Feb 03 2022

How Startups Can Get the IT Support They Need

A little outside help can protect your startup’s digital infrastructure and ensure your technology approach will scale.

When startups are getting up and running, they have a lot of technical needs. Those needs change continuously as the organization grows.

In the beginning, these challenges are compounded by the fact that there may not be an IT department. Many fast-growing businesses don’t hire a CTO or even a full-time IT staffer until a few years in, when there may already be more than 100 employees working at the organization.

This can create significant challenges down the line. Startups must establish early on processes and procedures that will shape the way they operate and how they collaborate. Without early strategy or guidance, this can dramatically affect how the organization functions over time. And because each startup’s needs are different, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all template to follow.

IT needs to be central to these early discussions, even if an IT department doesn’t yet exist. Here are ways that organizations can set themselves up for success during growth.

How Startups Should Prepare IT for Growth

Startups often aim to grow quickly, but inexperience and a lack of resources can impact early decision-making and have a negative impact as the company grows.

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When your organization is small, you may be able to get away with downloading ad hoc applications or tools to get your work done. There’s no precedent driving your organization when it’s first starting, and if you have a tech background, you might feel like you have a level of technical skill that allows you to make such a call without risk.

However, such an experimental approach to leveraging technology can leave growing organizations vulnerable. Problems like shadow IT, or unauthorized applications, become more pronounced and can present challenges to internal collaboration and to security.

Added costs also come into play when technologies are brought in without a fundamental strategy to make sure they will meet your needs a year from now. If your organization is highly reliant on cloud computing resources or equipment,  those costs can start to add up without someone leading the way. Poor IT prioritization is counterproductive to achieving scale, which for startups is the name of the game.

The shift to remote work has also created an increased focus on people operations, which describes the way that labor is managed within an organization. A poor handle on technology could prove problematic, slowing down the process of building your workforce.

Each startup’s goals are different, but all of them can take steps to curate a technology stack that will support growth.

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When to Consider External Help

For newer startups that may not have the resources for a dedicated IT team, it might make sense to bring in outside help. Engaging a partner like CDW’s Startup Technology Solutions team can be a great way to create a stable IT strategy, particularly as your organization’s operations are still taking shape. Having experts available to help you determine the needs of your team can help ensure success for your revenue-generating production systems or your workplace operations.

Building a support system for your startup allows you to focus on your organization’s core competencies. According to research from Wilbur Labs, 55 percent of startup founders pivoted to avoid business failure, and 75 percent of startups that did so eventually were successful. Many startup success stories involve pivots: Twitter started as a podcast-publishing service, and Instagram started as a mobile check-in app akin to Foursquare before switching to photo sharing.

Those moves happen naturally for many startups, and they can change your technology needs on a dime. Strategic support can help to ensure your momentum isn’t limited by an inflexible infrastructure when you may not have internal resources to orchestrate the change.

Running a startup is already full of risk. There’s no reason gamble on whether your technology stack will meet your long-term needs.

This article is part of BizTech's AgilITy blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #SmallBizIT hashtag.

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