By Ian M. Marlow
February 12, 2014
We live in an increasingly complex IT world. The exploding number of business computing options can be confusing for many business owners who are trying to figure out what their companies need, such as cloud computing and software as a service, on-premise vs. remote servers, the best security measures or backup protocol, and so much more. And let’s not forget budgeting or timing issues for all of this.
Working with an external IT service provider can help you assess your needs and work through some important considerations about your company’s computing infrastructure. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you research your IT needs.
Smart strategy first, organized execution second
Don’t let technology wag the dog – understand your IT needs first and allow your internal processes to drive your choices. Be thoughtful and organized about your decisions.
- Take the time to fully identify your company’s particular issues and the technology that will solve them.
- Think holistically about how the solution(s) will integrate with your existing systems—you might need more than one application to manage your IT needs.
- Research carefully and resist the urge to invest in “bells and whistles” that don’t serve you.
Next, plan your implementation phase to avoid unnecessary disruption of your business. Test and tweak before full deployment and train your staff thoroughly. Don’t expect your employees to just log on and go – train them, make sure they’re all comfortable using your new applications, and have reference materials available.
Yes, you can afford virtualization
Virtualization solutions include remote data centers, off-premise servers, cloud computing, and virtual desk tops among others. Between issues of business continuity, disaster recovery, and the growing trend of a mobile work force, this virtualization is critical in today’s data-driven and shifting business environment.
Many business owners believe, erroneously, that virtualization is too expensive for them; however, with a reasonable IT budget set at 2.5 to 3 percent of gross revenue, there are many measures that can be implemented. The right IT partner will present targeted solutions for your particular business, market, and budget.
Less is more
Don’t overload your office or your staff with more IT solutions than necessary—simpler is better. More IT means paying for more support and training than you need, and it can create a counter-productive situation due to too many places to locate or store data. Avoid overload by sourcing applications that serve multiple purposes whenever possible, add only what you need, and consolidate your system architecture to streamline computing operations.
One version for everyone
Avoid incompatibilities, misinformation and duplication of work by making sure everyone is working on the same version of all your files. This is especially important as you have multiple people working on site and remotely, and therefore accessing the information that’s stored in multiple locations--locally, network, Dropbox, SkyDrive, etc.
Match applications to your workforce
Assess how and where your employees work, and design your applications around that. Do they work at the office, from home, or in the field? Do they work in different environments at different times? What types of devices do they use?
Manage the mobile office
Mobile and remote offices are no longer strictly a business continuity measure but rather, comprise the emerging business-as-usual model. Employees and C-suite execs alike are questioning the traditional corporate infrastructure thanks to virtualization and cloud-based computing; as telecommuting proves, it isn’t necessary for everyone to be in the office all the time. Be sure your IT is up-to-date with the mobile office.
Back it up!
No one can afford to lose data so back up all business computers daily—at the office, employees’ homes (telecommuters), and in the field. You can back up locally and in the cloud for extra protection; make sure you have control over the backup and the information in cloud-based situations.
Protect your information
There are two types of security to be aware of: physical security, which concerns who has access to company data (such as logging on from a home computer) and virtual security, which is the ability of someone to copy that information. There are many safeguards that keep data private and protected, block certain users from accessing or removing what they should not, and provide alerts about who is logging in, downloading, etc.
Protect your message—and your brand
Email templates, signature control, and mobile device controls allow business owners to manage external company messaging and protect brand integrity. When these applications are the only ones available to employees, you will institute stronger corporate control over what goes out on behalf of your company, and the impression your communications convey.
If you’re thinking of updating your company’s IT, there’s no need to go it alone and guess. The professionals at FITECH can review your operation and recommend the IT solutions that make sense for your business; show you what’s new on the market; and explain how to integrate applications smoothly. Contact us today at (973) 575-8324 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your needs.