What is the Best Scalable Technology Strategy for Your Organization?
Most business owners, executives, and investors intend to scale their businesses and you’re likely no different. Part of scaling a business is developing scalable strategies for all major functions within the organization. Technology facilitates most functions and processes in modern organizations, so implementing the best scalable office technology strategy is critical to build a scalable business. This article explores the best scalable office technology strategy from a high-level and specifically for different aspects of your technology systems.
The best scalable office technology strategy for your organization is to eliminate unnecessary complexity as much as possible, implement underlying software, infrastructure, and support solutions that are flexible, view technology as an investment, and align with best practices as early as possible.
Eliminate Unnecessary Technology-Complexity
Complexity in your network, computer environments, and applications increases overhead. Overhead increases with complexity because it requires more spending on IT staff or managed services providers to manage and support the technology environment, hence the increase in infrastructure costs. Not only does the complexity increase your cost structure, but unnecessary complexity diminishes your employees’ experience with technology as well. Not all complexity is bad, and some businesses must adopt greater complexity for reasons specific to their business or industry. Unnecessary complexity, though, is a drain on your resources, and ultimately, your money.
Implement Flexible Software, Infrastructure, and Support Systems
Your software, technology infrastructure systems, and support systems should be as flexible as possible. Flexibility allows for efficient use of upfront capital, but also a quick and easy ability to scale rapidly when needed. When deciding how to address your software, technology infrastructure, and support needs today, you may be tempted to think about immediate costs and needs only. Thinking about how these solutions will grow with your business and the mid-to-long-term cost implications can save you a lot of heartburn and money later. Investing in the wrong technology, particularly software, infrastructure and support systems that are not flexible, will cost a lot more down the road when you realize it’s created friction or a roadblock to scaling your business.
View Technology as an Investment
It’s hard to scale a business smoothly without a scalable office technology strategy for your organization. A scalable office technology strategy does require some investment. When it’s viewed as an investment to enable the rest of your business functions to operate at maximum productivity, it’s easier to accept the costs of adopting scalable technology aligned with best practices.
Align with Technology Best Practices
Adopting best practices as early as possible paves the way for a smoother ride as your organization scales. Putting off the transitions needed to align with best practices creates a growing problem the organization will face in the future. It’s also far more costly, and even intimidating for executives and other employees, to transition to new technologies or ways of doing things when an organization is much greater in size. If you align with these strategies and best practices early, scaling the office technology is more like turning up the volume as opposed to pushing a car up a hill.
The Best, Scalable Office Technologies for Each Core Aspect of Your Overall Technology
Now that we’ve addressed the key points of the best scalable office technology strategy, we’ll dive into some more specifics about how this applies to each core component of your technology.
The Best Scalable Collaboration and Communications Tools
When it comes to collaboration and communications, our position is that all businesses should adopt either Office 365 or G Suite, because they are the best, scalable collaboration and communications tools.
Either solution provides a suite of tools for email, instant messaging, collaboration and sharing, and much more. You may choose to layer additional collaboration or communications tools around these platforms, but these address at least one core component of your technology needs. Since they are subscription based, they’re easy to scale up or down instantly, and spend only on what you need without having to invest in expensive infrastructure and management overhead. Also, Office 365 and G Suite allow you to standardize and improve the user experience. Additionally, since they’re cloud hosted, very reliable, improve standardization, and are very well known by technology support vendors, these platforms facilitate lower management cost in addition to the reductions in infrastructure spending.
If you need additional collaboration or communications tools beyond Office 365 or G Suite, we strongly recommend using web-based, cloud-hosted, and ideally Software as a Service (SaaS), such as Slack, Salesforce, etc. SaaS avoids investing in servers to house applications, provides robust vendor support, and reduces IT management costs as a result.
The Best, Scalable Voice Communications Systems
Every business needs a means of calling and communicating by voice with each other and external parties. For voice communications, the best scalable solution is to implement a cloud phone system (aka Hosted VoIP) or a Cloud Unified Communications System. Cloud-based voice communications systems are the fastest to deploy, require little or no capital investment, expand capacity flexibly as needed, and still offer advanced features to improve workflows. They’re also extremely easy to deploy across multiple sites, to mobile workers, or for telecommuters.
Since these solutions transfer the responsibility of managing the core phone system infrastructure in the cloud to the cloud system provider, they reduce infrastructure needs and spending, reduce complexity in your environment, and reduce the overhead costs of managing your voice communications.
The Best, Scalable Line of Business Applications
The most scalable solutions for line of business applications are Software as a Service (SaaS) applications. SaaS applications are hosted on the software vendor’s computing infrastructure in data centers, are via a web-browser, typically sold as flexible subscriptions, and there’s a SaaS application addressing almost every function for every industry at this point. They reduce complexity vis and vis not needing server infrastructure to run and are supported by the SaaS provider. Best in class SaaS solutions also have excellent training resources allowing new employees to gain proficiency with as minimal drain on your other employees as possible.
The reduction in complexity and training resources cuts down on your technology management and support cost. Since these solutions are sold as flexible subscriptions, scaling up is as simple as adding licensing and configuring the new user. Deploying applications housed onsite can require adding infrastructure to scale, and even in a scenario where an application is hosted in your own private cloud, you still may need to increase your computing resources to scale up the application. Therefore, SaaS is the most scalable solution for line of business applications, followed by hosting in your own cloud environment, and the least scalable way to deploy these applications is installing them on in-house infrastructure.
Besides deploying line of business applications in a scalable manner, it’s also important to consider the transfer of information throughout the organization. The most scalable solution is to deploy one SaaS platform that can encompass all your functions, but this is often not feasible, with no one solution adequately providing for all major functions. The next best, scalable approach is to deploy line of business applications that have native support for integrations to each other. This facilitates the seamless flow of information from one system to another, maintaining the integrity, improving productivity, and enhancing your client and employee experience. Early in a small company, it may not seem very consequential to manually move information from system to system. While that may not be a major time-drain at a smaller size, the workload will not scale effectively at all, and you’re opening the door for future costly mistakes stemming from poor or inaccurate information transfer.
The Best, Scalable Network and Computing Infrastructure
Business-grade and cloud managed is the best, scalable way to address network and computing infrastructure. Meraki networking for firewalls, switches and wireless is excellent for scaling. It may require a little more investment upfront, but it reduces management overhead and offers an enterprise-grade scalable network, robust management interface, and useful reporting capabilities at a reasonable cost.
Beyond the network infrastructure, invest in devices for your employees that surpass recommended minimum specifications for their use-case to speed up the user experience, reduce issues, increase productivity, and allow for expanded future use. For servers and storage needs, stick to the cloud unless there’s a strong reason it will not work for your situation. Maintain supported operating systems, which is much simpler and less costly when you’re in the cloud, and commit to a refresh cycle.
Computers, and servers if you must own them, degrade significantly in performance each year and old machines’ slower performance directly impacts your employees’ productivity and increases overhead support costs. Computing devices are cheap when you compare them to your payroll. Like it or not, most organizations productivity is highly dependent now on their network, computing infrastructure, and internet connections.
The Best, Scalable Technology Management Strategy
Strictly in terms of the best, scalable technology management strategy, outsourcing to a best-in-class managed services provider is hands down the most scalable approach.
Managed Services Providers already have scale and efficiencies to their operations. They have deeper teams of engineers than you’d employ, allowing for greater coverage and continuity, in-house subject matter experts within different aspects of technology, deploy standardized processes they’ve refined at scale, and they deploy scalable management solutions. Managed Services Providers pricing models often scale flexibly as well. Compare that to having to hire another person every time your existing IT staff hits 110% capacity.
Building out an in-house IT team just doesn’t compete in terms of ability to scale with a Managed Services Provider. The ease of scaling is not the only consideration regarding how to manage your technology, but if you intend to scale your organization, especially quickly, it is a material concern you should weigh appropriately.
Now that you have a Framework for a strategy to provide the best, scalable office technology solutions, get the building blocks in place ASAP and go do what you really want to do, scale your business!