Running a startup certainly keeps you busy. Obtaining business licenses, securing funding, developing your product or service, finding customers, the list is almost endless. One of the last things you have time to think about is technology and your roadmap surrounding it. But in any business, technology is one of the essential parts to get right. It can set you up for success and set you apart from the competition. But how early do you need to start planning your startup technology? What considerations do you need to factor into your decisions? We’re here to help! Read on to learn about the importance of tech consideration and why bringing in professionals early is the right approach.
At what stage do I need to consider IT?
There’s no real hard and fast rule for when you should implement IT practices and start creating technology standardization for your organization. But, almost always, the earlier, the better. And bringing in the professionals at these early stages is key to success. A professional IT company, often called an MSP (managed services provider), can help you determine early what compliance requirements you’ll need to meet. Suppose you work in the healthcare industry, and you know your company will need to meet HITRUST or HIPAA certifications. In that case, you want to ensure you’re meeting these standards even at the infancy stage of your business. This way, when you’re ready to start going through the validations, you aren’t changing things midstream. Planning and implementing the required standards can help you grow in line with best practices rather than overhauling your processes at a later stage.
An MSP promotes efficiency
One of the most common occurrences we see with startup technology is delegating IT tasks to a tech-savvy team member. Maybe you have someone in marketing who is particularly interested in cybersecurity, or your finance guru used to work at an Apple store. Usually, the early parts of these tasks in a startup are manageable: buying a domain, purchasing a few computers, maybe investing in a VPN for remote work. But as your organization grows, these tasks become more technical and unachievable for anyone but a professional. And, even if your marketer is particularly good at IT, isn’t their time best spent working on growing the company rather than troubleshooting software issues?
An MSP will increase efficiency across the board. They are better equipped to deal with support issues as they arise. Also, they help you implement best practices for your employees to follow that will mitigate the issues arising in the first place.
Maintaining consistency is key
One of the earliest startup technology decisions you need to make for your organization is what systems you want to use. For hardware, this usually comes down to Mac vs. PC. While most software works on both systems, creating consistency across your organization is vital. When you only have a few employees, it’s easy to let some employees use Apple, and some use PCs depending on their familiarity with each. But managed IT support is more difficult when everyone is using their own system. Also, when you begin to grow, especially rapidly, you’ll want to ensure everyone is using the same devices. If you have to translate all your workflows and processes to Windows from Mac and vice versa, it just complicates things.
The same is true for software and programs. If some people are using Microsoft SharePoint while others are using Google Drive or Dropbox, no one will know where any of the data lives. This also poses a significant risk for security. The fewer programs and 3rd party sources you trust with your data, the better you can protect it. If you have three different programs for storage that everyone is using, that just means you have three times more work to do setting up security protocols. When you scale your organization, it’s just easier when all the blocks are the same size and material.
If you’re unsure what devices are best for your organization or what software will best fit into your company’s workflows and environment, it’s best to engage with an MSP. They have the knowledge and experience to help you pick the right tools for the job and can work with you on finding solutions that fit your needs, budget, and prior familiarity.
The emergence of VCIOs
In recent years, we’ve seen more and more organizations utilize the role of a VCIO (Virtual Chief Information Officer). This role is usually filled by a person or company outside your organization that provides consultation for your technology strategy. This VCIO oversees your IT infrastructure and ensures everything is working correctly. They act as a dedicated technology liaison for your company, helping you decide on the best way to scale your technology with your business. This includes everything from device deployment and help desk support to system processes and cybersecurity solutions. Beyond just day-to-day support, the VCIO will also help you plan for the future by collaborating with you to create a technology roadmap. This enables you to be proactive in your technology growth and plan for upcoming expenses.
Having a VCIO is often better than having an internal IT department because it gives you an unbiased and experienced perspective on how best to implement technology and decisions around it. This role has become much more common in recent years, as it allows your organization to engage with an IT expert at a relationship level, not just for as-needed support tickets.
In conclusion, the earlier you can standardize and plan for technology in your startup, the better. Engaging with and bringing a trusted MSP or VCIO into the equation early can help set up your business for success. Ready to get the conversation started for your startup? Contact us today and speak to one of our technology experts about how we can help you grow.