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  • Practical Small Business IT Support Checklist 

    October 13, 2022

    IT has become the cornerstone of small business operations today. You cannot run your business without small business IT support. Our simple checklist helps you discover your primary information technology challenges and needs. Our aim is to help you, the small business owner, determine your IT priorities and find the right solutions. 

    Your IT needs to support your core business activities. For most small businesses, these are:

    Let’s look at your critical IT needs and the best ways for small business owners to meet those needs.  It’s an important and short list:

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    Keep Control

    It’s often such a rush, with limited budget, to get your information technology set up. And it’s important to keep track of where your IT systems are hosted, and how to access it. This is one of the biggest issues we encounter when we do our initial IT audit.

    Even if you give your IT support provider adminstration access, make sure that you keep ownership and oversight of your critical IT items such as:

    • domain registration
    • website hosting
    • critical operations and accounting systems.

    Even if you’re not the one who sets them up, make sure you know who set them up, and how you can take back control if you need to.

    Avoid Getting Locked In

    Make sure you don’t get locked in to an IT provider unnecessarily. For example,there are some ‘all in one’ solutions that then lock you in to using all their systems. It’s easy to get up and running with them, which is great for the business started. But then it might be harder to migrate to something more suitable as the business grows. Making those choices consciously, and with the future in mind, is important. 

    IT Services Scope

    In today’s business environment, if you don’t have a digital presence, you really don’t exist at all. What services you need should be one of the first items on the IT checklist for small businesses. This makes sure that the services you use host (and protect) your current needs for:

    • email
    • internet
    • cloud storage
    • your website.

    You also need to be comfortable that, at least for some time, your IT services are scalable without being unduly expensive. You also want to be sure that your IT services include or give you easy access to backup and disaster recovery.

    Your IT services underlie everything about your business. They let you tell the world who you are and let you manage a local, regional or nationwide presence as a business. You need IT services that are robust yet cost-effective. Your network should be secure and highly reliable

    The IT services you select need to:

    • meet your operational needs
    • be relatively free of technical problems
    • not put too much of a strain on the knowledge base of your staff. 

    Most business owners today have some technology know-how. But your business needs IT services that offer responsive and comprehensive support and solutions to problems that arise. And can foresee future issues.

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    Software, Hardware and Network

    These days there seems to be constant ‘new kid on the block’ for software and hardware available. It’s important to avoid shiny object syndrome, and choose what is suitable for your business goals and growth.

    Software

    Software, by and far, are some of your most valuable assets. It’s easy to install software on a machine, but forgetting about the licences can be problematic. It’s important to make sure that all your licences are tracked and licensing costs optimised across the board. Some software aspects to consider:

    • Do you know all the software licences you have?
    • Is it installed and customised on both desktop and mobile devices?

    Hardware and Network

    Setting up your network and hardware and troubleshooting it when problems arise is another thing you need to have a strategy for. As you grow your business, it is easy to buy new equipment as you need it, but making sure that hardware and the network is set up correctly can be a challenge. Small businesses often purchase equipment that is not suitable for their particular workplace environment. It’s important to find a trusted advisor who can give you professional and competent advice on new equipment to can help you grow. Some things to consider:

    • Is all new and existing equipment compatible across your company?
    • Are your equipment and network set up correctly?
    • Is your operating system is standardised to make troubleshooting and maintenance easier?
    • Are all drivers are installed uniformly across your machines so that they are all working properly.

    Security

    Viruses and malware are a huge problem for small businesses. In fact, there are more than 350,000 new viruses or malware discovered every day, and in some countries, like the United States, this costs businesses around $50 billion per year. For small businesses without security coverage, this can be devastating. A virus could take your business’s computers down for a day or more and be detrimental to your employee’s productivity. Some things to consider:

    • Is the right virus and malware protection installed on all of your company’s machines?
    • Do you have two-factor authentication set up when appropriate for your team members?
    • Do you have best password practices in place?
    • Do you have secure WiFi at your physical business location?

    Back Up and Disaster Recovery Strategy

    Small business owners face the risk of losing digital data, without a back up and disaster recovery strategy. Your client lists, your transaction history, and most likely your payroll and other records are all probably digital and stored online. 

    While this is great for the cost of your office footprint by reducing the need for physical storage, it makes you highly vulnerable to ransomware attacks. Or even human error. For this reason, back up and disaster solutions and the necessary related tech support should be high on your IT checklist.

    You will want to have a continuous automatic cloud storage backup that maintains and updates your records at least daily. This kind of backup will ensure you can never lose more than a day’s data and that you will keep your business running smoothly.

    Disaster recovery planning ensures that you keep and can reproduce your records on very short notice. This makes you far less vulnerable to ransomware attacks or technical outages. It also ensures that – no matter what kind of attack or catastrophe you suffer – you will quickly be available to connect to your clients again. In other words, well-planned disaster recovery is essential to your business smoothly.

    Support for IT Services

    Business owners can’t wait days for support for their operating systems and IT services.  If you have no continual access to your information systems or no internet access, you have disappeared, even if only temporarily. 

    Most small business operations don’t have enough budget or need for a full-time IT information technology person on staff. But you will want to be sure that you partner with IT services that can provide support for all your needs.  

    Finding an IT support service that offers immediate access and supports your IT infrastructure is an essential part of your operating systems. It should be high on your technology checklist. 

    If, for example, you are a company in one of the industries with mandatory recordkeeping requirements for your business operations, you will want to be sure that the support services offered by your IT infrastructure let you meet those unique needs. Indeed, you must meet your budget responsibilities. But budget cannot trump a regulatory requirement for your business management.

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    Supporting Employees’ Productivity

    Finally, your IT checklist should include meeting employee team needs in your industry. Your company is its employees, and they must have the technology needed to do their jobs. No matter your company’s industry, it can only perform well with an IT infrastructure and expertise that lets your people do their jobs.

    If conference calls and video meetings are vital technology solutions for your business, then you must be sure that your information technology system makes it easy:

    • for your employees to implement and use those media
    • to keep records of them if you are required to do so. 

    Your IT systems’ video and recordkeeping resources must be robust, reliable, and rapidly restorable.

    Likewise, if you are in a data-driven business, you will want to be comfortable that your data is always available when you and your professionals need it. 

    The key to their team productivity is reliable and secure information technology. Recordkeeping, client presentations, and even email and in-house communications are vital to the smooth operation of your business. When outsourcing your IT services, you want a solution to consistently meet these vital needs. They are the tools of your trade and must be consistently available to you and your staff.

    Final Words

    In the end, your IT support checklist focuses on your business risks and needs.  In today’s increasingly remote business world, your computer and your IT services are the basis for virtually everything you do.  Business owners need a robust, responsive, and scalable IT service that will reliably solve IT issues. 

    You need to be sure that the hardware and software will support and grow with your business and that new needs for your organization will be met promptly and efficiently.

    In the end, you need an email system, internet access, cloud storage, operating systems, fit-for-purpose software and equipment, and outstanding security. These are the essential elements of an IT checklist for small businesses.

    Hitting all of these targets within your probably limited budget will make your information technology easier for you as a small business owner. Your IT provider should work as your partner, providing crucial assistance to meet your business needs.At Tech Seek, we provide a free IT audit, to help small business owners get on track with their information systems. Book in today to get started.