There is a lot to consider when starting a business. In the midst of worrying about how many employees to hire, what technology to use, and which policies and procedures to put in place, the ability to scale is often overlooked.
As your business changes and grows, internal and external technology decisions will have a rising impact on the day-to-day, making the scalability of both your IT infrastructure and front-facing software crucial.
Lead Infrastructure Engineer here at Bit-Wizards, Sarah Rudd, knows the importance of setting a businesses’ IT infrastructure up to scale. In this article, she’ll outline what you need to consider when it comes to the scalability of your internal technologies.
Our Principal Lead Software Engineer, Anthony Fuller, is well-versed on what it takes to make scalable software. He’ll explain what needs to be taken into account when it comes to the scalability of front-facing technologies, such as your business website and/or applications.
Setting your business up to scale might not seem important now, but if you don’t consider it upfront, it will cost you down the road
“Scalability is the ability for your company and your systems to handle an increased load, whether that increased load comes from expanding your company, getting new employees, or your hardware or software taking off,” says Rudd. “You need to make sure those things are set up in a way that allows them to scale upward.”
Accounting for scalability can seem daunting, as it can be difficult to map out where your business will be 5, 10, or even 20 years from now. But that’s why planning for future growth is crucial to success.
“At Bit-Wizards, when we think of scalability, we try to keep the potential for growth in mind with any client that we onboard,” explains Rudd. “We set them up so that they have that ability to expand at any stage.”
Potential for growth also needs to be considered when your business is building its online presence, whether that be through an eCommerce website or online store, a booking or event website, a blog, or any other type of software.
“You want to make sure your application runs efficiently, whether you’re dealing with only a handful of users or millions of users,” says Fuller.
If you don’t account for growth and then your software needs to handle an increased load, Fuller says you will hit a wall.
“You just won’t be able to grow anymore and make the application work in a way that’s going to be enjoyable to the end user.”
When software lacks scalability, the profitability of your business can also be at stake.
“If your application goes down, especially if it’s something like an eCommerce application, you’re missing out on sales and losing money,” says Fuller. “Scalability ensures that your website or application can handle increased traffic or activity, so your software is far less likely to go down. This way, you’re not missing a single transaction or user interaction that may drive business.”
So, how do you ensure that your business and its software are set up to scale?
3 keys to scalability
Cloud computing is the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or personal computer.
“Everything we do in managed IT services is cloud based. It’s all 365,” says Rudd. “We try to get your on-premises servers into the cloud, which makes scalability much easier to perform than it would be to keep buying new hardware every single time you need an upgrade or an increase. The cloud will account for these factors automatically.”
Rudd says even her smallest clients are set up with the same enterprise-grade services as her larger clients. Enterprise-grade services are rich in features and functionality, more scalable, and more customizable. This way, Rudd says they have the capability to scale up when they need to.
“It gives a small client the ability to keep themselves small and to only pay for what they’re using. And then if they grow, they have the ability to pay for more, but it’s all the same secure enterprise services across the board.”
2. Clearly define & communicate business goals
“It’s really all about having that business strategy roadmap,” says Rudd. “Number one is understanding what your business goals are, how this affects your employees, and accounting for costs, compliance, and limitations. Then, we can set up the architecture to get you there.”
In addition to defining your business goals and laying out that roadmap, you need to clearly communicate with your managed IT services provider.
“It’s one of those help me help you sort of things,” says Rudd. “We get requests from clients all the time that say, ‘can you do this?’ Our response is basically, ‘Yes, we can. But we’d like to have a conversation with you first about why we’re doing this and how this affects your business.’”
Rudd says this conversation is necessary because there might be a better method of doing things or a more cost-effective approach to help you reach those business goals.
“There is also the possibility that the idea just won’t scale,” explains Rudd. “But we can turn it into something that scales if we understand all angles of what we’re trying to accomplish.”
3. Consider growth potential upfront
Even if growth is not in your immediate future, it’s a factor that needs to be front and center during initial planning.
“Accounting for scalability guarantees that you’re not going to run into a problem that you won’t be able to resolve in a timely fashion,” says Fuller.
This way of thinking applies to the IT infrastructure of a business as a whole, as well as the software being used and the systems in place.
“Even if going in, you know that only 10 people are using this software now, you have to stop and think, ‘what about 5 years from now?’” says Fuller. “You don’t want to be 5 years down the road scrambling to fix a problem that could have been resolved by accounting for scalability.”
We recently worked on a public facing website that handles permits and the client came to Bit-Wizards with a limited budget. Our software engineering team developed what they were able to under the budget constraints.
“But then the website became very popular and started seeing a lot more traffic,” says Fuller. “It started becoming incredibly slow and people started complaining about just trying to do a simple thing, like fill out some forms, and it was taking forever to submit.”
That’s when the client came back to Bit-Wizards to help them get the software where it needed to go. Fortunately, our software engineering team considered the website’s potential for growth when working on the project initially, so scaling it out wasn’t nearly as difficult, time-consuming, or expensive as it could have been.
“Thinking about it upfront is the most important thing. You don’t want to build something that isn’t scalable and then it takes off and becomes extremely popular. Now, you’re scrambling and trying to put Band-Aids on a problem.”
Accounting for scalability helps set businesses up for the unknown
When it comes to setting up scalable hardware or software for clients, Rudd says a common roadblock is fear of the unknown. She says some clients are held up by the fact that they don’t know exactly where their business is headed, or by a fear of change. But that’s precisely why Rudd says businesses should set themselves up to scale.
“Obviously the pandemic wasn’t planned for, but we already had many of our clients set up and ready to go as soon as it happened.”
Rudd says scalability gives you all the tools you need, no matter the circumstances.
“One of our managed IT services clients was just a single reality company in Tampa when we onboarded them. Then, they started buying other reality companies in Tampa, and eventually they expanded to where they invested in a new group of air conditioning businesses up in Illinois.”
Rudd says the Bit-Wizards Managed IT Services team already had this client preconfigured to scale.
“It was very helpful for them during the pandemic. That’s when they invested in the company in Illinois, which had four different locations. We got the entire company onto standardized systems and technologies, making collaboration and communication easy and streamlined all around. We also already had them set up to VPN back to the main office and access all their resources.”
The same goes for the everyday unknowns you might face in business.
“It saves you from that emergency,” says Fuller. “Maybe you wrote a blog article that’s popular and so traffic to your website suddenly quadruples. You won’t have to worry about it bringing your site down.”
At Bit-Wizards, scalability is a consideration with all clients, no matter your size.
“We want to be your partner before, during, and after,” says Rudd. “We’re not just here to do a task and execute it. If you have more implementations, questions, or changes you want to make down the road, we want to be aware of those so we can advise you and offer the best solution in the long run.”
Whether you’re looking to evaluate your IT infrastructure, or you need custom software built, Bit-Wizards can deliver a scalable solution that will grow seamlessly with your business.
Contact us today.