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Why you shouldn’t do business IT on the cheap

Hi all,

Some thoughts on value for money when it comes to IT …

I’m a Yorkshireman. Our county has a reputation for thrift – which is a polite way of saying we’re a bunch of tight b*stards. There’s some truth to this stereotype. If you want to see someone from Yorkshire go blue in the face, just tell them the price of a pint in London.

So given all this, you might think the title of this blog is going against type. But it actually isn’t. You know the saying “buy cheap, buy twice”? Well, it applies with business IT. In my 30-odd years in the industry, I’ve seen a lot of businesses (especially SMEs) scrimp and save on IT.

They’ll have the bare minimum (if anything) in cyber-security or disaster recovery plans, and a hodgepodge of barely adequate systems and devices. Of course, we all need to avoid unnecessary expenses, and now more than ever. But the key word there is “unnecessary”. If you scrimp too much, you end up vulnerable to things that can cost you everything, like cyber-attacks.  

So while I respect the penny-pinching, it’s a false economy. In the end, it’s a recipe for downtime and inefficiency, and an open door to cyber-criminals. All of these things cost time and money that could be better spent elsewhere.

For me, there are four big mistakes when it comes to this stuff. They are:

1. Rubbish cyber-security

Let’s imagine an SME. The people who run it are smart and know their field. But when it comes to cyber-security, they know next to nothing. They think phishing is how you catch mackerel, and that a firewall is a round on Total Wipeout. Far as they’re concerned, a cyber-attack is something out of a spy film, and it certainly won’t happen to them. Until it does.

The way I see it is this. If you’re a business, however small, you handle money and sensitive information. Unfortunately, there are some nasty little sh*ts out there who want to get their hands on that. All the stats show that cyber-crime went up in lockdown, and SMEs, frankly, are seen as easy targets. But you don’t have to be an easy target. If you invest in anti-phishing training, firewalls and good-quality anti-virus software, you’re much less likely to pay a cost you can’t afford.

2. No disaster recovery plan

Let’s say you have an outage, or one of your systems goes down. Or, perhaps, someone’s laptop claps out when they’re in the middle of something. These things happen. Two questions though. 1) What happens to your work? And 2), how long before you’re up and running again? If you don’t have a plan in place, or everything is stored on hardware, the answers to these questions will not be good.

At best, losing work, data and uptime is a waste of time and money. But clearly it can be worse than that if you lose something important. The old adage applies here: hope for the best, plan for the worst. A proper disaster recovery plan does two things: it reduces the likelihood of downtime, and it minimises the impact of any downtime you do have. Just simply migrating work to the cloud goes a long way here. Which brings me to …

3. Lack of flexibility

Even after the pandemic and increase in remote work, there are still people who think cloud migration is how planes get turbulence. I’ve mentioned how moving your business to the cloud helps with disaster recovery. It also stops you from being chained to the office. What you really don’t want is to be held back by tech, when the whole purpose of technology is to help!

4. Lack of updates

It’s daft to throw money willy-nilly at all the latest tech, but it’s not a common problem. What I see more is at the other end of the scale: old kit, old versions of Windows, unmaintained, and about as up-to-date as my taste in music. This is because people often treat IT as a one-off thing. The trouble with this is that when it becomes completely useless, it forces you into more big bulk purchases later down the line. And in the meantime, it’s more likely to slow you down, and more vulnerable to cyber-crime.   

The answer is regular maintenance: keep things updated, monitor systems, and choose hardware very carefully. This will get more life out of the tech you do have, as well as making sure it performs as well as it can.

What to do

OK, I’ll spare you the full sales pitch, but obviously I wouldn’t have much of an opinion on this if I didn’t think we could help. At Biscuit we provide managed IT services, which basically means we can do anything an in-house IT department would do. We can help with everything I’ve mentioned above and more, and I really do think it’s a great option to take all those IT worries off your mind.  

But apart from all that, I hope I’ve convinced you that there’s a difference between cost and investment. If you make the right investments in IT, it can make you more efficient and less at risk of downtime or cyber-attacks. And if you don’t make those investments, you’re much more likely to pay those costs.

If you’d like a chat with me, or a member of our team, call us on 01924 241281.