Being one of the fastest growing companies in your industry and region is a sign of great success. It means your customers are happy with your service and you’re filling a need that’s important to people. You’re on the right path and the trick is to stay on it while continuing to grow and improve as a business.
High-growth companies often face unique IT challenges that come coupled with their success. It can be overwhelming to keep up with business demand, building a company culture, keeping financials in line, and managing employees.
Often, your business technology ecosystem is left as an afterthought which can lead to many problems down the road.
We’ve put together this quick guide on IT pitfalls to watch out for on your fast-growth trajectory – and how to avoid them.
Here are some of the top challenges fast-growing companies face when it comes to building their IT team, technology footprint, and keeping pace with business growth.
Lack of Formal Structure
There are so many action items to get to while the company is continually growing and expanding that the formal structure for staff and processes can be less defined than they should be.
This can lead to increasing inefficiencies, duplication of work, and governance issues until the formal organizational structure becomes more fleshed out.
The technology works best and has fewer issues when it is approached strategically. Creating a formal structure for people and processes is one of the first steps you can take to having a more cohesive IT strategy that is in line with your business objectives.
Wise words from Karl Stark (co-founder of Avondale) on this subject were, “For a small entrepreneurial company, the lack of a formal organizational structure actually helps the team break down barriers and move quickly to capture the highest-value activities.
But once a company reaches a certain threshold, a lack of structure becomes a hindrance to further growth.”
How to Resolve:
Make the formal structure a priority by setting aside time when it makes sense to revisit the organization’s technology, people, and processes holistically to see what makes sense to formalize.
Get buy-in from business leaders to ensure that IT priorities and business objectives are aligned, and each group knows the rationale for why changes occur.
To accurately assess your needs and devise an efficient formal IT structure, hire a CIO level executive or invest in virtual CIO services. They will be able to take your growth trajectory into account and design your structure from mid-point to end state.
This also assists in determining which roles your company will need and when they should be hired or sourced.
IT Hiring Challenges
Finding new team members who have the necessary skills and are the right fit for your organization is tough at the best of times and even harder when you are operating at a sprint and need to fill several positions at once.
Find IT talent that fits your needs.
Technology positions can also be more difficult to hire for as it takes someone with a technical background to really assess skill levels. This means you need to borrow time from your already busy IT leaders to attend interviews.
It can be challenging to give each candidate the time and attention they deserve. This can reflect poorly if they leave a review on job sites like Glassdoor or Indeed – making future recruitment efforts harder.
Depending on your technology need, it can be difficult to find someone with the right skill set and experience level – especially if your need is more niche. And you’re not alone. According to TalentNow, “Approximately three quarters (72.8%) are struggling to find relevant candidates.”
How to Resolve:
Revisit your job description to make sure they aren’t too specific or require more experience than what you need. Think about making hybrid roles a priority to cut down on hiring too many niche individuals.
Consider enlisting the help of an IT recruiter if hiring new team members is taking too long or outsourcing some of your IT functions so that you’re only hiring roles that are critical to your business.
You can temporarily fill skills gap with IT staff augmentation. There is a lot of value in augmenting your team during projects or when it is a specialized skill set that you only need for a shorter duration and are not looking to add to your team full-time.
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Onboarding New Staff Quickly and Consistently
Fast-growing companies are often adding new staff faster than their IT team can keep up with.
Even if you’re able to hire several people each week if they don’t have a workstation or a laptop with the right programs it can lead to lost productivity. It takes time to set the right permission levels and get employees to access the tools and system they need to be an effective team member.
“A survey by Bamboo HR found that only 9% of HR managers don’t think their onboarding processes need to be improved. In fact, 43% went so far as to agree that “time and money are wasted because of ineffective onboarding processes.” A further 45% believe this could add up to over $10,000 per year.” – Source: impraise.com
How to Resolve:
Have a well-documented process for onboarding new staff so whoever is available and capable can run with it. A consistent roll-out process for new users provides structure and saves your staff time versus trying to approach it from an ad-hoc manner.
Make sure the base process is streamlined and repeatable. Then your organization can adjust it based on new users’ individual needs.
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Automate as much as possible from a process perspective so that most of the onboarding time can be spent listening to the new hire’s questions and providing a more meaningful introduction to the company.
Running Out of Space
A legitimate concern for growing businesses is running out of physical space. When you started, you likely had no idea how fast business would take off and may not have planned for the number of employees you’d have years later.
Your business may run into issues if you signed a longer-term, binding lease which limits your space and moves options.
This can create issues including shortages of meeting rooms, running out of desks, too many users on the network, and parking among others.
Not all of these are “IT challenges”, however technology can help resolve some of these issues with collaboration tools and changes to processes.
How to Resolve:
Having an office technology footprint with standard equipment can allow you to open new locations quickly if you outgrow your space.
This means having standard technologies pre-selected for items such as network provider, switches, firewall, and printers so you can drastically reduce the time to pop up new locations without technology becoming a barrier.
Many workplaces are implementing “flex time”, remote working, and other more flexible work week structures opposed to the traditional 9 – 5, work from the office culture. This offers up many benefits.
As your business grows and you add more staff – physical workspaces become limited without expanding your office space.
Allowing staff to work from home, coffee shops, client locations, etc. Opens up more space in the office and empowers staff with more options that may work with their lifestyles improving employee retention rates.
Holes in Security
Cybersecurity is difficult for organizations of any size to have to deal with.
You must secure your network, all connected devices, your website or app if you have one, and finally all your users who can unintentionally create a vulnerability in your system.
This gets harder as you onboard more users, add new software, and make changes to your IT environment without constantly keeping IT security in mind.
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Many business leaders make the mistake of thinking a data breach or hacking attempt won’t happen to them because they’re too small, or they don’t have any data worth stealing.
Keep in mind – It’s not personal.
Hackers scan the web for vulnerable networks, unpatched apps, or gullible users. As larger organizations make moves to secure themselves, smaller companies become the target for these sorts of attacks – especially while they are growing and still developing their security practices.
“More than one in five Canadian companies say they were hit by a cyber attack last year, with businesses spending $14 billion on cybersecurity as they confront greater risks in the digital world,” according to a new Statistics Canada survey.
How to Resolve:
Partner with a company that provides IT security services in order to assess the current state of your technology and processes.
After an initial assessment, you’ll get an idea of how much work you need to do to secure your business. Then you can make a judgement call whether it is something you can tackle in-house or work with a service provider.
If you don’t already have one, raise up a cybersecurity champion within your organization to spearhead security initiatives and stay on top of trends and threats to your business.
Even with advanced security measures, it’s often the human component that is the weakest link in your security infrastructure.
Conduct security awareness training within your organization to establish a baseline for how aware your team is of cyber threats and educate them on how to identify and react to them in the workplace.
How to Choose Business Software
Choosing software for your business can be a very organic process at first but can quickly lead to having many separate tools for doing the same thing if not managed correctly.
The more software your IT team has to support, the harder it becomes to make sure everything is kept up-to-date and patched correctly.
Its ideal if your company can choose one go-to program or suite of apps for each major function in the business.
By selecting a suite of apps from the same provider, the programs should be able to work together seamlessly and your business won’t have to do as much integration or maintenance to keep them running smoothly.
This is another area companies should approach strategically as many of your future work processes may be built on top of these tools. Pick tools that will scale with your business.
How to Resolve:
Use a technology roadmap to outline what technology your business will plan to roll out and when. If you’re using an Evergreen IT strategy it can also document the lifespan of the tech and when it will need to be replaced.
Plan an annual, reoccurring assessment period to find out which programs your team is using to determine if there is an opportunity for simplifying your technology stack.
This can reduce costs, limit the amount of patching your company must do, and save your support team time for ongoing maintenance.
As your business grows, effective use of the cloud for applications allows you to continue adding new users without adding new infrastructure or running into any capacity problems.
Selecting the Right IT Partner
If you’re looking for an IT partner to sustain your growth, look for somebody who has experience scaling businesses and all the associated activities that go with it.
You need to assess the types of skill sets you need to support your business not just now – but for the future as well.
At Resolute, we help our clients choose technology that is the right size for them and will sustain growth, we have a managed services team that can sustain infrastructure and applications as new users are added, aid in applying best practices to organizational IT structures, and ensure proper IT security measures and disaster recovery plans are in place.
Contact us if you’re looking to conquer one or all of the IT challenges above and are looking for some guidance on how to do that.
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