You thought you were the smart one, a shining example of leadership. The brother or sister that knew how to replace the family VCR with a TiVo. You read books about HTML and helped your uncle add a shopping cart to his locksmith website. You were in the know. Now it’s twenty years later, and you run a small business.
Fifteen years ago, you bought the company’s first computer and helped set up its first network, when you bought the second computer and attached a cable between the two. Now the company has 49 employees, 33 workstations, two websites, a whole boatload of phones you’d like to ditch altogether, and they tell you everything needs to be backed-up every day.
The Outside World
In the outside world, you hear about one large corporation after another getting hacked; Target, Home Depot, even Facebook, and Google have been violated! Someone just told you about how many healthcare records had been breached. You didn’t want to hear that.
Internally, you’ve got customers complaining about computer downtime, employees complaining about everything running slow, and there have been new complaints about the software not being compatible with new client files. The two interns that run your website tell you that you need to be on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Linked In. You’ve only heard of two of those. Your second hire, who now looks after your network, told you to move to the Cloud, while your daughter who worked in accounting during the summer, insists that your whole system is outdated. Ouch, and you were the smart one.
Just Enough to Be Dangerous
The old cliché, ‘knowledge is power’ is still true, no matter how overused the term is. The problem comes in when the possessor of said knowledge has accumulated precisely enough of it to satisfy himself of his new-found capabilities, but not quite enough to be of any use to you. Homemade IT departments in small companies all over the world suffer from this phenomenon. That is; you are forced to rely on a person that has so far convinced you that they have sufficient skills and knowledge to solve your problem, when, in fact, they do not.
These are often well-intentioned employees and friends, people who may have demonstrated some technical aptitude at some point, are more than willing to volunteer for tech duty. After all, it’s a secure position, and problem-solvers get respect, we all want that. What they are lacking is the technical depth of understanding via certification and real business experience that tempers their technical skill with the ability to reach a successful conclusion that demonstrates a real benefit to the enterprise.
The homemade IT perspective will convince you to change the problem rather than solve your problem: “You don’t need to install that, it will take months to get it online, and the cost will be outrageous. You’d be better off hiring a data entry person to simply type the info in.”
If this strikes a chord, you know who you are. Chances are you just figured that the backend of your business could be worked out at a later date, because, at that moment when you hired the office supply store salespersons to be your IT department, sales were what mattered.
And of course, you could prove that to us if we could do a quick comparative analysis, but apparently, your computers are down. One more reason online software services can be very cost-effective for very small business.