Launching and running a business is challenging. While many small-business owners work hard to plan and operate their sales, marketing, and staffing operations, essential IT requirements are often neglected, putting businesses at risk of snowballing technical issues. Here are five tips the experts agree are essential to keeping your business backed up, optimised, secure – and afloat.
1. Have a solid, secure online presence
There are some crucial features that are key for any small to medium-sized operation. You’ll need a domain name, which accurately reflects your business name or product, and a reliable internet connection and hosting company. Invest in a layered digital security platform, which ought to protect all of your connected devices which store company information. It’s also fundamental to your business’ security that you regularly back up your data in an offsite location.
2. Make sure your IT applications are reliable
With so many plugins and workflow/systems on the market, how do small businesses work out what’s essential, while keeping on top of their systems and not wasting time managing their IT? Converting prospects into sales is only half the battle. How you manage the customer experience and processes internally is an ongoing challenge, and even on a good day, things don’t always go to plan. The advice is not be overly reliant on subscription-based applications; if the provider goes out of business, or there’s an issue with your payments, you run the risk of losing data.
3. Let the pros handle the “heavy lifting”
IT is a specialised profession. Just because professional service providers make it look easy, managing the multiple demands on SMEs is a skill, and requires a high level of commitment. While it’s certainly possible for an SME to operate its own systems/applications in-house, it may result in sub-standard systems or processes being installed or introduced, so may not be productive in the long run. Any business that relies on their technology and systems to operate, should have them managed by a professional.
4. Choose wisely when it comes to your SaaS options
Software as a Service, or SaaS, is an option many businesses explore so that their storage and business upkeep requirements are managed (hopefully) reliably, and affordably in the cloud. Making sure your data is backed up and safely stored is vital! Do your research, so that you can be safe in the knowledge that whichever security and archiving software packages you use are genuine and reputable, backed up with service guarantees and provided by experienced professionals.
5. Get your support guaranteed in writing
Securing your own outsourced IT facilities, maintenance, and infrastructure also requires careful consideration, as well as benefits to SMEs who opt to “keep it local” by engaging a local operator. In fact, simply by choosing a service provider who understands your business IT needs and is able to deliver a professional level of service, you’ll ensure your IT is being managed and serviced. A “best practice” approach is also to ensure you have a written contract with basic service level agreements. If everything is in writing, nothing can be left to chance or get lost in translation. If it’s written down and agreed to in writing – chances are, it’s going to get done.