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The Importance of Having a Dedicated Tech Lead for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

17/03/2023 in Tips

The Importance of Having a Dedicated Tech Lead for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses 

Small and medium sized businesses account for 99.9% of the UK business population (5.5million businesses) and they often face unique challenges when it comes to technology and data management. Unlike larger companies, they may not have the resources to hire a full-time tech lead, or they may not prioritise these critical aspects of business operations. However, neglecting technology and data management can have negative impacts on a business’s growth and longevity, leading to inefficiencies, cybersecurity threats, and missed opportunities. In this blog, we will explore the risks and consequences of not having a tech lead for small and medium-sized businesses and provide actionable advice on how to overcome these challenges.

The risks of not having a Tech Lead 

As technology continues to develop rapidly this inevitably brings additional challenges for businesses that don’t keep pace with the changes. Businesses that do not have a Tech Lead are even more likely to be exposed to the many risks.

Lack of Strategic Technology Planning

A key role of any Tech Lead is to ensure that the business has a strong technology plan in place and has installed the necessary infrastructure to not only cope with current demands, but also support the business in the next phase of its growth and development. Failure to employ an appropriate strategy could well see the growth of a business hampered significantly.

Increased risk of cyber security threats and data breaches

Advancements in technology have led to a massive increase in the number of cyber attacks happening worldwide and no matter the size of your business, you are not safe. If anything, small to medium businesses are more likely to be attacked due to the fact they don’t have the resources to invest in advanced cyber security solutions and are therefore more likely to have gaps in their security strategies which can be infiltrated.

If your organisation handles customer data there is an even greater responsibility to ensure customers’ information is kept safe. There are many viruses that are created with the sole purpose of stealing your information, and if data is stolen by cyber criminals it can cause real damage to your reputation with your customers. A strong Tech Lead is essential in setting and maintaining the cyber security strategy of the business.

Inefficient use of technology and resources 

Once systems become old and outdated they slow down and become prone to failure or crashing. The disruption this causes within a business can lead to loss of productivity, significant downtime for staff and additional time and money spent to fix issues as they occur.

A successful business is reliant on its staff following a clear and concise set of processes. IT that doesn’t work properly can force employees to find different ways of achieving their goals by taking ‘shortcuts’, forcing them away from tried and tested business processes and adding further inefficiency.

Environmental changes are at the forefront of everyone’s mind and old systems don’t have the power-saving capabilities and features that newer technology does. This means that if your office is full of old tech then investing in newer devices or migrating to the cloud could see a dramatic reduction in energy costs.

Inability to leverage data for business growth and decision making

Clean, accurate data that is readily available, is the lifeblood of any business. Being able to quickly access data about financial performance, sales pipelines, cash flows, operational performance and a host of other areas is vital in the day-to-day management of a business. Reliable data aids the decision-making process, allowing a company to be more agile and responsive and better able to capitalise on growth opportunities. Business plans, forecasts, budgets and financial planning all rely on good data. If this is not available or is unreliable it can have a serious detrimental effect on any business.

Higher costs in the long run

While the cost of modernising a system may appear to be expensive, the failure to stay current will cost you more in the long run. Loss of productivity, lack of data visibility, security breaches and ongoing inefficiency will all add up to significant costs that will far outweigh those of updated systems. Add to that the potential costs of emergency repairs in the case of breakdowns or, worse still, complete data loss due to serious system failure. In all of these situations a knowledgeable Tech Lead will ensure regular updates take place and will have put in place a detailed “disaster recovery plan” should the worst happen.

Overcoming the challenges 

The Benefits of having a Tech Lead

As your business grows, the demands upon IT will grow with it and expert knowledge will be required to ensure your systems are fit for purpose and able to support your organisation’s plans.

Having a Tech Lead will ensure there is a clear focus and strategy in place for  the future of your IT as your business evolves.

A Tech Lead will ensure that all of the necessary protections are in place from a cyber security perspective. This will protect your data, protect your customers, potentially save money and help to maintain your company’s reputation.

They will also help with managing and improving business processes and systems, providing timely and accurate data and ensuring your business complies with industry regulations. All of which will help to provide a solid foundation for the future growth and success of your business.

How to find a Tech Lead for your business

Hiring an experienced Tech Lead is complicated, and you need to consider your specific business needs, company structure, and company culture.  When trying to attract top talent, you need to consider what makes your business stand out and attract the best.

The prime goal before you begin your search is to establish your needs.  What role does your Tech Lead need to play?  What will their specific responsibilities be?  Who will they report to, and what will their team look like? Understanding where your Tech Lead will sit in your team will help you look for the right people.

Alternatives to hiring a full time Tech Lead

Not all businesses can afford to hire an internal IT department, but the reliance on technology in business remains.

One of the best ways to bring high level expertise into the business at a fraction of the cost of employing someone is to outsource and utilise the services of a virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO).

A vCIO operates at a more strategic level and will have greater experience than perhaps your business could afford to employ. By outsourcing you can have access to the skills and expertise as and when you need them. Read more about the benefits of working with a fractional vCIO here.

Training existing employees to take on tech responsibilities

One option for businesses is to train existing employees to take on tech responsibilities. Whilst this can appear appealing from a point of view of cost and providing existing employees the opportunity for growth and development, it should only really be viewed as a short-term solution.

Whilst existing employees may be able to take on tech responsibilities along with their existing duties, they are unlikely to have the time, skills and experience to develop the company’s tech further. Systems may well be maintained very effectively but there is unlikely to be the capacity for future proofing or any strategic growth plans and ultimately this will hamper the growth of the business in the long run.

Future proof your business

Whilst recruiting and employing a Tech Lead into a small or medium sized business can be seen as an unnecessary  cost, there is no doubt that not having one presents a significant risk over time.

To plan for the future, protect against threats, increase efficiency, aid decision making and secure growth, every business needs to consider the role of a Tech Lead.

For those businesses where a full time employed position is financially out of the question, there are other options available, such as vCIO, which can provide the expertise and skills required for a reduced outlay.

This is potentially a great option for small businesses as the value that a Tech Lead will bring cannot be ignored. If you would like to find out more about how a vCIO can help with your business, then please get in touch.