Starting a business? Do IT right!

So, you have secured a line of credit with the bank and you have found a great shop that will do the sign. You have also contacted a mailing house to let people know that you would be open for business soon. You have even called the phone company to get a new memorable number. What are you missing? What is missing is a good IT foundation which probably never made it to your to do list. If you have forgotten about this aspect, you are not alone. For most entrepreneurs, IT is the last on the list.

Most new businesses never put that much thought into how to do their IT right. The owners keep putting off their IT infrastructure until they have a full IT department. In the mean time, they just call on friends, acquaintances, or anyone that they can get a hold of for IT help. From setting up a network to helping with cabling, it was done at the cost of a pizza. Unfortunately, this is probably the worst thing to do for a business. When your business starts to grow, additional computers and equipment are being piled on to this ramshackle network, until the whole thing just tumble down.

Recently, we have a client who is a dentist contacting us saying "this computer next to the patient's chair don't work. I need to see his records on this computer." Well, minutes later, what was the problem? It was the network cable done by a non-professional friend helping out. Yeah, we all know plenty of them, don't we? What happened? The problem was the network jack to that computer was not even crimped. The cable pairs were just pushed in without being crimped. Therefore, every time somebody's leg was brushing against that cable, the network connection was lost, intermittently. It is amazing how a $1 part can wreak such havoc as a result of an untrained hand. Since this dentist sees over 150 patients a day, we would not want to speculate what this inconvenience was costing his dental clinic.

Another example. We have a $200M banker client with 11 branches, 200 employees and 150+ computers a few years back. Our client, the president of the bank, with an engineering degree, thought that doing all the work himself would save him a few bucks of hiring somebody. It was fine initially. After growing beyond 50+ computers, he found himself doing IT almost full time, yet unable to take care of increasing daily support calls from all the branches any longer. At that point, he called us for help.

It took us over a year, costing the client well over six figures in materials and labor, to fix all the things that were wrong with the bank’s network. Different brands of computers bought on sales made workstation management a nightmare. Consumer level routers breaking quite often because they cannot handle the workload of 24x7 business network. Using the wrong version of anti-virus (AV) software (Norton AV instead of Symantec) made it difficult to update signatures for all the computers, which in turn resulted in the main file server (with critical customers' information) being infected with 6000+ copies of virus. Network printers being set up as shared printers made printing and printer management a headache.

The lesson here is if you need to set up a business, do IT right the first time. IT support is not the place to skimp on if you want to start your business right. It is always smart to get the right help early on to save future headaches and costs. And no. It does not have to be us. Just please get a competent IT support from the start, for you, for your business, and for your sanity.

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About the author

Larry Oo is a MCSE, CCNA, A+, Network+, Security+, Linux+, iNet+ and CISSP certified information systems consultant with over 14 years of IT experience. He has been helping start-ups and SMEs from various industries. If you have a comment or suggestion, please contact Larry at larry |@| kcconsultants.com.