Your IT network is like the blood of your company, moving information throughout and keeping your business alive and thriving. If the blood stops flowing, the body (your company) ceases to function. Just like your annual wellness exam, it is important for the small-to-medium-sized business owner (yes, you!) to inspect this vital system. Your role in this process is to understand, at a high-level, how your IT network is performing, how it is prepared to handle security threats, and how it will adapt with the ebb and flow of your business.
Regardless of if you are equipped with an internal IT team, work with an outside vendor, or have a combination of the two, we recommend that you challenge yourself to carefully consider each question. If you get stuck, we'll help you out. So take a moment to refill your cup of coffee, change your business skype status to “busy” and begin.
STEP 1: BUILD A ROADMAP
Ask yourself the following questions:
How is your company growing and what changes are you anticipating?
What are your short term and five-year business goals and how does technology factor into these plans?
Outline a brief description ofwhyyou need IT,what you need it to do, andhowit will support your business.
Set a realistic budget for your IT needs that includes software updates, purchasing new warranties, and upgrading equipment.
STEP 2: INSPECT EQUIPMENT & ASSETS
Does your company operate on old and outdated equipment?
Is your entire infrastructure covered under warranty? Using outdated equipment and applications with expired warranties puts your network at risk for virus attacks and downtime.
Will newer, faster servers, workstations and mobile devices produce more sales, greater efficiency and lead to increased company profit? It's important for every owner to know how IT expenditures relate to company productivity.
If you're spending money on an outdated system that runs slow and crashes frequently, how does that impact an employee's output?
STEP 3: CREATE A BUSINESS DISASTER RECOVERY PLAN (BDR)
Simply put, A BDR plan are the actions that will be taken in the event of a disaster, so that your business experiences the shortest and most cost-effective downtime possible.
Ensure that your IT manager or outside company has a business continuity plan in place, that it's been tested, and that it works!
Outline the steps and point people responsible to reestablish security, should there be a breach.
STEP 4: ENSURE BACKUPS ARE RELIABLE & ACCESSIBLE
How quickly can backups be restored in an emergency to keep your business functional?
Realistically, how long can your company operate if your network is down?
Whether it's an earthquake or flood, hacker, or a malfunctioned server, it's essential that business critical systems and applications are backed up via a reliable source. As a general rule of thumb, we recommend a plan that will you get you up and running again in under an hour. Many companies use a combo of on premise and virtual backup systems in case the physical location becomes compromised.
STEP 5: PERFORM A SECURITY CHECK
Does your company have the proper firewalls and network security layers in place to adhere with compliance standards such as PCI and HIPPA?
How often are your employees educated on proper safety etiquette? It is often a simple mistake from one person that subjects the entire company to high risk situations. With ransomware on the rise, it’s now more than ever important that all staff are regularly educated on best practices.
How are you monitoring and reducing access rights to data throughout systems and applications?
Do you have a designated IT professional on staff (or an outside company) that can be available to clean the machines that become infected with viruses or other malware?
Lastly, define a process and point person for deploying security patches for the operating system and applications.
The health of an IT network can make or break a company. We’re glad that you have prioritized this health check and hope that this guide will facilitate critical conversations at your business.
If these questions were difficult to answer or left you feeling uncertain about your current IT environment, don’t worry! We would love to perform an IT Consultation at your business. Our team can partner with you to plan out your IT strategy and budget and make sure that your projects in your roadmap get done on time and within budget, so you can concentrate on growing your business.
We are committed to helping YOUR business develop proactive AND cost-effective it strategies that minimize risk and maximize efficiency. you can schedule a conSULtation or call us at (866) 575-9512.