Growing a business to the point where you are thinking of setting up a 2nd site is super exciting! You may have concerns it will all go wrong, putting everything at risk. The no. 1 thing that we see business get wrong is with IT, so ensuring you have thought things through with an experienced IT company, used to dealing with multi-site businesses, is key to ensuring things run smoothly.
Whether establishing a 2nd site through acquisition, or simply expanding to a new territory, read on to find out the 3 Things You HAVE to Get Right When Launching a 2nd Site.
1. Making Sure There’s a Good Internet Connection
If you do nothing else, GET THIS RIGHT. High-speed connectivity is vital for multi-site businesses. Your 2nd site may feed off existing infrastructure located at your primary site. Slow connectivity or outages can leave sites cut-off from the rest of the business. Can you afford that downtime?
We advise speaking with your IT company (if they offer this) or telecoms providers well ahead of time to find out what services are available at the new location. You do not want to sign a lease only to discover that you’re stuck with 8MB over ADSL…
Once you know what you can get, our next piece of advice is to get the order in as early as possible. If you’re going for a leased-line, necessary wayleaves can take many months. We’ve seen businesses hold off until the very last minute, resulting in them moving into a building and then waiting on lines being installed. It’s possible to work around this with temporary 4G solutions, but that’s not ideal, and the data costs soon mount up.
Seeking the advice of a company that supplies lines and broadband and can scope out potential locations for you is critical before you commit to a location can save you a ton of headaches.
2. Making Sure Your Software Is Suitable For Multi-Site Businesses
In order for your multiple sites to collaborate as effectively as possible, you need to get the right software in place.
An important first step is to review what software you already have in place in your first site before you open another location. Being able to access the same systems from all locations is vital to running a smooth and seamless operation so what ever you choose needs to be multi-site friendly.
Cloud technology is great for multi-site businesses. If you aren’t already using a cloud application on your first site, we advise spending time with your IT provider to find out if any cloud-based solutions would be suitable. This also takes away the reliance on your primary site, enabling all locations to operate independently, but still using the same tools.
Storing business data in the cloud is nothing new, but getting the right product is sometimes still a challenge. Many businesses turn to things like Dropbox, but that type of solutions has limitations and isn’t what you should be considering fora business-grade setup. With products such as Microsoft SharePoint (part of Office 365), all businesses can gain access to what used to be Enterprise-only solutions.
With cloud storage such as SharePoint, all staff across all locations will be able to access the same documents. The best part is that SharePoint offers the same levels of User Access Control that an on-premise server does, so you don’t need to be too concerned over security concerns. Again, the right IT provider will be critical in getting things setup correctly.
With the right solutions in place, staff walking into the second branch will be able to work as if they were in their own office. Seamless working for all, so you can focus on what you do best.
3. Choosing an IT Provider Experienced in Multi-Site Businesses
Setting up a business site is expensive (and stressful), which is why you NEED to get it right the first time. Choosing an IT company that is experienced in working with multi-site business will make your life a LOT easier. They will be able to help ensure you can get high-speed Internet connectivity at your new location, work with you to ensure you have the right software products in place, and be able to provide IT support for multi-site businesses.
If you wish to speak to one of our experts about setting up a new location, or if you are already operating from multi-sites and running into IT issues, click here to book in a FREE consultation with our MD Mark Riddell.