To deliver value, SMB IT managers need room to breathe

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Technology can have a transformational impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of small businesses, but it’s hard for IT managers within those organisations to focus on delivering that technology when they’re constantly firefighting the day-to-day concerns involved in keeping the lights on. 

In this feature, we’ll explore why small-businesses IT teams often tend to be time-poor, and how consolidating the technology tools within an organisation’s estate can give them the breathing space they need to enact real transformation within the business, positioning GoTo’s product portfolio as an ideal way to minimise management overheads while maintaining consistent levels of service.

Over the last several years, technology has changed and evolved dramatically, to the point where many of the tools that we use on a day-to-day basis are unrecognisable compared to what they were before. Technology has worked its way into every corner of our lives, and in few places is that more the case than in business. 

Businesses are now more reliant on technology than ever before, which powers everything from payment processing and financial transactions, to the communication and collaboration tools that we use to talk to our customers and coworkers. Even smaller businesses are now heavily dependent on digital tools, with many using the power of the cloud to simplify workloads which would otherwise be impossible to tackle with limited headcounts. 

Indeed, modern IT gives small businesses access to tools which would have previously only been available to larger organisations, including video conferencing, machine learning, scalable infrastructure and much more. However, while the breadth and complexity of these organisations’ IT environments has continually grown, the IT teams tasked with managing them often haven’t. 

Woman using laptop in front of servers

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More tasks for smaller IT teams

IT staff within smaller organisations are frequently under-resourced - often thanks to the assumption that other areas of the business offer a better return on investment - and can commonly be made up of small teams of generalists in charge of almost all technical aspects of a company’s operations.

In practice, this means that a team of sometimes less than ten people can be managing the patching, troubleshooting and maintenance all of an organisation's physical hardware - including PCs, wireless networks, printers and storage arrays - as well as all of the software that it needs to run, such as email systems, back-office applications and document creation software, not to mention all the management and monitoring systems used to keep all of that up and running.

In larger organisations, this may not be a problem, as they can split responsibilities for different categories - or even specific products - between different teams or individuals. For small businesses with smaller headcounts, however, it presents a significant challenge. A small team of, for example, three to five IT professionals is going to have trouble managing all of those separate tools whilst also firefighting the day-to-day support concerns of a normal company.

With this in mind, it’s no surprise that small-business IT departments tend to be more time-poor than other areas of the company, or indeed than their counterparts in larger organisations. These teams can often find themselves stretched just keeping the lights on and the wheels turning, and unfortunately this doesn’t leave much time spare for planning or implementing projects which might provide more value to the business in the long run. 

Projects like system migrations, infrastructure modernisation and automation deployments all require time to carry out, but in order to make that time, IT departments will need to explore ways to give themselves a bit of extra room to breathe. The simplest answer is just to hire more staff, making it easier to spread the workload between multiple people, but this isn’t always going to be a popular suggestion for cash-strapped small businesses. 

When in doubt, consolidate

Another option, however, is to consolidate the number of tools that your organisation is using. There are many areas of modern business software - particularly among cloud-based platforms which may offer a range of capabilities or products within a single subscription - where redundant tools can be eliminated by increasing the utilisation of another existing platform.

For example, If the business comms platform that a company uses to provide its telephony service also includes the capacity to support video conferencing, there’s no need to also have an active Zoom subscription in use within the business. Not only can this be a potential money-saver, it also means that the IT department has one less product on its list of things to monitor, manage and update.

GoTo Connect’s cloud platform includes not only voice communication services, but also contact centre capabilities and video tools, all of which are covered by a single subscription, allowing IT teams to eliminate tool redundancy within their environments, saving money and streamlining the complexity of the organisation’s tool stack. 

This principle can also be applied to internal IT systems. For all but the most basic of IT estates, a large part of the work that goes into maintaining it is checking the various logs, dashboards and consoles that monitor system status for potential errors. Most if not all business-focused technology will include some kind of monitoring dashboard, but manually swapping between consoles showing the health of your network, storage, cloud apps and security can eat a surprising amount of an IT department’s time.

Instead, the feeds from all of these disparate systems can be combined into a single umbrella platform, which can then be used to monitor, manage and support all the various elements of an organisation’s IT stack. In doing so, IT teams can save time and reduce the amount of steps needed to perform a task or resolve an issue, and that extra time can be put towards more valuable initiatives.

GoToResolve Remote Support

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GoTo Resolve, for example, includes remote monitoring and management tools to give small business IT staff better control and visibility over the systems and devices that coworkers rely on, allowing them to quickly detect and remediate a range of issues without having to juggle separate consoles. GoTo customers can also take advantage of a consolidated approach to tooling by using one unified interface to manage their deployments of both GoTo Resolve and GoTo Connect, with smart integrations between the two SaaS suites to speed up operational workflows and enable faster administration.

Office Employees

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IT tools are intended to save time

Time is arguably the most precious commodity in modern IT, and this is especially true for small businesses. In order to operate at maximum efficiency, organisations should make sure that their IT tools and infrastructure are helping them save time, instead of costing them unnecessary time in management overheads that could be spent on more productive tasks. 

GoTo’s seamless and connected approach to IT administration allows small business IT teams to reclaim their precious time, with fluid dashboards and intelligent automation tools to allow them to focus their efforts on using technology to deliver real value for their organisations.