Challenges of Managing Small Business IT Needs?
Small businesses’ IT needs are similar to those of larger organizations. Both are exposed to the same dangers, but smaller organizations lack the money necessary to keep up with evolving cyber security and regulatory demands.
Most small businesses cannot afford an entire IT team, but they need to keep up with regular maintenance and updates to secure their infrastructure. Information technology is an integral part of modern-day businesses. Organizations should treat it as a core component of the company, not as a standalone department.
When you fail to consider IT as part of the holistic infrastructure, and the costs of un-managed IT and downtime catch you unawares, most business owners can be in for a rough surprise.
Add the same time, though, many business owners fail to make headway in their company’s IT operations simply because they do not know where to start. “IT” may start to feel like an endlessly complex topic and constant firefighting.
To get the most from your IT investment, consider hiring a reliable managed services provider like IT support 24/7 that can offer expertise in planning, design, implementation, and ongoing management of IT operations for your business.
Managed IT Services can help SMBs monitor their network to ensure it doesn’t experience downtime in the event of an unforeseen disaster (e.g., fire, flood, server failure, etc.). Timely and effective backups are also essential to most businesses, so having a reliable backup service running in tandem with an offsite data storage facility ensures that business owners know that their files will be secure in the event of a disaster.
SMBs Information Technology Assessment Checklist
If you are a small or medium-sized business owner, consider what information technology (IT) infrastructure is right for your company. For example, the best purchasing software available will help your business control costs and allow you to keep track of the company’s purchase requests.
The following checklist will help guide you in choosing the right IT solutions for your small business:
Invest in a Quality Computer
When purchasing a computer, you want to ensure three things:
- The laptop is powerful enough to do what you need. This might include having adequate RAM, disk space, and enough processing power.
- The computer is reliable. You’ll want to ensure it can run for long hours without crashing or running into issues.
- The computer is easy to use, meaning its hardware and software are straightforward for anyone who wants to use it.
There are other factors that go into buying a good machine, but these will help guide you toward getting started with your search process!
Pay Attention to IT Infrastructure
The following are some of the key components to consider when assessing your IT infrastructure:
- Computers and servers: If you don’t know how many computers you have, what kind of operating systems they run, and what kind of software is installed on each one, it will be difficult for an outsider to assess your IT infrastructure.
- Networking equipment: Your network might consist of a single computer with a router connected to an Ethernet cable connecting it to the internet or it could be comprised of hundreds or thousands of devices spread across multiple locations. Whatever your network looks like, an assessment should include an inventory list detailing every piece of hardware in use and their location in your office spaces (or homes).
- Printers: The same goes for printers; if you don’t know what printers are installed within each department/team/location, then this information must also be recorded during the assessment process.
Make Use of Cloud Software Solutions
Cloud software solutions are easy to implement, manage and scale and are a good option for SMBs. You don’t have to worry about expensive upfront costs or in-house infrastructure requirements. Cloud services also offer affordable pricing models that can meet the needs of small businesses at different stages of their growth trajectory.
Additionally, cloud software solutions are secure, reliable, and flexible. They provide IT professionals with the ability to deliver functions on an as-needed basis—and with minimal downtime when updates or upgrades need to occur (which is a huge plus).
An important part of your business strategy should ensure that information technology is performing at the highest level possible. The way you accomplish this is by making sure that your network stays up and running, it’s fast and responsive, secure from leaks or intrusions, monitored for any problems, and supported by tech support staff on a 24/7/365 basis.
Most importantly, you must ensure that your infrastructure remains scalable to grow as your business grows and flexible enough to accommodate rapid changes without disrupting the performance. It is best to plan out your network with the help of IT consulting services.
Security, Monitoring & Support
A security system is a key component of IT infrastructure, and access to the right one can mean the difference between an effective and efficient business or a data breach. A sound security system will not only ensure all your data is stored securely, but it will also protect your employees from threats such as viruses, malware, and more.
It’s important to note that while it’s possible to buy or lease a security system on your own, having an IT professional install it for you could save time and money in the long run. This is particularly applicable if something goes wrong with its setup or if there are maintenance issues down the road.
If your company has 5 or fewer employees, you need to be aware of the following:
- Ensure you have a network (internal and/or external) for remote access or file sharing;
- Make sure you have a backup system in place for critical data;
- Ensure that your firewall is configured properly, including rules to block unnecessary traffic on ports such as 25 (SMTP), 80 (HTTP), 81 (HTTPS), 110 (POP3), and 143 (IMAP4), 445 (CIFS);
- Install anti-virus software on all workstations and servers. Consider installing additional protection such as anti-spyware or anti-malware solutions as well if needed.
Post courtesy: Nora Erspamer, Director of Digital Marketing at New Charter Technologies