No matter whether 2016 was a year of growth and expansion for your business, or one of challenges and toil, 2017 represents a fantastic opportunity. Central to capitalising on this opportunity is your I.T. department – now an integral part of any small business.
Firming your aims for 2017 will allow you a strong start to the New Year. So why not form some resolutions for your I.T. department and attack them with vigour this coming January? Here are 8 New Year’s resolutions for your I.T. department, and how to go about them.
Having one password for everything sure is handy – handy for anyone who wants to hack into your system or commandeer your accounts. While a disconcerting amount of people run with a one password system, more-often-than-not they’re well aware that they’re putting themselves and their business in danger. There’s one simple reason most don’t change their ways – laziness.
‘New Year, new you’ as the overused self-help saying goes. That new you will have a different password for every account that your business uses. While this may seem like a lot of hassle, utilities such as LastPass and iPassword actually make it incredibly easy. Most importantly though, it will heighten the security of your business systems exponentially.
Speaking of security, in the New Year you’ll resolutely conduct a security audit, identifying possible channels through which your systems can be breached. You’ll ensure that all of your business’s PCs have anti-malware, anti-spyware and firewall protection, and thanks to your newly developed password defences, you’ll be harder to digitally dupe than ever.
The weakest link in most computer systems will be the users. Phishing attacks and other email scams can so easily be fallen for if your staff aren’t taught what to look out for. Be sure to conduct staff training around these topics to ensure that your cyber security is where you need it to be.
Just think exactly how damaging a loss of data could be to your business. Even the smallest data loss event – one that may only cover a day – can represent a huge amount of reconstruction work. To prevent such an issue, a three-pronged backup procedure is recommended.
Local backup is every good business’s go-to backup system, and involves backing up your data onto an external hard drive. On PCs you can backup using File History, and on Macs it can be done with Time Machine.
Cloud backup is becoming far more popular, as the process can be automated and doesn’t require the use of a physical hard drive or USB. Because your business data will be floating around in the ether, it’s recommended that you encrypt it.
Off-site backup is a less common process, but is one that should be committed to if you’re serious about securing your data properly. Let’s say an earthquake occurs in your area – your external drive has been lost and the internet is disconnected, leaving you without any access to your data. An off-site backup is an external hard drive that you leave off the premises (your home, your parents’ home) that will allow you to reboot your system in an emergency. You may only update this back-up every few weeks as it will only be needed in the most dire of circumstances.
With extreme weather events becoming more and more frequent, your business’s I.T. systems are at the mercy of the fluctuations and failures of the power grid. Power spikes or outages can cause havoc, frying your equipment or sending it to sleep.
The solution? An uninterruptible power supply, or UPS. UPS units protect your business’s electronic equipment from power abnormalities and momentary outages. If acts of God are going to be more regular in 2017 than ever, you need to resolve to suitably protect your electronics.
Raise your hand if you’ve got over 1,000 unread emails. I’m going to go ahead and assume that there are a lot of palms above heads. The omnipresence of email marketing combined with email providers that offer almost unlimited amounts of space has resulted in a large chunk of the business community simply giving up on cleaning out their inboxes.
Make 2017 the year of inbox zero. It’ll be a harrowing process, but find time to delete every unread and unwanted email from your inbox, and make a habit of either vetting emails as they come in, or cleaning out your inbox at the end of every day or week.
While I could sell the benefits of saving the trees, the real reason to go paperless is far more enticing – it’s a far simpler way to run your business. Gone are the bulky filing cabinets, the messy manila folders and the blurry faxes. Everything becomes searchable, editable and sendable in an instant, creating a far more efficient and effective business machine.
Resolve to do away with the white stuff in as comprehensive a way as you can in 2017. Resources like this one can aid you in making the transition, and it may surprise you exactly how simple the process can be!
An extension of going paperless, digitising your business’s analogue media is an important process for anyone who wants to preserve their history. Analogue media can cover a broad range of things, including old business documents and contracts, awards and certifications, and photos and videos. Any analogue media can be converted to digital, and if it’s of great importance to you, it’s well worth doing.
This process may require that you invest in a scanner (for photos, certificates and the like) or even enlist the help of a professional (converting video tape to digital).
Intra-office systems – phone, computer network – tend to be the sorts of things that small businesses set and forget. As long as they’re doing the basics, there’s no real need to touch them. ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, seems the rallying cry.
But there may be an incredible amount of missed opportunity if you’re still running with the same intra-office communication systems that you were decades ago. New business phone technology allows for a huge amount of customisation, with scalability, integration, mobility and flexibility all better than ever. Make 2017 the year to bring your intra-office communication out of the dark ages.
At this point, 2017 will be whatever you make it. By putting thought into your I.T. resolutions, and by steadfastly following them through, your business should be in pretty good shape when you fondly look back at your efforts this time next year.