Reach your IT peak: Why one size never fits all with IT

Managing Director

Fav thing about the office

Good banter

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

Plumber/Electrician

Guilty Pleasure(s)

Strictly come dancing

Favourite Holiday

Crete

If I had a superpower it would be...

Mind Reading

Describe yourself in three words or less

Methodical, Energetic, Reliable

An interesting fact about me

Started “Work” life as an opera singer

Likes

Horse riding, fillet steak and a good curry

Favourite Band

…into Classical Music

Karaoke Jam

Desperado- The Eagles

What I do at Q2Q:

My role is to provide the overall direction and “eye on the compass” as to where we, as a team, are heading.

I’m still very much focused on the customer and will often get involved in customer solution discussions. As a techie at heart, I’m regularly seeking to understand industry developments and directional changes that may affect our customers, so we and our customers can remain on the front foot.

Background and Achievements

I started out in an I.T technical department of what was then British Rail, following which I joined a large construction company to re-organise their I.T infrastructure.

I then spent a couple of years as a business systems analyst at P&O Nedlloyd designing, developing and implementing systems within their Bulk and Tank Carrier companies.

In 1999 I was appointed as I.T Manager of SockShop and subsequently as of Head of I.T. at the Tulchan Group, comprising then of 300 stores. Due to a Year 2000 compliance issue, we were required to seek an alternative system, which we were able to more cost effectively write ourselves. This product subsequently became known as RAWHIDE and we later sold this product into a number of other businesses. At the time it was quite cutting edge as all the warehouse function was undertaken using handheld, wireless scanners, rather than the batch scanners that were dominant at the time.

In 2003 The Tulchan Group was acquired by Harris Watson. We were then asked to take responsibility for the I.T. of Viyella Ladies wear and in 2004 the demands of two MD’s and two FD’s (Tulchan Group + Viyella), resulted in the sensible decision to break out of the group and Q2Q was born. This then enabled us to also get involved with a number of other group companies (Harris Watson owned companies) as well as other non-group parties.  At one stage we were managing the I.T for almost 500 stores across a number of businesses.

Today Q2Q retains some of the group customers that we acquired along the way, as well as a substantial number of new and diverse customers in almost all industries including accounting, business development organisations, legal marketing, medical, retail and wholesale.

Hobbies and Interests

Horse riding, running (Jogging), motorbikes, reading any of the Detective Rebus stories.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represent 99% of all businesses in the EU according to the European Commission. So, when it comes to finding the right level of IT support for a growing business, an off-the-peg solution simply won’t cut it.

In 1983, Harvard Business Review identified the five ‘life’ stages of a business as existence, survival, success, take-off and resource maturity. That’s why, our latest campaign – Reach your IT peak – is focused around helping SMEs to decipher their individual IT requirements and finding the right level of support for them.

So, how can you ensure that your organisation has all the IT support it needs at each stage of your adventure?

Existence - It’s just you and a flask of coffee

For most SME’s, the early days involve just the business owner and their computer. At this stage you will be incredibly hands-on across each and every aspect of the company. Like a walker preparing to head out on their very first hike, you’ll be keeping the equipment basic until you’re ready to take things to the next stage.

Whilst you might not look for any IT support aside from reactive problem-solving, it might be a good time give some thought to your cyber security and data back-up needs. That’s understandable, your focus will be on growing your customer base and keeping existing clients happy.

Survival – Time for teammates

Survival is key for all mountaineers. This stage of your SME journey is like reaching ‘base camp’ on Everest. You’ve already achieved something great, but there is plenty of hard work still to come. Inevitably, this means adding more equipment to your toolkit, but you really don’t want to be that person who has ‘all the gear but no idea’.

As your customer base – and cash flow – grows, it might be time to expand your team too. You’ll be thinking very carefully about who you surround yourself with at this point, and you need to make sure you pick your A-team well.

But, as the headcount increases, so do your technical needs. A full-time IT person probably isn’t on your radar, but you might consider some third-party support, just to make sure you’re heading in the right direction.

A basic package might offer essential desktop, asset management and server solutions, as well as advanced online security and data management. Having someone ready to deal with any IT-related issues which crop up can be a real lifesaver should storm clouds gather overhead.

Success  - Consolidation and stabilisation

Just like you’d make several acclimatisation climbs before you tackled the summit of a mountain, the same goes with taking your business to the next step. You know what you’re doing – and you do it well – it’s now all about getting yourself into the best possible position before you move on.

You’ll have your route mapped out in a clear business plan and it’s time to approach some investors to help you ascend the SME ladder. If you’re successful, you’re going to need a lot more support in every element of the business.

Now might be the time you think about a more intermediate level of IT support. Perhaps you don’t want to commit to the costs of recruiting a full-time member of staff, but want to know you have proactive, preventative support across your network.

Outsourcing your IT requirements not only removes the hassle that day-to-day management of your systems can bring, but it can also help with practical how-to guides, plus ongoing asset management and server support. Not only that, but you’ll probably need something a little more advanced in terms of security and management systems, ahead of your next big move.

Take off - The summit bid

As you prepare for your summit bid, your company will continue to grow in all directions, and a more formal structure will inevitably start to emerge. Your early teammates will have become managers and you’ll probably start to play a more strategic role yourself.

This might be the time you recruit some in-house IT support. Someone who lives and breathes your company day-to-day can offer a much deeper understanding of your network, systems and setup. Plus, they will soon be well-versed when it comes to the intricacies of company politics.

They say ‘two heads are better than one’ and having an in-house solution isn’t always a one-stop-shop. There’s an argument to say that having an internal expert who is bolstered by third-party specialist support can give you the best possible chance of reaching your IT peak.

Maturity – Time to admire the view

You’ve reached the top of your SME peak – congratulations! Now it’s time to take a step back and admire the view.

No doubt by now, you’ll have teams of people handling every element of your business, with various levels of management to boot. Day-to-day control will be managed by experts within their field, and your IT department should be no different.

At this stage you’ll need a much more advanced level of support. It goes without saying that you’ll still need all the basics covered – such as hardware, software, back-ups and security – but on a much more advanced scale. It’s time to look at two-factor authentication, site-to-site connectivity and of course, making sure your teams can work remotely without any issues.

No matter where you are on your business growth adventure, seeking the right assistance – at the right time can get you to the top. Going it alone is futile past a certain point, so it’s crucial to ensure you’re enlisting professional support to help rather than hinder your progress.

Our comprehensive IT audit will help you reassess what support you need, whatever stage you’re at in your journey. Starting out with a thorough 36-point health check of your current IT infrastructure and processes, we’ll then present our findings and recommendations in an easy-to-digest graphical report. Contact us to find out more.

Reach your IT peak: Why one size never fits all with IT Reach your IT peak: Why one size never fits all with IT