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THE CHALLENGE

All SMEs and smaller charities rely to an increasing extent on maintaining digital records and systems, typically email and data storage. The computers we use every day to create these files and the devices needed to store them have become everyday tools that we all now take for granted. For somebody working in a SOHO (Small Office Home Office) environment it is relatively easy to maintain systems and records, without undue difficulty. However, as an organisation grows and additional staff are taken on, the different team members will need to be able to share and exchange information. Whether this is with somebody in the same physical location or with remote co-workers, in a safe, managed, and secure manner.

For this sharing to run smoothly the different machines and devices have to be able to communicate securely and robustly. This means that constant care has to be taken to ensure that networks are set up and configured correctly. In addition, where a program such as Microsoft Office 365 is the default for all team members, it is important that all users are upgraded to the same, latest version to reduce incompatibility issues. All too often when a new person joins the team this basic housekeeping is overlooked, whether through poor communication with current IT providers or sheer expediency and/or ignorance. Whilst this may not create issues in the near term, almost without exception problems will arise at a later date when the next person joins or a new device is added to the network.

A House of Commons briefing paper on business statistics published in December 2017 reported that there were 5.7 million businesses in the UK. Of these over 99% were classified as SMEs. Within the SME sector 5.5 million are described as micro businesses, employing fewer than 9 people. On the assumption that few if any businesses of this size have a budget for in house IT, this suggests that over 95% of UK businesses do not have ready access to in-house IT support.