Otherwise known as “The Fallacy of Self-Sufficiency”.
Small businesses try to save money wherever they can. When it comes to IT, they very frequently rely upon a well-intentioned relative, friend or employee to install computers, printers, networks, etc. Very infrequently do they consult with an IT professional. Good intentions are no substitute for professional advice and support. A professional may add some costs in the beginning, but those costs will help avoid much higher costs in the future.
Unless the business is a sole proprietorship with no employees, selecting the right technology becomes more complex. There is far more involved than just installing a computer, getting an internet connection and a printer. However, that is the way many small businesses get started. Decisions madelike this will usually lead to higher hardware costs, lost productivity, lost information, lost customers, and potentially, a lost business.
A major consideration is whether the information used to run the business will need to be shared between and among employees. Sharing information without having a file sharing network, even if for 2 people, can rapidly become a problem. It is not uncommon at all for a document to be “lost” because the document’s name was changed, accidentally moved, written over, accidentally deleted, etc. You can easily see how problems like this can cascade and seriously interrupt a business.
If file sharing is needed, then an investment must be made in a file server. A server costs more, but with a well specified computer, it can start at a lower price point and then be scaled upwards with the growth of the business. Licensed server software is required and is an added expense, but it too can be scaled upwards as the growth occurs. This is an area where there are many choices and the chance of not specifying a server correctly by a non-professional is great. An expert can help in specifying as well as installing the computer and the server software.
As the business grows, there is a great temptation to buy inexpensive computers “on sale” at a big box store, or on the internet. This is usually a costly mistake. We have had customers who have purchased computers on sale, and then find that they need a different operating system to put the computers on the network. This meant buying the right licenses and hiring us to deinstall and reinstall operating systems. It also meant higher total purchase costs.
Since it is nearly impossible to conduct business without being on the internet, this means that there is a layer of complexity that is often not understood, or underestimated by non-professionals. To conduct business using the internet means that there must be an understanding of what all is needed, and then how to select, install and monitor all of the equipment on the network. These are important decisions, because the productivity of employees and protection of the network is at stake. Paying for some expert advice is well worth it.
Another overlooked need for business networks is a consistent supply of power. Servers in particular must not be shut down except under controlled conditions. Servers that are shutdown by loss of power are often damaged resulting in data loss. Simple power strips are not enough. Too often it is assumed that power strips protect against power fluctuations. They usually provide some protection against power spikes, but they will not protect against power drops. Power drops are what crash computers.
A simple, but frequent problem occurs when a server and related equipment are added to a circuit that may be easily overloaded. If a circuit breaker is tripped, and the server is not on an adequate battery backup, then it will shutdown improperly, which nearly always leads to long downtimes and increased expense. So, obviously battery backups are required for servers. There is just no avoiding it. Protecting a computer system is a matter of risk management. It is like buying any other kind of insurance for protection against unpredictable problems. Therefore, the same kind of professional help is required.
And then there is your data. Your data is your business. This data can be lost because of hardware failure, software corruption, human error, etc. This means that businesses must have some form of dailybackups – another kind of insurance. Statistics show that most backups for small businesses are worthless, for a variety of reasons. There are many, many ways of getting this done and a professional can help find the best options for each situation.
These are just the basic essentials in having a computer system that will support a company’s growth. Others include spam protection, virus protection, software selection, phone communications, integration of mobile devices, printer selection, scanning, and many others. Expert IT professionals can help with all of these decisions.