It is no secret that some IT management companies will offer an IT consultation which is actually a salesperson coming in to sell you products and services that you may or may not know your business needs.
This is NOT an IT consultant – Neuways have a team of IT consultants who only deal with IT strategy and technology planning with more than 30 years of experience. This means they have seen all the trends and pitfalls giving you complete piece of mind that their advice is based on nothing but industry best-practice and not a sales opportunity.
So, what does an IT consultant bring to your business?
The biggest benefit business’s find when recruiting the services of an experienced IT consultant is the reduced risk within their business.
Whether it is;
- the security of your data,
- protection against hardware malfunction,
- system change or migration or
- future-planning, an IT consultant will reduce the amount of risk your business is currently handling.
As a Board, there are a multitude of risk factors you must navigate and mitigate against and the majority of them are linked, in some way, to the technology and systems your business uses. And there are significant financial and sometimes, legal implications to not addressing these risks head on.
The most recent regulation to effect businesses is GDPR which requires your business, and its staff, to handle and store personal data in a secure and responsible manner. This process begins with identifying personal data which can be held in a number of places across different systems, all the responsibility of different departments, who each have their own data processes.
An IT consultant will help you identify what personal data looks like and how it can be streamlined to make sure your business doesn’t breach GDPR. They will help you to protect and collate it into a secure location. So many businesses still manage a significant amount of their data in Spreadsheets and it can be a daunting task to move away from this, but an experienced IT consultant will show you the options and explain how to manage the transition to the best solution for your business.
The consequences of not being GDPR compliant could result an administrative fine of up to 4% of annual global turnover or £20 million – whichever is greater.
Other sensitive and confidential data that businesses wouldn’t want to be accessed by anyone outside of the business includes; legal papers, accounting and financial information, health records or information regarding national security. The consequences of this data being made accessible, accidentally or maliciously, outside the business could be catastrophic, not just financially but on a human level.
An IT consultant will understand the risk associated with your business’s data and advise you on how to best mitigate the risk. They will advise on the best systems to use, the necessary processes and procedures to put in place and how to plan against data breaches in the future.
This brings us nicely onto the security risks faced by any business who uses emails, the internet or any other IT or technology-based system as part of their business.
Almost all businesses use emails to communicate with customers, prospects, suppliers and staff, which is why they are the chosen gateway for cyber criminals. With 91% of cyber-attacks beginning with a spear phishing email (KnowBe4), your IT consultant will talk to you about email security and the importance of running the best systems on the market and keeping them up to date.
Alongside email security, your IT consultant will discuss the essentials of cyber security with you; end-point security, network security and backup. In addition to these “basics” a good IT consultant will also mention potential threats such as the consequences of having your business data available on the dark web and, depending on the risk factor involved in your business data, the benefits of dark web monitoring.
End user training is another security measure a good quality IT consultant will discuss with you as end users can be the weakest point in any organisation’s cyber security. Almost all staff use email and will have password protected devices – the two main focus-points for the cyber criminals.
Neuways Top Tip:
Include your staff in your IT strategy and see them as an integral part of your IT and technology infrastructure setup because without their buy-in, cooperation and understanding of the IT they are using, your business can become very unsafe, very quickly. Invest in your staff as part of your IT strategy.
Another significant agenda point for any IT consultant will be to talk about your existing backup processes and your business continuity plans should the worst happen.
They will want to know what your backup plans consist of, where your data is currently backed-up to and how often this happens. There are a number of different vulnerabilities when it comes to backups and an IT consultant will want to know how it works currently so they can identify points of weakness and make recommendations.
But the most crucial part of this conversation will be your business’s disaster recovery and business continuity strategy because, the truth of the situation is that 90% of businesses without a disaster recovery plan will fail after a disaster.
Disasters happen that can result in data being lost or losing its integrity:
- Fire or flooding
- Stolen hardware from offices or from individuals
- Lost hardware such as phone or laptops
- Malicious or careless members of staff
- A ransomware or malware attack
Your IT consultant will initially assess the protection afforded by your existing backup and continuity provision and advise you on what can be improved. Your business continuity plans need to be sufficiently robust to minimise the disruption to your customers, your staff, your suppliers and ultimately, your cash flow.
Collaborative Working – Increased Productivity
An IT consultant will need to know what you are trying to achieve as a business, and the majority of the time, businesses are looking to increase efficiencies and productivity. The technology and IT systems your organisation uses will have a significant impact on how efficient and productive you can be and your IT consultant will look at the suitability of migrating you to alternatives such as cloud computing.
Cloud computing is the delivery of computing services such as servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, intelligence and more, via the Internet – the cloud.
The Cloud offers faster innovation, flexible resources and economies of scale. You typically only pay for cloud services you use, helping lower your operating costs, run your infrastructure more efficiently and scale as your business grows.
However, there situations and circumstances where a particular deployment of cloud computing might be more suitable than another, and this is where your IT consultant will be able to advise you; should you be using private, public or hybrid cloud solutions?
Knowing this before you commit to deployment will save you time, money and stress.
Remember, your IT consultant should make recommendations based on what is best for your business and if they are suggesting something new or different from your existing systems and technology, they should also talk to you about how to implement these changes with minimum disruption. Change management is a significant part of an IT consultants role and if they don’t offer this, perhaps they aren’t the right consultant for your business.
Finally, an IT consultant can help your business to maximise the lifespan of your IT hardware. In a world of disposable technology that can easily, and often cheaply, be replaced, businesses can find they have a higher than expected IT bill which shows no sign of decreasing.
Your IT consultant will look holistically at the hardware used in your business, from both an end user and wider system, perspective. Depending on their recommendations for other changes to your IT strategy, your existing hardware, such as servers, may no longer be the required specification or completely obsolete.
An IT consultant will look at your business plans, projected business growth and create a hardware plan that looks at longevity rather than a break-replace culture that can easily creep in without being noticed.
How do Neuways IT consultants add value to your business?
The initial phase the Neuways IT consultants will take is to conduct a business needs analysis (BNA) which, depending on the size and structure of your business, can take several visits. This process is the most important as they need to establish the objectives and plans all stakeholders have for the business and the existing IT strategy.
It is essential our IT consultants know how your business works and what the future focus and goals are. It is this initial fact-finding that is the difference between a salesperson and an IT consultant. Neuways work alongside your organisation as a business partner to establish how it works, what processes, resources, systems and procedures already exist which means the advice they ultimately go on to provide is working with and not against your business.
The BNA will be presented back to you along with a series of recommendations which will be bespoke to your business’s needs.
Our recommendations will always come with a number of options to make sure you have all the information you need to make informed decisions. Neuways IT consultants want what is best for your business and their recommendations will reflect this. You can also rest assured that you are benefiting from their more than 30 years of experience which means they know all the pitfalls to avoid and how to achieve the best results possible.
Having made their recommendations, in the form of an IT strategy, we will work with you to agree the final version. Once this has been agreed, our IT consultants will create an implementation plan which will include a project plan to minimise impact on the day to day running of your business and make sure key performance indicators and deadlines are all met.
Regular meetings with your key stakeholders will be held with our IT consultant to update on implementation progress. Once the IT strategy has been implemented, you will always be able to contact our team of consultants to provide further advice and guidance to make sure you are always getting the best from your technology and systems.
Our IT experts are only a phone call away on 01283 753333.