18/03/2024

Housekeeping tips for staying on top of your business’s IT

From hardware to software, existing architecture to innovation, the expert team at leading IT consultancy, Propel Tech, dusts off the to-do list and shares top tips for staying on top of your business’s IT this spring

Spring is a time for possibilities, ideas and action. With IT playing an increasingly important role in the success of a business on a multi-departmental level, it’s also the perfect time to take a deep breath and spring clean your business’s tech to save money, improve productivity, and boost morale.  

From hardware to software, existing architecture to innovation, the expert team at leading IT consultancy, Propel Tech, dusts off the to-do list and shares top housekeeping tips for staying on top of your business’s IT this spring. 

Is your website performing?  

Your website might have been ahead of the curve when you launched it a few years ago, but technology, trends and user requirements change quickly and, since it takes 0.05 seconds for users to form an opinion about a site, it’s important to maintain it. There are several things to consider when analysing your current website performance - is the design and functionality to par, is it converting, is the content best in class and is it optimised for SEO and security?   

Signs that your online presence needs a spruce-up - or a complete overhaul - could be a drop in traffic and engagement, drop-off at key conversion points, a high bounce rate, slow load speeds and reduced organic traffic, forcing more PPC spend. All of these are likely to be down to outdated design, inadequate functionality, and content that could do with a rethink.   

Top housekeeping tips:  

  • Take inspiration from your competition - are their websites delivering a spotless experience?   
  • Follow industry standards for user experience. Things like prominent call-to-action buttons can significantly increase conversion 
  • Commit to regular maintenance and updates to reduce security risk   
  • Maximise SEO, keep a regular check on the latest Google-wise for algorithm changes.  For example, FAQs are central to Google’s AI results so you could bump up your visibility by adding some to your website 

Is your IT budget on track?  

Despite huge changes in technologies year-on-year, from devices to cloud services, data backup, software and security, some business leaders revert to the same budgeting model on an annual basis. This makes it difficult to take advantage of real-time developments that would benefit the business’s ongoing success and growth ambitions. 

It’s commonly reported that businesses should spend 4-6% of their revenue on IT. Even so, there are new schools of thought to say IT budgets should be set every quarter to allow for constant improvements and assessments - could you be spending less on cloud services, for example, and fire fighting, such as breaches?  

Top housekeeping tips:  

  • Bring internal and external IT partners together to horizon scan and plan for peaks and troughs
  • Have an IT contingency separate from the main budget 
  • Embrace IT as a multi-departmental responsibility - not a niche  

Are you in technical debt?  

Technical debt is accumulated when a business takes shortcuts to achieve a speedy outcome, often resulting in problems that need to be fixed further down the line. You can also be throwing good money after bad by spending resources on outdated systems that no longer serve their purpose and are insecure. Like attempting to fix an old appliance when a new, more modern one is cheaper.  

It also captures the ‘debt’ companies can rack up by not staying updated with software updates and security patches. Older systems and websites can also get to the unsupported stage where Microsoft or Google no longer support them.  Being out of date not only leaves businesses vulnerable to attacks, it can impact overall system performance and user experience and create a demotivated team.  

Plus it can have a much wider impact on the business as developers spend their time firefighting, not creating - with 69% of UK enterprise businesses agreeing that technical debt limits their capacity to innovate.  

Top housekeeping tips:  

  • Be realistic about the time and costs of staying up to date and remaining squeaky clean  
  • If you’re already in debt, create a staged priority plan to deal with fixes and set aside a budget for this 
  • A third-party consultancy to assess the debt can be objective and helpful  
  • In some cases, it may be cheaper to build new than add to an ageing system

Is your external software consultancy delivering the goods?  

Outsourcing bespoke software services to the right partner can bring significant value to a business. They can deliver vital expertise that you may not have in-house and have visibility of what other companies are doing, and not doing. What’s more, and expert partner will  take care of ongoing monitoring and maintenance, nipping any potential issues in the bud, helping companies to innovate, grow and stay one step ahead of the competition.   

But when a B2B software partner is failing to deliver on their promises, switching suppliers can seem like a daunting task. Not least because there are almost 30,000 businesses registered in the UK alone that describe themselves as bespoke software suppliers. However, sweeping inferior service under the carpet will put a business on the back foot, probably in technical debt, and the longer it’s left, the harder it will be to make the switch.   

Top housekeeping tips:  

  • Evaluate your existing supplier. Propel Tech has published a seven-step checklist to help with this 
  • Create a shortlist of potential new partners based on case studies, expertise and recommendations or reviews  
  • During the selection process, ask for detailed proposals and evidence of success, and make sure the chemistry is right - trust your gut  

Are there unresolved niggles with your existing systems?  

Many software systems have quirks. But it doesn’t mean they must be tolerated. Even the smallest issues, if not addressed, can cost a business money, waste up to 40% of working days per year, lower standards and impact staff morale. 

You may also have two systems with cross-over because they are separate. For example an ordering and warehouse system. Integrating the two could save you time duplicating effort.

Top housekeeping tips:  

  • Work with the wider team to build a list of niggles, such as slow loading systems and problems with automated software 
  • Come clean about the true impact of these issues in terms of productivity and cost, and overlay the potential cost of fixing them
  • Create a priority list. Not everything can be done at once

Is it time to innovate?  

Your business may be doing well, but those who invest in tech innovation will always remain ahead of the game. Take a step back and ask yourself, do you need to innovate to maintain your competitive position? This could be a new mobile app, enhanced functionality for users, or a slicker, faster, updated interface for customers.  

Top housekeeping tips:  

  • Review the business landscape - take inspiration from tech-forward businesses
  • Talk to your bespoke software partner - what are they doing for other clients?  
  • Be prepared to invest - improvements will pay for themselves in the long term

Hardware - is it time to update (and donate)?  

Everybody loves shiny new laptops or phones. Not only does regularly reviewing your equipment keep teams happy, but can bring other benefits such as energy inefficiency, less crashing and reduced problems with speed. Plus the latest hardware is always compatible with the most up-to-date - and secure - systems and won’t lag behind your clients’ tech.  

Not only does it make good business sense to keep on top of your hardware, but there are schemes out there to donate old devices to companies that are helping to close the digital divide. National community interest company, SocialBox.Biz, regenerates old laptops and devices up to ten years old and redistributes them to refugees to find work, manage money and stay in touch with family.  

Top housekeeping tips:  

  • Talk to your team and clients - what are the preferred devices?  
  • Find local tech donation schemes in your area, such as Propel Tech’s ‘Re-Tech’ initiative
  • Chat with your accountants regarding tax advantages associated with new equipment 

Is your infrastructure giving you the best value for money?  

Using cloud infrastructure brings no end of benefits in terms of hosting workloads and enhancing collaboration, particularly in the post-COVID remote working world. However, a company's cloud services must be closely managed and controlled to avoid overspending on unused capacity, messy structuring and unnecessary functionality. According to a report by KPMG, wasted cloud spend is estimated to be as much as 45%, so it’s worth investing in a tidy-up that could help you make the most of a tight budget. 

Top housekeeping tips:  

  • Choose the right pricing model - weigh up the pros and cons for pay-as-you-go vs. predefined terms (and everything in between). 
  • Introduce processes to ensure cloud maintenance is continual. 
  • Develop a maintenance plan with your DevOps team or external supplier.  

Propel Tech works with leading businesses across multiple sectors throughout the UK, such as manufacturing, automotive, retail, and real estate, to improve and overhaul software systems.

Author: Danielle Mistry
18/03/2024

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