The following is a guest post.
Practically all businesses rely heavily on IT, whether you are a large corporation or a small home business with a handful of staff. IT is a valuable tool for running and growing your business, but it can also seem like a hindrance when it doesn’t work with you.
As you grow your business you will have to address your IT systems and ensure that they are scalable and can grow with you. What follows, are a few things that you will need to consider to keep things running smoothly:
Managing your customers is probably one of the most important parts of any business and one of the hardest to scale. When you start out you might only have a handful of customers, so remembering what has been ordered and managing fulfilment might be quite easy.
But what do you do when you have 2, 3 or 10 times as many customers?
Before you can effectively grow, you need to plan how you will handle a large volume of customers. What systems will you have to manage orders or projects and how will you track communications to multiple customers from multiple members of staff?
One popular solution worth considering is using customer relationship management software (CRM for short) — there are plenty of options (Microsoft Dynamics is a popular and solid option) Whatever you do though, you will have to consider your process and ensure that you can handle the extra load without customer service suffering.
Data management means different things to different businesses, but as you grow, one of the main issues will be in tracking who has what data and who has done what.
If a member of staff has actioned a task, you need to have protocols in place so that that information is available to other relevant members of staff.
Having processes like this will ensure that your staff know how to record actions and share information which will keep everyone in the loop and keep your business running efficiently.
One helpful tool to consider is Google docs for small scale collaboration, although you may need more scalable processes if you have other data needs.
Backup / Disaster Recovery
Most businesses have a lot of important data that either helps them to run smoothly or even that is vital to doing business. What would happen to your business if you suddenly lost all of your data?
As your business grows, so does your risk. You will have important data stored in several different locations, from your website’s server to staff computers, emails and removable memory.
Backup is never a problem until it is — at which point it can break your business if you haven’t planned ahead.
Simple tools like Dropbox are a great way to consolidate files, but as your data dependency grows you should ensure that your other important data is also backed up (especially customer data) too.
If you are selling online, tracking stock levels is a key task, but not always an easy one. Early on you might do this manually, but consider how you will manage it when you have twice as much stock to account for.
You may also have the challenge of selling across multiple platforms, like eBay, Amazon and your own website.
One solution is to split your stock, but this obviously isn’t optimal, so having a central management system may be necessary to manage orders and inventory.
This guest post was written by George from Advantage Business Systems, experts in managed IT services, finance software and tech support for businesses like yours. Ricky is a self-confessed tech geek and computer lover!