If you are a small business, what are your most important IT needs? With an effective IT strategy your business can achieve goals and align with your operations. Here’s a checklist of the essential IT requirements your small business needs:
When you first set up your IT you will need to ensure that you have configured your floor space, know where workstations will be and ensure that there is enough power points and cabling for each. Don't forget to plan for the possibility of additional staff and workstations if you need to expand.
Website and Domain
Your website is important. Having a good web developer to make sure that your website accurately reflects your business services is important. Always keep your website domain name and email servers up to date.
You can approach your IT strategy in two ways; there is the classic IT strategy and then there is the agile strategy which takes into account the need for flexibility and speed.
Classic IT Strategy
- Identify the business capabilities needed in the next 3-5 years and plan accordingly.
- Identify what technology is needed now and what gaps there might be in reaching the business' goals.
- Develop a clear IT roadmap for getting there.
Agile IT Strategy
- Identify business capabilities needed for the current business strategy and vision.
- Develop a high level IT vision that incorporates and supports the company's strategy.
- Identify and prioritize the technology required to bridge gaps in the current business capability.
- Develop a clear IT roadmap indicating the times for implementing new technology.
The most worrying aspect of your IT is when your 'Network goes down'. Having some form of external network support can be a essential for maintaining your business' capacity to communicate.
- You have an IT support expert to turn to in order to ensure that the network is still secure and can be restored.
- You have a checklist, prepared by an IT expert, of what to do in such an event.
There has been an increase in the need for businesses to provide remote working solution for employees whether it is an increase in working from home or from the greater need for collaboration with online conferencing. Can your staff access the network and data from outside the office?
Small businesses need a lot of equipment to get going. What cloud computing options are there to help you and are all your PCs network-enabled.
- How many PCs (or MACs) do you need?
- Is your fax/printer connected and drivers installed on all machines?
- Do you need integration with shop-floor or remote stations?
- What telephone system is required?
Do you still need the standard fax and phone line? You may find it beneficial to install VoIP, or something similar.
- Basic phone line - a traditional phone that comes with voicemail.
- Digital phone (VoIP) - calls are made and received using hardware that connects to your broadband or fibre offering every feature your business could need.
- Hosted VoIP - This uses your computer to make and receive phone calls, without the need for additional telephone hardware.
What your business does will dictate the kind of software your computers require. Do you need a bespoke package which incorporates both your inventory and accounting or can you adapt an off the shelf option?
- How many Microsoft office licences do you need and will you need more in the short term?
- Your antivirus software is up to date
- What specialist software is available?
This is a twofold issue, make sure you have a safeguard over both the physical theft of your hardware as well as from online threats.
- Having a safe and secure area for servers as well as a clear policy for leaving computers unattended.
- Passwords are set as well as individual user profiles for each employee with relative levels of access.
- You have virus protection installed on all your computers.
Cloud computing has become hugely popular and can ease the worry over data storage and management. There are three levels of cloud computing you can use:
- Infrastructure - this is the one you will most likely be using, where you rent the IT infrastructure including servers, storage and networks and pay a rent for them.
- Platform - which refers to an on-demand environment making it easy for developers to create apps without having to worry about networks and databases.
- Software - when you deliver software applications over the internet the cloud hosts both the software application and the infrastructure.
Backup & Recovery
If you lost all your data, how long would it take to get you back up and running again? You can avoid this issue by enabling a regular system of backups for your data.
- Having a document restore process.
- All essential work data is stored on the company servers.
Always consider that your IT system will need regular maintenance to ensure that housekeeping is undertaken and preventative measures to threats are monitored and updated. You will also need to deal with critical issues as and when they happen.
- Put in place a regular programme of system maintenance to avoid overloading your system and spotting potential errors.
Health & Safety
Being aware of your business' responsibilities of Health & Safety includes making sure all servers are well ventilated, the number of power outlets is suitable and your cabling is not causing a trip hazard. Have consideration of how ergonomic your workstations are.
When users know how software works, they are more productive. Software training helps, and training is always a recommended option. Establish what your users require to get the most out of your software.
- Office staff trying to open up programmes, save data or send information is a waste of their and colleagues' valuable time.
- Do users know how their software work and are completing tasks.
- Implement training where necessary to maximise their productivity.
- Check in regularly with employees to ensure skills are being used and if further training is necessary especially when upgrades and newer versions are installed.
Continually revisit your small business IT checklist to get the most out of your technology and your business ability to change and move with an ever-changing tech landscape.
For more information or advice on our essential IT checklist, contact us today.