

My first car was a Humber Sceptre, which started my obsession with cars

Likes

Thai food, long walks with my dog, creating ideas with post it notes!

Favourite Band

I’ll listen to pretty much anything I can sing along to

Karaoke Jam

Islands in the stream, Dolly Parton

What I do at Q2Q:

My role is essentially support Andrew (the MD) with defining the overall business strategy and financial budgeting, then to design and deliver cost effective process and organisational change strategies, managing positive change in support of Q2Q’s future growth plans.

I work with the team to ensure there is continuous organisational performance improvement that is always customer centric, ensuring they are working collaboratively and efficiently, coaching them individually and as a team to bring out their best performance in supporting our customers.

Background and Achievements

The majority of my career has been in the mad world of Fashion, on the planning and operational side. In my previous role as Operations Director for a Heritage Menswear brand, I was responsible for the end to end journey of the product, from range planning, through sourcing, production, quality control, logistics, warehousing and customer service. Some of my key achievements in this role were improving on all delivery and service KPI’s, improving quality performance from 10% rejects to 1%, and delivering a significant number of process improvements across the team, whilst also delivering a saving on costs of 10% on overheads.

• As this role spanned so many disciplines, it enabled me to focus on my true passion, which is process improvement and people development, so my proudest achievement was introducing a Continuous Improvement Project Team to the wider business, bringing a positive change culture based on a combination of ideas including Appreciative Inquiry and Solution Focus tools. The workshops we developed empowered people to solve problems cross functionally, and considerably improved communication, collaboration and efficiency, whilst making savings to the bottom line. These workshops have formed the basis of the tools I now incorporate into Q2Q, and offer as an additional consultancy service to Q2Q customers.

Hobbies and Interests

Walking with my dog, and eating out with family

So, your start-up has taken off. You’ve brought in new recruits, established a name for yourself and now you’re looking to scale-up. Great work!

But as with everything else in business, you’re more than aware that you can’t just jump in at the deep-end without weighing up the risks and opportunities around you. And one key thing you need to ask yourself before you take that plunge is whether your current IT infrastructure is up to it.

As your company evolves, your IT needs to as well. So, what should you be considering?

Communication and collaboration

As you grow your start-up, teamwork becomes increasingly important. Bringing new people on board is a challenge in itself, but even once you’ve found your ideal recruits, certain organisational obstacles still lie ahead.

Are your systems optimised for multiple users and collaborative working? And are you making the most of cloud storage for shared files? Tech can hugely help boost productivity, so ensure you’re being savvy with your infrastructure and the applications you use.

Data protection processes

The bigger your business gets, and the longer it’s been established, the more data you’ll have on your systems. And where data resides, so too does the possibility of a breach. But with the GDPR now in full force, that’s not an eventuality you want to be dealing with as you’re scaling up!

Human error is a significant threat when it comes to data protection, so it’s vital that any new recruits are immediately brought up to speed with privacy policies. It’s also a good idea to implement role-based security as early into your growth as possible – this will help ensure system users only have access to the files they require for their job, not ones they don’t need that contain sensitive information.

Cyber-security mechanisms

Network security is a priority for every business – whether you’re a sole trader or multi-national corporation – and luckily, cyber-defences are also scalable. What’s important is that the measures you have in place are adequate to safeguard the data you have on file – especially if that’s personally identifiable information.

Will your existing firewalls, anti-spam and anti-malware software be enough as your business grows? Or should you be looking at more sophisticated deterrents? Cyber-security can be a tricky world to navigate, but it’s vital to keep on top of it and ensure your defences are up-to-date and working as they should.

Then there’s the issue of own device use. Will you be providing your employees with phones, tablets or laptops for work? Or will they be using their own tech to access company emails and files outside of the office? Security best-practice is vital in both instances, but it’s also crucial to have a BYOD policy in place if colleagues are required to access business data via their own devices.

Asking for help

Yes, your start-up venture might be going swimmingly, but don’t let pride get in the way of asking for help when you need it! You can’t do everything yourself, and as your business expands, it’s inevitable that your workload will too. Yet no matter how brilliant new colleagues you bring on board are, it can be difficult to let go of responsibilities that you’re used to handling. The same goes for outsourcing support to other companies, but enlisting outside assistance can be a huge help.

A recurring piece of advice for small business owners looking to scale-up is to automate or outsource everything possible. Whilst there will understandably be budgeting constraints, it’s the services that require a lot of technical expertise – including IT support – that you can’t afford to fumble through in-house. Ultimately, failing to employ the help you need to keep your systems and software running smoothly and securely, will have far a more serious financial impact than small regular monthly costs!

Looking for IT support for your growing business? We provide a reliable, scalable service to help you at any stage of your journey! Get in touch today and we’ll chat through your needs in more detail.

SME Survival Guide: Start-up to scale-up – how should your IT evolve?