One in Four Small Businesses Get Failing Grade in IT


One fourth of small businesses are getting a grade of “D” or “F” when it comes to their information technology.

This comes from the Midyear 2009 report of the IT Effectiveness Index, an online survey of small businesses with 100 employees or fewer.

The grade means that SMBs are not taking sufficient steps to develop and maintain their IT systems to prevent business disruption.  Small businesses are not observing best practices on measures such as:

  • having enough qualified tech staff;
  • good IT security to protect against hackers, and intrusions and other insecurities;
  • disaster recovery preparations;
  • downtime of your systems; and
  • incident reporting and management.

The survey is a year-long initiative. It is still going on through the end of 2009 — and you can take the survey now.  The survey takes only about 5 minutes.  The questions are short multiple choice questions, as you can see:

IT Effectiveness Index

After you take the survey, you get two things.

First, immediately upon finishing the online survey, you are presented with a grade of A through F.  I took the survey — twice actually — and each time got a grade of “C” for my business.  While that was not a great score, it helped me put into perspective my activities.

Second, within a few minutes, you get a more detailed benchmarking report emailed to you.  The report has a few charts and an explanation of the areas of weakness and some preliminary suggestions for how to deal the weaknesses in your organization.   Here are the two charts from the report I received when I took the survey most recently:

ITEI benchmarking graphs

The survey is run by a consortium of nine partners — we at Small Business Trends are one of the nine  organizations that have come together to run the survey, along with HostSearch; Kennesaw State University; Microsoft; The Planet; Small and Medium Business Technology Network; SmallBizTechnology.com; SMB Nation; and the Yankee Group.

Ask yourself:  how deeply would your business be hurt if you didn’t have your IT systems working for a day, a week or longer?  If that question makes you want to find a paper bag so you can stop hyperventilating, take the ITEI survey yourself.


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Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.