How to choose your first IT system

Deciding on your first IT system is a big step for any start-up or small business. By following the checklist below, you’ll be in a better position to take the plunge.

Specify your requirements in detail on paper

You don’t have to be technically savvy to do this. Explain in simple terms what it is you want a new IT system to do. Get a second opinion from a trusted friend or adviser.

Know what benefits you want your business to achieve

Focus on these first, rather than specific details.

Consider any future systems the new IT system must work with

You will want to be sure they are compatible.

Look for reputable local suppliers

Ask for recommendations from business peers.

Ask shortlisted suppliers to submit proposals, based on your specification

Meet them and check referrals. Compare like-with-like. You will then be able to make an informed choice.

Identify the best way to acquire hardware

Will you buy, lease or rent?

Identify the best way to buy software

Don’t forget about cloud computing options, and investigate the best apps for business with this guide

Ensure you either own intellectual property rights or have a licence

Make sure you’re protected.

Decide on maintenance

These should include backup facilities. Make sure the contract is clear on this.

If relevant, divide big projects into smaller, achievable stages

Set milestones and hold regular reviews.

Ensure there is a written agreement with your supplier

Reference your requirements, the supplier’s proposal and agreed terms.

Plan how you or your supplier will test the system

Ensure it is user-friendly and that it does what it is meant to do.