Just like the rest of the country we’ve spent the better part of the last couple of weeks actively trying to recruit Peyton Manning to join our team. Now that he’s made the unfortunate decision to join the Denver Broncos rather than Promethius Consulting, it’s time for us to get back to our real jobs. Seriously though, everything I’ve read in recent weeks has worked in a Peyton angle so I figured I should too.
I’ve had two occasions in the past couple of weeks that have reminded me that we’re not in this alone. The first was an unexpected Indiana Department of Revenue tax audit. While you try to do everything in your power to keep accounts in order, these things always send a shiver up your spine. The first thing we did was call our tax accountant to get some perspective, reassurance and advice.
The second occasion involved our pending office move. We’ve been in the same location for more than ten years and have reached a comfort level with the certainties that it provides. The search for a new office has been a long and frustrating one. Early this week I was asked to stop by the new location to have a look at some carpet samples. To my surprise, I arrived to find that construction had begun and that decisions were needed on everything from where data drops would go to which office doors would need locks. I have been a part of this team for so many companies going through office moves that I should have known what was coming, but I was caught completely off guard. I immediately realized that I didn’t have the bandwidth or the expertise to do the research and to make all of the decisions that needed to be made. My job was to find the right consultant and I had clearly not begun doing my job soon enough.
These two potential problems served to remind me of the value that we consultants provide. By design, our focus is limited so that we can focus on things that are important to our clients. I don’t have time to learn the ins and outs of the Indiana tax code, so I retain an accountant who does have the time to keep up on it because he doesn’t have to learn how to fix computers. He asks me to handle that for him. The key is to have these experts in place before you think you’ll actually need them. The time to start looking for an insurance agent is not ten minutes after a tree falls through your roof.
These examples also illustrate something that I have written about several times over the years. Small businesses too often skip the “consulting” part of the IT vendor partnership. We named our company Promethius Consulting precisely because we wanted to be utilized as more than computer geeks or even engineers. We are those things but the consulting comes first. That’s why we put so much effort into getting meetings with our clients before budgets are established, before major changes take place (like office moves, mergers or acquisitions, etc.) and periodically just to catch up. We meet with some of our clients monthly and we try to meet with all of our managed services clients at least quarterly to see how the partnership is going and to find out if there are issues that need to be discussed.
Here are a few examples of specific times that you should seek out your IT consultant’s advice:
- Office re-locations
- Mergers or acquisitions
- Downsizing, no matter the scale
- Expected growth faster than your normal rate
- Budget preparation
- Before hardware/software purchases are made (and preferably before evaluation begins)
- When evaluating changes that may affect your LAN/WAN environment (e.g. taking in a tenant, changing security policies, etc.)
You get the idea, so let’s bring this back to my situation. If you are considering a new office location, please involve your IT consultant as early as possible. In my case, those were the easy questions. Will you be wireless or will you need voice and data drops? Will you need data drops in common areas? Will you need special ventilation in your equipment room? Will you need to secure your equipment room? If you don’t know the answers to these kinds of questions, don’t get caught off guard and have to start backpedalling the day after you sign your lease. These decisions may account for a significant portion of your overall move-in budget and some of them take considerable time to coordinate.
Now, if someone could just help me decide between the 400 carpet samples they gave me…
If you would like consultation about anything IT, give Promethius a call at 317-733-2388.