Many businesses struggle with old or legacy IT systems, which can often take time and effort away from the main tasks of running the business. Here’s how to get the basics of your IT system up to scratch.
Many micro business owners, blessed with great business instinct but limited IT skills, may find themselves in an office with IT that is at best “non-standard”. This is a problem as reliable, fit for purpose and dependable IT is no longer something that’s a “nice-to-have”. Instead it’s a necessity for running a business. In fact, it’s the only way a business can remain competitive with larger firms without increasing their costs by employing large numbers of staff.
What to focus on
There are 4 key areas where a business should focus their attention in order to get the best value from their IT investment:
- A functional email system that links to their laptop, desktop and mobile phone.
Preferably a cloud-based service such as Hosted Exchange or Google Apps Email (which is like G-Mail but uses your domain name)
- Some form of regular backup procedure that allows company documents and files to be stored and recovered.
Preferably a cloud-based service such as DropBox or Google Docs
- Protection from an increasing number of internet threats that include spam, malware and viruses.
PC / Laptop anti-virus software and an effective firewall on a router
- Business-grade IT hardware that’s built for business users, not home users.
Not the latest deal in PC world but a business brand like HP or Dell
How you’ll benefit
Whether you yourself give these areas receive the time and thought to be set up correctly, or if you elect to outsource the management of these services to an external suppler, you can be certain your business will receive the following benefits:
- A rapid response to email inquiries, plus retaining an audit trail over multiple devices
- Confidence that lost or deleted information can be recovered with no noticeable impact to you or your clients
- Certainty that your business is protected against avoidable threats that could impact your ability to function, or put clients at risk
- Reliable IT hardware that is going to last and provides good long term value, and in turn increased efficiency for staff
Get your head in the cloud!
By getting your email and files (data) into a cloud location, the information can be accessed from anywhere and not just from a single PC or laptop. This is very useful if, as many micro businesses do, you collaborate with others but don’t share a fixed office. If you do have an office then it allows you to work more flexibly such as from home.
In respect to anti-virus services then one of the best around is currently FREE and is called Microsoft Security Essentials. It’s a Microsoft product and protects you against viruses and malware and can be installed (for free) in a business of up to ten users.
Hardware purchase requires a little more discussion than is available here, but make sure you get the right hardware from a business focused manufacturer. It will offer better long term value, it will last longer than the equipment designed for home use and it will result in your business being more reliable and thus profitable in the longer term.
Getting reliable IT services may not be as difficult as you might have first thought
Smaller businesses have the most to gain from cloud services. Two to ten users can have full email and file sharing features, allowing them to compete and challenge larger competitors who have bigger IT budgets. Huge benefits can be gained by tackling just email and data storage as outlined above with major transformations for a business’s productivity and reliability. So imagine what could be possible if you elected to tackle three or even all four of the listed important areas?
Don’t neglect your IT services. Instead spend a bit of time ensuring what you have is fit for purpose.