Many businesses understandably focus on one problem after the other without considering alternative, holistic solutions that could save a lot of time and money down the track. Strategic planning can drastically improve the efficiency of your business, but where do you start? Here are five critical areas that you can focus on to save your business from the headaches caused by slow systems and ineffective equipment.
1. IT strategy
Regular reviews of your IT strategy should be part of your business plan. The best way to do this is to categorise your data and then evaluate the best strategy for each category. Consider breaking your data down into these categories:
• General work files (e.g. Word, Excel, PowerPoint documents)
• Databases (e.g. CRM, ERP, products)
• Large data (e.g. Video, photos)
Quick check each category against the following criteria to assess whether you have the most efficient strategy:
• Will the current capacity meet future business needs and goals?
• Will the current functionality meet future needs and goals?
• What are the alternatives? Will an alternative solution offer more function, savings, flexibility or support? Generally, cloud based solutions are being considered here.
You may need to conduct your own initial reviews from the relevant internet review sites, or from our personal network. Then liaise with your IT provider to define your IT strategy.
It goes without saying that your employees spend a lot of time on their computers, so it’s prioritising simple ways they can improve their IT efficiency. Think about:
• Upgrading computers – the increase in productivity far outweighs the costs of a new computer, especially if their existing one is more than 3 years old. Old computers are slow and expensive to maintain because their warranty has expired, and giving employees a new computer will boost their morale.
• Dual screens – if desk-top space allows, dual monitors significantly boost productivity
Tablets or laptops with a docking station – they provide flexibility for employees who often work remotely strategy.
In today’s competitive environment you can get reduced rates on services such as the internet and phone connections by regularly reviewing your contracts, with many providers offering discounts if you renew before they expire. Look at your contracts for:
• Internet usage
• Landline and mobile phones
• Software licences
• Hardware warranties
4. IT infrastructure
Having robust IT infrastructure will minimise your downtime, and it pays to be proactive in maintaining it. The key areas to consider include:
• Managed Security – monitoring your network and keeping it well-protected will minimise downtime caused by viruses, spyware, ransomware and cyber attacks. These issues can also affect your business’s reputation, imagine the damage if an employee inadvertently sent an email containing a virus to your entire customer base?
• Patch Management – having your system maintained and updated by IT professionals will offer better protection to your network
5. Business continuity
If your business depends on your IT, then you need to incorporate business continuity into your overall business plan. What happens when you have an internet or power outage? What if there is a fire or flood in your building? Have you tested restoring your data from your backup?
Consider these best-practice ways of safeguarding your business
• Purchasing an additional internet line from a different internet-service provider
• Installing an uninterruptible power supply
• Utilising laptops/tablets that can run on battery power
• Having a spare wireless broadband facility as a standby
• Backing up your data in the cloud
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