Growing fast? It is never too early to build a scalable IT Strategy.
Businesses today have the ability to grow, scale and change more quickly than at any time in history. In a fast-growing company, there is so much to think about. For many companies, building a scalable IT Program seems like a luxury they neither have the time, the mental energy, nor the money to afford.
However, businesses are more dependent than ever on their IT program to maintain open lines of communication, broker access to information, and even to build and reinforce their culture. While the prospect of building an IT foundation can seem daunting, starting with a solid IT strategy from the start can help power your business’s growth. Here are some considerations, and some easy things you can do, to ensure your IT program is ready to support your growing team at each phase.
1-10 employees: a BYOD IT Program
During this phase, the team is scrappily doing what they need to do to survive. Process and strategy often give way to experimentation and changing priorities. The team is able to fit in one room or collaborate on the same video call. There may only be the need for one formal meeting team per week.
For the IT program, there are some common trends during this phase. First, many, if not all of the devices are personally owned (or BYOD – “bring your own device”). Additionally, the business is reliant heavily on outside contractors, advisors, and freelancers. Additionally, the founder(s) act as the IT administrators, holding all of the keys to company systems. The combination of unmanaged BYOD devices, a single key holder, and the broad and unmonitored access to the system by contractors pose some long-term security challenges.
Here are some easy ways and tips to build a more robust IT program as you are starting out. First, create a record of who has access to what systems, folders, and groups. This will make it easier to cut access when someone leaves the company or when a contractor rolls off of a project. Second, consider adding a second administrator for key systems. This will make ensure that the company is not stuck if a key individual is suddenly unavailable. Lastly, consider asking your employees and contractors to enable FileVault on their personal computers and BitLocker on their PCs.
10-30 employees: the need for IT basics
Things happen by committee or by consensus. Everyone knows who to go to for help. Even without clear structure and accountability, things get done. The importance of structure, process, and communication begins to emerge.
During this phase, the need for an IT foundation becomes evident. One important consideration for the IT program is to transition to company owed devices and to deploy device management (“MDM”) tools. This ensures that company devices can be locked and wiped if lost or stolen, protecting company data, in addition to enforcing policies and updates. Additionally, companies should consider deploying a business-grade anti-virus tool, backing up their devices and cloud infrastructure, and taking steps to improve email security. Finally, during this phase, it is important to begin working with an IT Professional as the scope and amount of work become too much to handle as a second job.
30-50 employees: the emergence of shadow IT
During this phase, the team can no longer fit in a single conference room, and communicate effectively on a single video call. The need for a management layer emerges. Process, policy, and organization become ever more important.
For the IT program, the complexity and number of applications and tools really begin to increase. If not carefully managed, license counts can soar and alignment on common tools can begin to breakdown. During this phase, it is important to implement tools, processes, and procedures for SaaS license and access level management. In addition, it is important to standardize how computers, peripherals, and applications are procured.
50-80 employees: business drivers or IT security and compliance
Around 50 employees, teams, and subcultures begin to develop. It becomes harder to standardize and enforce policies. The need for deep functional expertise and specialization begins to become a reality.
During this phase, if not before, organizations begin to get pressure from their clients, regulators, and investors for IT security and compliance. Quite often, this can be in the form of an IT Questionnaire. For many, the first time they are formally asked about their IT security can be quite daunting. Proactively working with IT and security professionals can help expedite your response, giving your partners confidence in your business operation. Additionally, working with a modern MSP or MSSP can help to proactively build a foundation of IT security, making it easier to prepare for SOC 2, NIST or HIPPA audits.
80-200 employees: separation of IT duties
During this phase, redundancy, efficiency,y and process are critical. Companies tend to grow quickly after receiving venture funding and need to be able to onboard, equip and train their employees rapidly.
For the IT program, it is common that the workload and breadth of work are too much for any individual, or even small team, to keep up with. Each week, dozens of new employees start. Computers need to be replaced. New policies and tools need to get deployed. Often, during this phase, systems need to be migrated and consolidated as companies merge. During this phase, it becomes important to separate day-to-day employee IT support from strategic IT planning and security. During this phase, many businesses hire a Security Director. Commonly, many companies supplement their internal IT resources with a skilled MSP for certain support and programmatic expertise.
A strategic IT Roadmap
There is no shortage of ways to spend money or time while building your IT program. Additionally, the vast selection of IT tools can be overwhelming. Working with a competent IT consultant, in-house IT professional, or MSP at all stages of your business’s growth can save headaches, and rework and can help ensure your employees have the access, tools, and protection that they need to do what they do best each and every day.
To learn how Interlaced can help build a scalable IT program for your fast-growing organization, please reach us at email@example.com or (855) 885-7336.