Small businesses are becoming more and more reliant on technology. It’s just a fact of life. Yet, many small business owners are simply unaware of whether or not they are getting all they could be out of their technology. It is understandable that small business owners want to keep their IT simple to help keep the costs down and help facilitate their ability to focus on growing the business and their core objectives. However, this often leads to small businesses having a “good enough” mindset with regards to their technology performance instead of focusing on whether or not they are getting the most out of their systems.
In this blog post, we attempted to help this process by giving you some questions to consider about your overall technical infrastructure. By asking yourself these questions, you can better understand whether or not your IT could use a little more attention as you go into 2016.
Small Business IT Performance Assessment – The Questions
Does your technology contribute to your business efficiency?
Your IT should be an asset to your ability to operate, not a hurdle. Are you spending more time than you should be fixing the technology itself? Are you limited by what type of work you can do on your computer? Are you conducting many business processes outside of your technical infrastructure?
Does it support your ability to grow?
The best technology cannot support business growth if it doesn’t line up with core business goals and objectives. As the world shifts to being more and more digitally connected, small businesses need to reduce the percentage of budget spent on keeping the lights on and focus on technical innovation that can help them remain competitive.
Does your technology allow for business continuity?
If you were to experience a disaster, could your company survive? If your business relies on technology to operate, then you need to assess whether or not you would have the ability to recover your data and systems if something should happen. How frequently do your backups run? Are they automatic? Do your servers have redundancy built in to support maximum uptime? These are just a few of the questions that can help you understand whether or not your technology can support your businesses ability to operate through a disaster.
Do you know if your vendor contracts are up to date?
Tracking all of your assets and vendor contracts is no easy task, even for the smallest of organizations. However, you don’t want to wait until something goes wrong on one of your systems to learn that you are not under warranty because you didn’t follow through on your contract obligations, such as patch or update maintenance. Do you know which of your systems warranties are about to expire? Do you know what the terms involved in your vendor contract our? Knowing the answers to these questions prevents you from being blindsided when something does go wrong and you can’t get the vendor help that you need.
Do you find out immediately if your backup fails?
Are you absolutely sure that your data backups are all complete and able to be utilized in the event of a disaster? If your data backup fails, when do you find out? Many companies don’t find out until they actually need their backups that something has gone wrong. So, what notification process is currently in place to occur when a data backup does fail? Make sure that you have the answers to these questions before you need to restore your backups and find out that you can’t.
Do you know which equipment on your network might need to be replaced soon?
Are any of the components of your infrastructure nearing end-of-life? Are any of them in consistent need of maintenance and support? There are many reasons that different technical components need to be evaluated for whether or not they should be replaced. It is much more efficient (and significantly more cost effective) to consider these things before they crash and cause considerable downtime.
Does it allow you to work remotely while maintaining security?
The Internet of Things era has entered the business world, and there is no turning back. Whether your employees are using their smartphones to access email, or working remotely, you need to make sure that security is not compromised. Can you say for certain that security policies you have in place are enforced when your workers are outside the office?
Do you have the capacity and bandwidth you need to support your IT, both now and in the future?
Nothing kills business productivity faster than network downtime or congestion. Analyzing your bandwidth needs is critical to allowing you to keep up with end-users increasing expectation of speed and applications that are becoming hungrier and hungrier for more bandwidth. Moreover, if you’re bandwidth is a concern, you need to understand why. Where does the most congestion occur? Is it caused by business or personal/ social use? Can changes be made to dramatically increase efficiency that don’t require increasing the bandwidth? If you are introducing new systems, will your current capacity limitations be able to effectively support it?
Is the physical access and access security of your devices acceptable?
Having technology that is reliable, stable and efficient is great. But it doesn’t really matter how optimal it is if someone can walk right up and take it. Consider the security of your building, and the digital access given to employees for certain files. This is especially true if you are in a regulated industry and are subjected to compliance audits. Ask yourself: “Are there files that are critical to the company that are unsecure?” “Do former employees have access to anything?” “Could someone from the street walk in, pick up a computer, and leave with critical client data and company info?”
Is your technology flexible enough to be able to evolve as the IT industry evolves?
The IT industry evolves at an exponentially increasing rate. What you never want is to be locked into choices because some part of your technical infrastructure is inoperable with solutions other than what you currently are using. Make sure you know ahead of time if any of your components pose concerns to your infrastructure being able to evolve.
What are your current technology concerns or challenges?
Are you facing security concerns? Is your staff struggling to keep up with technology maintenance? Is shadow IT a bigger problem than you are currently equipped to control? Do you even know what their challenges are? Understanding how things are going currently within your IT department is the best way to be able to assess whether or not your current technology performance is something that can be sustained.
Are there any technology devices, systems, or topics that you are interested in discussing?
Are you interested in supporting mobile? Are you wondering if cloud technologies might be right for you? Knowing what you are considering for future technical changes can help you decide what needs to be analyzed ahead of time.
Using these questions will help you to determine if more attention needs to be paid to your technology systems. Need help with your IT Assessment? Contact our experts today to learn how we can help you.