We know that going about getting your IT sorted out can be daunting – especially if you’re a small business who is just starting out. So we hope we can make it easier with this quick guide, which runs through the basics.
Part 1: Setting up
Setting up your IT systems is crucial, and requires a lot of careful consideration. Think about the size of your business – is it just you, or do you have a number of people working for you? Are you going to be based in the city where you’ll have access to high-speed broadband or is a rural area going to make internet connectivity an issue?
- Buy, don’t assemble: Unless you’re extremely tech-savvy, we suggest that you buy computers instead of assembling them yourself. Buying individual hardware and putting it together can work out to be quite expensive, and will take up a lot of time.
- Only install the software that you need: It can be tempting to be enticed by all of the software packages available. And sometimes buying software bundles does make sense if you’re going to be using all of it and it works out to be more expensive to buy them individually. But there’s an increasing number of open-source software and freeware available, so do look around before you commit to buying something.
- Restrict access to programs based on job role: Once you’ve decided on the software, have a think about who’s going to be using it. Paid software packages often come with expensive licensing costs, so only give access to people who you know will be using it.
- Get your internet sorted out: Even if you don’t need a flurry of programs, a good internet connection is a must. Your customers need to be able to get in touch with you via email, and you probably have a social media presence as well. If this is the case, a decently fast, reliable connection should do the trick. But if you’re a bigger business, who requires a strong, high-speed internet connection, look into getting a dedicated line set up. It costs more, but it could be well worth it.
Part 2: Security
So you’ve got everything set up, and it all seems to be running fine. Have you thought about security? The internet is a great place, but it also houses a lot of threats. Luckily, getting protected from them isn’t as hard as you may think.
- Install security software: Security software is essential, and you cannot neglect it. There are three things you need – antivirus, anti-spyware, and a firewall. Depending on the security package you’ve got, they may come separately or be bundled into one. Windows Operating Systems come with their own version, and they do a good job. But if you want something a bit more advanced, you can also purchase security suites that provide a little more protection. Other free options are also available online, so do some hunting – we promise it will pay off.
- Always backup everything: If you’ve ever lost any data that wasn’t backed up, you know what it feels like. So always make sure to take regular backups of everything that’s stored on your systems. If you’ve got large amounts of data, invest in backup servers. Larger companies would also do well to have offsite servers just in case.
- Don’t underestimate passwords: With multiple employees using work terminals, encourage the use of passwords to keep their computers secure when not in use. Set guidelines about the length of the password (8 characters minimum is recommended), emphasising on setting passwords that are difficult to guess.
Part 3: Troubleshooting and maintenance
Everything is installed, protected and running smoothly – great! But what do you do if something goes wrong? Again, this depends on the size of your business – it may be easy to fix the occasional problem on the only computer in use, but what if you have 50 of them and only two people in the IT team?
- Implement a ticketing system: If you’re finding that your IT department is unable to keep up with troubleshooting requests from everyone, then you should opt for a ticketing system, where people submit help requests or ‘tickets’. This not only ensures that requests get sent through to the right person, but your IT team will be able to prioritise, assign and complete tasks in a much more efficient manner.
- Replacing is often easier than fixing: When your systems develop serious problems, you might want to think about whether it’s worth just replacing the problem part altogether. Because while it seems like fixing it may be easier at first, the costs can quickly add up to a point where you’re spending a lot more than the price of a new component.
- Consider hot-desking: As your business continues to grow and you get more employees, you should consider adding hot-desking to your IT infrastructure. In simple terms, it means that a majority of the data is saved to your servers, rather than individual computers, so that people can use any computer they want on your network and still have access to their files. This will come in especially useful as you expand to multiple offices.
These are just a few tips to help you get started on planning your IT infrastructure. Remember – it’s not as daunting as it initially seems – just do your research and don’t be afraid to ask for professional help!