Don’t break what you just fixed...
Last week, I talked about how outdated technology is costing you a lot of money. In fact, it’s costing all of us a lot of money! At the end of that article, I very briefly mentioned setting standardized IT practices for your office to save money. After all, if you just performed the hardware upgrade equivalent of trading your old trustworthy Honda Civic in for a brand-new Mercedes-AMG GT R, it would be the most ridiculous looking policy ever to treat the new machine the same way as the old.
In fact, upgrading your hardware gives you, the business owner or office manager, the perfect excuse to lay down some best practices that may have even been needed with the old hardware. This opens the door to improved processes, increased productivity, and a natural segue into greater office efficiencies.
Without further ado, in case-of-the-Mondays skimmable form, here are some of the best office IT practices that any business can use (new and old hardware alike):
Create a folder creation and naming office standard.
- We’ve all done it. You create a folder that you are going to put everything into in a perfectly organized way. Good intentions are extremely high. Until a few months later when you have creative, financials, office docs, and pictures you accidentally backed up off your phone that one time you connected it all over the place. Multiply that scenario by every employee on your staff, and it is easy for things to get out of hand. A good practice of when a folder can be created and common naming standards can go a long way in keeping things easy to find and time productive. After all, “01232017” and “20170123” can both represent today’s date, but they archive in different order. Chaos I tell you!
Create Usage Policy Statements and conduct a network risk analysis.
- Whether you create and conduct these yourself or hire experts to do it for you, per Cisco (CisCom Solutions is a partner), this is a critical step in the setup of a properly secured office network. It is relatively easy to see why having a predetermined list of low, medium, and high risk network resources and who has access to them is a no-brainer in any business environment.
Develop new user checklists for acclimating to your IT policies.
- Nothing is more frustrating than feeling like you are being set up to fail. Keep a running tab on what new users in your office need to know, and make certain this is a part of their on-boarding. Not only will this save them frustration, but it will save you some stress and time by not having to go back and fix mistakes.
Know who to contact in emergencies.
- When that printer won’t print or that server won’t… serve, do you know who to contact for help without searching far? Is it under warranty still? Who knows these things in your organization? When the tech goes down, what is your plan “B” to stay up and running as a business? All tasks that should be planned proactively.
Maintain a dynamic list of common troubleshooting steps.
- I say “dynamic”, because I have worked for too many companies that have had a troubleshooting list… for equipment they no longer even used. If that wasn’t bad enough, still others will have current equipment listed, but they will still have steps that no longer apply to the current firmware. Troubleshooting steps are critical, and so is keeping them actively current.
Ensure copy is correct before printing documents.
- A few moments to double-check (or, let’s face it, triple-check on some days) your work before using up time and toner is both smart and cost-efficient. How many of us have clicked that print button only to realize we missed something? Yes. All of us.
- Now, this may initially be taken as being about “office supplies”, but I’m not talking about extra toner and paper here. Depending on the size of your business, having spare machines, components, even an extra server (in the cases of VM failover needs) can be a huge time-saver when you need as close to zero-downtime as possible. There is no such thing as “too prepared” when it comes to IT.
Create Unique Users.
- This might seem like a simple idea (and it is), but if you have multiple people using a system, then, without question, you need multiple unique usernames for that system. Security and accountability for company assets and office productivity can be hindered or helped by this very simple step.
Use an Up-to-date Antivirus & Firewall.
- No… the “free” one your tech guy recommends is not what I’m talking about. I am talking about feature-rich, business-grade tools that don’t just protect your business, but they help keep you at your most efficient and scalable. Products like the ones offered by our partners at SonicWALL and Bitdefender. Free tools on your business machines… what’s the matter with you?!
Backup, backup, and more backup!
- Did I mention backups? The level of redundancy in your backups all depends on your comfort level with how long your business can be “out of order”. For more on the topic, see our previous post on the topic of disaster recovery.
Hire a service company to manage your IT for you.
- My own employer’s bias aside, this just makes too much sense. You may very well have a perfectly competent IT support person on staff, but what happens when that person needs a break or has an emergency. Suddenly, their emergency becomes yours if even something minor that they usually took care of goes wrong. Having a MSP is a great idea to either handle all your needs, or at the very least, help your IT person manage things as a backup option. It isn’t a coincidence that a solid MSP can handle tips #1-10 for you, and that can be a significant amount of critical time you gain back to use in other areas of your business.
That’s it. Straightforward tips to keep your new (or perhaps old) tech running smoothly for as long as possible. The idea here isn’t that you need to spend a ton of time paying attention to the machines running your operations. It is the opposite idea in fact. With these policies and standards in place, or even better, with a Managed Service Provider (:: cough :: CisCom Solutions :: cough ::), you shouldn’t have to think about your office technology much… at all! I believe that is a goal we can all agree on.
For more information like this and the opportunity to connect with a great company that wants to see you succeed, be sure to follow, like, and otherwise share this blog. Don’t be a stranger… our social links are at the top of the page!