Many businesses use the quiet period between Christmas and New Year to look at their business, work out areas that need improving and plan for the year ahead. Investing in technology can help your business prosper as well as enable your employees to work more efficiently. Here we have outlined some of the key technology areas to focus on to help your business run smoothly over the year ahead.
Plan twelve months ahead as to what you will need in terms of hardware, software, IT security and connectivity. It is tempting to be reactive with IT issues and deal with problems as they arise but there are many hidden costs with this approach such as; issues escalating and being more expensive to fix, slow computers that affect productivity and glitchy computers that have security issues. By being proactive you can ensure computers are serviced, upgrades made when needed, new hardware and software in place for new staff and new IT solutions put in place with training to enable the business the thrive.
Look at your business objectives and find out where you need to focus your IT investments. Do you want your business to be more agile? Do you need to facilitate more flexible working and is your remote working secure? If you are expanding do you need more hardware, better telephone systems and a faster and more reliable broadband? Enlist the help of your IT support to carry an IT audit to assess the weaknesses within your systems and at the very least service computers so that they are working efficiently, securely and not causing lost hours of productivity.
For many businesses buying products as a service rather than having to make large capital investments, like on-site servers, can enable smaller businesses to access IT solutions previously only available to larger companies. Cloud solutions are not only cost effective and reliable but enhance flexible working, ensuring that employees working remotely can access all essential files, collaborate with colleagues and work efficiently.
Managed IT Services
Effective use of technology can have a very positive impact on a business; however it is sometimes difficult to quantify the negative impact of poor IT systems and infrastructure. Utilising IT resources well can save time and money as well as enhance the productivity of your business. Managed IT Services, such as our Bronze Plan, will proactively monitor and manage your IT, enabling you to get on with running your business safe in the knowledge that your systems are running efficiently and securely.
Secure data backup
Whether you have been a victim of a cyber-crime, have a failed hard drive or one of your employees has accidentally lost critical data a good back up is the fastest way to recover and any damage can be quickly reversed, with a recent back up. Many small businesses rely on a traditional hardware-based solution but these are vulnerable to physical damage and rely on employees to manage and are therefore susceptible to human error. Cloud backup solutions, such as Microsoft 365, are more efficient and can be accessed from any device connected to the internet, can be automated to avoid human error and are often a more cost-effective and scalable solution.
Good quality Email
Email is probably the most ubiquitous technology used to communicate in the business world. A professional email system using your own domain address can help build trust and stronger client relationships. Microsoft 365 Exchange Online has been providing professional email systems to businesses for many years and offers a raft of features and options that enable your business to communicate effectively and work productively. Having the ability to manage your team and policies can boost productivity whilst setting up aliases, groups and shared mailboxes can easily ensure that people only need to use one account to access everything they need.
Voice over IP delivers telephone communication via the internet in place of a landline. Call quality is just as good as traditional phones but there are huge savings on set up costs and monthly bills. Call charges are generally much cheaper, because by using the internet, geography becomes less of an issue. Long distance and international calls do not suffer from premium prices, and if all your staff are on VoIP, internal call costs are essentially zero. VoIP also offers additional features like voicemail, call divert, call forwarding, call recording, conference calling and hunt groups (a group of people set up to take incoming calls). VoIP users can make calls to, and be called from, conventional landlines. Find out more about Adept VoIP Plans.
With cyber security issues increasing it is critical that you follow good password management practices to safeguard your business from getting hacked. Using unique and complex passwords for each account is important and if security is important to your business use a password manager such as LastPass or Roboform.
There is a proliferation of adware, spyware and malware so good anti-virus software is a simple and important way of ensuring that your data is protected. AV software varies considerably in quality so do some research, we would recommend ESET or signing up to our Bronze Plan. Alternatively seek advice from your local IT expert.
IT security policy
Cybercrime has escalated so an annual review of how and where company and client data is stored is important and may have compliance implications as well. Putting safeguards in place can help to prevent data breaches, fraud and identity theft, as well as increase customer confidence. With the help of an IT expert carry out an IT security audit on your IT systems to determine any gaps and weaknesses, so you can make the necessary changes to ensure that your business is well protected.
A growing proportion of business now starts online so if your business doesn’t show up on searches or is unseen on social media, your business is missing out on potential new leads. Ensuring you have a professional website, that ranks well for your key areas of business or has a good social media presence amongst your target market, can really help boost your business and provide you with a competitive edge that will help you grow.
Good and pragmatic use of technology can give your small business the ability to work flexibly, efficiently and provide a great customer experience. As we head into uncertain economic times it becomes critical to focus on areas of the business that enable your business to thrive. We help many small businesses get the most out of their technology and within an agreed budget, please get in touch.