Several components are vital to a business’s day-to-day operations. But, in
today’s highly technological world, Information Technology (IT) is one of the
most important aspects of any business. And
any time you talk about IT, you talk about
ROI (return on investment).

Staying on top of ever-changing technologies is imperative to a business’s success,
because if technology is passing you by, then
it’s likely your competitors are, as well.
Owners who overlook IT or treat it as just
another line item are doing themselves and
their companies a great disservice, says Rory
Sanchez, president and CEO of SLPowers.

“Many say that IT is a necessary evil and
simply belongs in the expense category, but,
like anything else, it needs to align with your
business goals and provide a return by way of
efficiencies and productivity,” Sanchez says.

Smart Business spoke with Sanchez about
IT services and how to know that you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

How can you measure returns on your IT

The process starts by understanding the
total cost of ownership of IT. Far too often,
companies look at the price of the hardware
or the initial installation and make their decisions based on lowering that cost. The reality
is that the price you pay to purchase and
install hardware and software is just a fraction of the total cost of ownership. A much
larger portion will go toward training, maintenance and support over the life of the technology. Thus, companies need to set their
sights on the big picture, optimize the way
they handle these variables, and turn IT into
a productivity tool that aligns with their business practices and goals. Also, using tried
and true software in proven platforms will go
a long way in enhancing your IT ROI.

What are the key components to a good
IT/network set-up?

Building a solid IT infrastructure is just like
building a solid home; it starts at the foundation. First is the physical layer, which
includes the cabling infrastructure, wireless
access points, the routers, switches and
other connectivity points. If you’re going with
a Microsoft-Windows-based network, you
can argue that the operating system is the
most important issue and that all hardware is
created equal, but this couldn’t be further
from the truth. Servers from Hewlett
Packard and IBM are designed from the
ground up to be servers and each and every
component is designed for proper cooling
and continuous operations. Not all servers
are built alike and not all servers are tested to
the same degree when it comes to compatibility with Microsoft software.

If your IT and network aren’t up to snuff, how
will business be affected?

The business world is constantly changing
and evolving, and you always want to stay
ahead of your competition. IT is like a car; a
newer car will run better and get you where
you need to go better than an older car. But,
that doesn’t mean everything is built the
same. All IT is generic to a certain degree, but
running on the latest platforms and keeping
systems updated is essential. Another thing
to consider is security. All businesses use the
Internet in some way, shape or form, and
there are all kinds of dangers online these
days. Keeping systems up to date will help
keep your business secure.

What are the biggest mistakes companies
make when selecting IT services?

The first, and probably biggest, mistake
companies make is shopping on price
instead of value, and not properly planning
their network infrastructures. It’s always
worth the money to figure out exactly what
IT your business needs and what you want to
accomplish with it. Many companies complain that they spend thousands of dollars on
IT, and the technology doesn’t work for them.
Usually, it’s because they didn’t spend the
time and money upfront to make the right IT

Another mistake is when growing companies start off with small systems and continue to add pieces over the years as business
grows. Whether you like it or not, at some
point, you’re going to have to do a complete
overhaul. Take a step back, re-evaluate your
situation and rethink new structures that will
enhance and grow your business.

A third mistake is relying on an internal IT
department because you think it costs less.
Sure, a salaried IT person will always be on-site for you, but you could get the same level
of service — at a fraction of the cost — by
outsourcing. Then, you are getting all the
resources of the outsourcing company,
rather than the resources of just one individual. Plus, the outsourcing company doesn’t
take sick or vacation days, and you don’t
have to pay to keep it trained and up to date
on new technologies.

How can good IT lead to better business?

No matter how you use the Internet or
other technologies, good IT will lead to
increased customer confidence, efficiency
and productivity. Good IT will permeate
throughout the entire organization, and your
clients will see it. Having IT that stores customers’ data is great. When they call, you’ll be
able to pull up their past orders and purchase
agreements and even know their family
members’ names and birth dates. This sort of
personal touch is what customers are craving
in today’s market. And, IT facilitates good
customer service.

RORY SANCHEZ is the president and CEO of SLPowers. Reach him at (561) 835-8351 or [email protected].

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