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How to manage IT in a growing business: Using consultants

Jonathan McCormick, COO, Intermedia | April 12, 2016
Part 1 of a 3-part series on how IT matures as companies grow

Although vendor-written, this contributed piece does not promote a product or service and has been edited and approved by the editors.

Few companies are founded with a CIO. For many, the first IT “hire” is the company’s founder, whose job description may include activities like IT purchasing, networking and IT support, alongside planning, marketing and business development. Eventually, that changes. But when? And how?

In my role as a chief operations officer, I’ve helped many companies build out their IT operations as they grow from startups to SMBs and beyond. In this three-part series, I’ll explain the IT life cycle of a hypothetical startup called Joe’s Widget Shop, a software development company.

As we follow the rise of Joe’s Widget Shop, I’ll examine each stage in the company’s growing process and provide recommendations for how to best structure IT in order to service existing needs and drive growth. We’ll follow Joe’s Widget Shop as the company (i) hires its first IT consultant, (ii) appoints its first CIO, and (iii) implements formal IT policies and procedures. This series is a playbook for companies that are unsure about how to manage IT for a growing business.

Joe Smith, the CEO of Joe’s Widget Shop, has just hired his 15th employee and has just signed a lease for a real office space. Joe is considering bringing in IT support to help get the office up and running, including setting up the network and infrastructure. In part one of this series, I’ll review when companies should hire IT consultants, and what to consider when doing so.

When to hire an IT consultant

When a startup is born, hiring an IT consultant isn’t top of mind, and for good reason. Your first employees are typically working off of their own personal equipment, on a basic Wi-Fi network, out of a small space, or in some cases, someone’s garage. And the plethora of available Software-as-a-Service solutions mean you can get your business operations up and running with ease.

As a company continues to expand its team, however, IT becomes a crucial part of the business. Moving to an office space requires new IT investments, including setting up office networks, moving away from cell phones to a phone system, and adopting Active Directory to control all of the machines shortly after.

When Joe’s company reached over 10 employees, the team took a good hard look at upgrading its network and implementing a hosted phone system. At 25 to 50 employees, Joe plans to implement Active Directory – which may even be later for other tech companies, seeing as many of their users will not need centralized management and support.


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