Every office needs technology to function, but not every office has its own IT department to help guide them through the maze of hardware and managed services. If you’re without this dedicated IT team, you might be wondering—what tech is truly essential for my workplace?
Not much, say experts. “You really don’t need anything besides five phones and five laptops if you have five employees,” said Shannon Giedieviells, a consultant at Bedrock Cloud Solutions. Unless your company has special technological needs, like the printing capacity for a graphic design firm or the layers of cyber protection needed for a financial business, starting costs for an efficient technology setup can be low.
Simple setups are also the easiest, most cost-effective, and adaptable as a company grows. But don’t think you’re set just because you have wifi and a Slack channel. These are the key considerations when building an effective tech setup for your workplace.
Tech Adaptability Is an Asset for Growing Companies
When thinking about how technology should be configured in a new business, keep adaptability top of mind. You should never buy or subscribe to anything that can’t be removed or replaced easily. If growth is the goal for your company, you’ll want to outgrow your technology setup as well.
- Avoid tech contracts that depend on a certain number of users or amount of data, particularly contracts that last more than a year.
- Some pieces of hardware, like phones and phone switch configuration systems, come in packages designed for businesses with a certain number of employees. Ask yourself if these are really necessary at this stage. They may be too much for now or too little for later.
- Buy everything you can wireless. Such equipment is easier to disassemble and move.
- Start with the simplest email, customer relationship management, and task management programs. You can always invest in something more advanced later.
Start With the Free Version
From Slack to Google Drive to Skype, popular desktop programs often have paid “business” or “enterprise” versions with added benefits. Some expand data or storage capacity, increase security, and/or allow access to more specialized customer service teams.
Upgrade when you start spending too much time to get the things you would instantaneously with a paid version. If your free version isn’t cutting it, only then look at what the “business” variation offers.
Beware of Cloud Companies That "Lock in" Your Data
While some service providers offer the same expertise as an IT department at a large company, others provide cloud service packages at a much more appealing price. But there’s often a catch with these cloud-based companies: it’s hard to leave without losing your data.
Many of the packaged deals today are cloud-subscriptions that hold your business hostage. They’ll protect your network as long as you pay them, but should you choose to stop, you won’t be taking your information with you.
Customers can become so unconsciously dependent on these services, they forget how much they feed into it: customer databases, promotional materials, emails and agreements between contractors, in-progress reports and paperwork. Moving to another company that’s a better fit for your workplace without compromising these materials can become nearly impossible.
But don’t fret! If you look hard enough and are willing to ask questions, you should be able to find a company in your area that provides near enterprise level services without the enterprise price and without the subscription lock-in.
Don’t Look for a One-Size-Fits-All Solution
Startups and new businesses often wish there was one package for all their beginner tech needs, but it's not so simple. Each small business is unique, so start with the basics: phones, laptops, emails, a Slack account for group communications, and go from there.
If you really think you’re missing out by not having more or if you’re looking for advice about the best tech solutions for your unique workplace, Managed by Q can help. Check out the IT & Security services on our dashboard, and get connected with a professional today.