IT Strategy & Management

IT Strategy Management PlanningWith more than 30 years of experience in the IT industry, working in and at all levels from micro-business, through multi-nationals to major government programmes, and with a number of successful ecommerce sites both of our own and managed on behalf of clients, we are well placed to help SMEs identify their IT needs and help put a strategy in place to support their business.

There are many things we can help you with, and if it’s not something we do ourselves it almost certainly is something we can help you to manage with your preferred provider. Our management consultancy extends far beyond the obvious of making sure that you get want you want from your suppliers at a fair price though, because we’ll help you to look at all the possible impacts (both positive and negative) of your plans, and to mitigate against any possible negative impacts. By way of a few simple examples:

Website Upgrade

Website Upgrade ProblemsOne client came to us following a website upgrade. His business was doing well and his ecommerce site was making an increasingly valuable contribution to his bottom line, so he decided to invest in his website in the hope of improving sales. He looked around on the forums, found someone who was familiar with his shopping cart software, and paid for a draft design. It looked good, so he commissioned the company to carry out the design work on his website, upgrading the underlying software in the process.

When his new site went live he was impressed with the new look and feel, as were many of his friends and colleagues who looked at it. Unfortunately his sales dropped off rather than increased, and naturally he couldn’t understand why. On a recommendation from a business contact, he called us. We met, learned the background, and carried out an investigation.

It transpired that the website redesign, whilst aesthetically beneficial, had only been tested by the developers on a desktop PC and browser. The website no longer worked on mobile devices. Looking at Google Analytics revealed that more than 50% of this ecommerce website’s users were on mobile devices, meaning that the new-look website was only visible to less than half those who attempted to use it. The problem was much worse than that though because our further research showed that every product and category page URL had changed as part of the software upgrade, meaning that the primary keywords for which the website was once well-ranked organically (good SEO) and which used to go to specific deeply-nested landing pages now simply went to the homepage, so unless visitors took the trouble to carefully search through 5,000+ products to find what they wanted they’d never see it (and even that only applied to the now less than 50% on desktop PCs who could even see the website at all). The Analytics showed that most didn’t hunt of course, they simply bounced off and went elsewhere to buy. Finally, when we looked at the website source code, it transpired that because of the way in which the developer had written the customisation code (most definitely not in accordance with best practice of the CMS-publisher’s guidelines, despite their claimed expertise) the new-look website was no longer capable of having standard upgrades applied to it.

What a disastrous upgrade!

Working with the client we approached the developers and arranged for them to fix the defects in their code that prevented it working on mobile devices, and we arranged independent testing of this on the client’s behalf. Concurrently, we created and launched a major PPC campaign to start getting targeted traffic back for the client’s primary keywords and high margin products. Finally, we interrogated the shopping cart’s underlying SQL database and generated several thousand redirects to get everything that Google had known before going back to the right place again. In other words, we successfully got our client’s business back on track and profitable again.

Unfortunately the code changes were such a mess that the standard patch/upgrade process remains impossible on this website, leaving the client with a problem of additional expense to do it manually when required. It has subsequently transpired that the developers obtained and used cPanel access to obtain a copy of the client’s customer database, whereas all they really needed was FTP access to alter the code. Had we been involved in specifying the original services neither of these problems would have occurred and for the comparatively modest cost of our professional IT management consultancy they’d have saved a huge number of expensive problems.

If you’re planning a website upgrade or similar changes to your IT systems, and don’t want to place everything you value at risk in the process, manage your risk and give us a call to see how we can help you do it right first time.

Outsourcing

Top Reasons for OutsourcingYour business is growing fast and you can no longer handle everything yourself. This is a good sign and you are now looking for staff, either part or full time. It may be that you would prefer to simply purchase a solution to your problem rather than people’s time, and leave everything in somebody else’s hands so you are free to concentrate on your core business.

We have extensive experience of working with third party service providers, both onshore and offshore, and can help you through all aspects of: identifying and clarifying your precise requirements; advertising for and selecting the right staff/provider; negotiating and agreeing payment, contract and confidentiality (non-disclosure agreement – NDA) terms; providing secure and restricted (but adequate) access; monitoring performance on a probationary and on-going basis; running parallel providers to avoid introducing single points of failure (SPOF); securely terminating provider services etc. If you’re offshoring then you additionally need to consider whether you are, for example, placing the constraints on your data that the Data Protection Act requires even if only one trusted worker will have access to it on a secure and confidential basis.

There’s a lot more than that, of course, and if you don’t get it right you are potentially placing your business and livelihood at risk. Why not play safe and give us a call to see how we can help you grow safely?

Conclusion

Task Team IndividualThere’s more to it than this, of course, and much more we can do for you. We’re experienced at preventing these and similar problems for blue-chips and multi-nationals, and as we have many years of experience running our own businesses (everything from consultancy through internet marketing to ecommerce) we are well placed to save you from getting ripped off or making costly mistakes. So before you make a big change, why not give us a call and ask us to take a quick look over your plans to help ensure that everything will go well for you. We can of course help you make those plans too if you wish.

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