121. Is stopping things going wrong in the first place better than firefighting?

Writing this in Week 20 of Covid-19 Lockdown (early August 2020) we continue to see budgets being squeezed and headcounts under pressure. And this is only going to get worse as we emerge from Lockdown and the furloughing scheme is phased out.

We have consistently been drawing attention to the benefits of outsourcing; after all, Tectona outsource some of our requirements (IT, web development and social media).

And, of course, that is also what Tectona do – provide outsourced CFO services!

Caveat: Outsourcing is not the right solution for every business.

But for those (and they will typically be SMEs) where it can pay dividends, let’s look at one service that it makes total sense to outsource – your IT and your cyber security. To help you make up your mind if it is right for you, here are some of the things we think you need to consider:

1. Security and Reliability

Whether you realise it or not, the security and reliability of your IT system is paramount to your business. The vast majority of businesses cease trading within two years if they suffer a significant security or data breach, so this is not a subject to treat lightly!

2. In-house resource – eggs in one basket?

If the IT function is handled internally by one person, whether it is fully their job role or just part time, it presents a potentially very big problem. For example, what happens when they take holiday, go off sick, or worse, leave? Spreading the workload/skillset internally maybe one answer, but without proper training and procedures this can also be a recipe for disaster. Some measure of outsourcing can help complement internal staff availability, and where trust is built up this may prove to be the first step to complete outsourcing.

Internally resourcing IT within a smaller business (with less than, say, 100 employees and where only one IT person is required) can present a few other challenges too. You will probably want someone who is great with tech, great with people, strategically astute and up to speed on all the latest technology. These people exist, but not many are going to be content working in a business that has modest IT needs and isn’t on a continual growth and development path. What you will likely end up with is either a “steady Eddie” who lacks the depth and breadth of experience and the strategic insight you’d like to tap into; or an empire builder who will continually justify more and more IT expense to satisfy their curiosity and even their very own existence!

3. Cost

So, if you’re thinking that maybe outsourcing your IT is worth considering, what are the other advantages? An obvious one is cost:

  • If you go for a fixed price support arrangement and engage a company that has figured out that stopping things going wrong in the first place is way better than firefighting, then you will have an alignment of interests and you will be the key beneficiary
  • Some fixed price support arrangements will also include a range of services aimed at keeping you and your infrastructure secure and reliable; were you not outsourcing you would still need these services but they would be an additional cost

4. Your outsource provider

Pretty much any support company will have a team of professionals that can bring many, many years of experience to bear when you either have a problem or need to think strategically about how IT serves your business.

You may think that all IT companies are much the same. After all, they will have all the skills and solutions needed and it’s just a matter of picking one near me, isn’t it?

And, just like any other service or business, some are more equal than others! A recommendation (particularly from someone whose business has similar needs to your own) can be invaluable.

However, many businesses seem to be happy to put up with poor service, high fees, long contracts and poor solutions because they don’t know any better! A free review from an alternative provider can be eye-opening.

That is why we work closely with Jireh Solutions Ltd. They are a small company (10 staff) with a passion for getting it right every time. And they are even offering that free review.

Their customer feedback is second to none; here are a couple of examples:

We’ve realised that it’s a false economy to try and set up and sort out any IT problems ourselves. The relatively small amount we pay a month is worth its weight in gold.

Gareth Wood, The Really Helpful Marketing Company

Jireh Solutions take care of our entire IT systems and infrastructure. They are always helpful, knowledgeable and provide us with a great level of service.

Jan Bowen-Nielson, Quiver Management

About Tectona

Tectona Partnership helps business owners sleep at night by embedding one of our 15 commercially minded CFOs in your management team. Very often, a part time CFO is the most effective solution for smaller businesses.

We make sure you have the necessary management information and strategic insight to make informed decisions. We will tell you what you need to know, when you need to know it.

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