There are plenty of articles that have great advice, in great detail, about what to know if you want to scale your business, or how to know you’re ready. But let’s say you know you’re set to scale. How do you make sure you’ve got the right technology to do so?
By investing pre-growth time to take stock of your current situation and establish a solid plan, you’ll be doing yourself, and your company, an enormous favor. Sometimes growth feels like it’s happening at a breakneck speed—but by stopping to consider what and how you’ll need to scale your technology to align with your business’s development, you’ll be preventing oversights, struggles, and even costly errors. Here are a few rules to guide your telecommunications and technology plans as you prepare to grow.
First, evaluate what’s already in place. Take a meticulous audit of what you’re using today. There are certainly some gaps that exist even in your current infrastructure. Think about on-site and remote employees, and what they need now to do their jobs. Are they using outdated mobile devices, or receiving spotty network access? Make sure your current systems are in a good place before you begin augmenting them.
Then, think long term. Look closely at the forecast for your business’s growth, and make a plan not just for the next year, but the next two, five, or even 10. You don’t have a crystal ball to tell you every item of tech that’ll be available to you, but you can build and plan using what you know today. And get specific: Use actual data and projections to help guide your long-term strategy.
Never stop thinking about growth. With every decision you make, don’t just ask yourself how you’ll benefit immediately. Imagine you’ll continue to scale at this rate for the next several years. You might be constantly tweaking your plan, but at least you’ll have one.
Go modular. Invest in technologies and networks that can be easily augmented down the road. Instead of buying one huge mechanism or platform that can’t be modified, find ways to cluster and add components to each other to grow bandwidth and capability.
Don’t skimp. Putting a few inexpensive stopgaps in place won’t work in the long run—and probably not in the short run, either. It’s far more cost-effective to invest early in tech that will grow with you than it is to spend the minimum on less-than-optimal tools you’ll need to replace sooner rather than later.
Count on the cloud. Rather than investing in costly hardware that will be obsolete while you’re still growing, consider shifting some of your technology to web-based platforms. As cloud computing becomes both more available and more sophisticated, online services like data storage and telephony are leaving their carbon counterparts in the dust.
Remember: Implementation isn’t the end state. Integration is. Training on new technology is just as critical as implementing the technology itself. Don’t give employees something that’s going to make it easier for them to do their jobs without teaching them why and how that’s going to happen. If you have low adoption, you’ve invested a lot for very little return.
Consider multiple devices. Not every employee or customer is going to be using the same exact technology. Staff in the field could be connecting remotely with VPN or logging on from their personal computers via web portal. Those who use their personal mobile devices for work email and phone service won’t all have the same phone. And customers may still be calling you from a landline. Make sure that when you’re growing, your solutions support multiple platforms and operating systems.
Research your vendors. Providers aren’t one-size-fits-all. Look for partners that offer great customer service and support and serve a variety of organizations, ranging in size from a couple of friends in a garage to a burgeoning enterprise. If your providers can’t give you great service, you could be at a disadvantage when it comes to passing on great service to your customers.
Growing your business is complicated. But we’re here to answer your questions about scaling tech to meet your goals. Check out our eBook, Say Hello to the Right Technology, for tips on how to address common organizational technology hiccups. And, learn more about Frontier hosted solutions, which are custom-built based on your company’s size and needs.
Darina Musharev is a freelance writer from Chicago whose work focuses primarily on Business and Marketing. She enjoys traveling, live music, and collaging