Rules and regulations
There are a lot of rules and regulations you should be familiar with in IT. When you do your needs analysis, you will know how to divvy up your funds as a start-up. You might spend on marketing or on infrastructure – but first and foremost, you should invest in yourself.
Knowledge is key: it’s all about reputation. If you’re dealing with online security, for instance, there are data and privacy issues you must look into. And if you’re dealing with hardware, you have to be aware of the environmental implications. Retailers will give you support with their hardware, and provide you with information regarding software licensing and IP issues. But it’s up to you to know what questions to ask.
In terms of industry knowledge, Paul Timms of Maindec suggests you read up on ITIL, which is the ‘go-to’ for IT service management companies. It’s the information industry’s data library, offering qualifications and advice on best practice and process mapping: basically, different ways of doing business in IT. It is, according to its website, the ‘most widely adopted approach for IT service management in the world’. According to Paul, going into IT consultancy with a knowledge of this will be very helpful.
If you’re a director, then it’s always worth taking a directorship course. That way, you’ll be aware of your legal obligations and you won’t want to fall into any traps. From a business point of view, it’s worth considering the IOD, according to Roger of Maindec. They have a very good knowledge base for businesses: you have to pay some money, but they do offer a great deal in return.
“People don’t often grasp the gravity of what it is to be a company director,” Roger says. “The legal obligations are on your head. It’s all well and good being in control, but if you go and do something silly, you don’t want to be in court fighting your corner without a leg to stand upon.”
There are many courses available all over the country. You don’t need to be a member of the IOD, but you do need to have an awareness of your obligations.
In terms of industry bodies that can help you, there are many that cater for IT professionals. “Because IT is such a broad umbrella, there are lots out there,” says Paul. “If you were going to do something like network support, for instance, there’d be a support group for that. A lot of stuff these days is online. Following social media technology keeps you very up to date.”
You’ll find a list of helpful links to industry bodies and advice under the ‘Useful Contacts’ heading of this article.