Anyone responsible for their company’s IT network faces an enormous amount of pressure to set up their network right. If your IT support partner isn’t helping you to make your business more profitable and efficient, your efforts will be considered a failure. Nobody needs that kind of stress.
So, what do you need to ensure your IT setup is helping to drive ROI, productivity and security? We think it can be summarised in seven key areas:
- Applications and Licensing
- IT Support
- The Cloud
- Web Hosting and Domain Name Management
In this post, we’ll be covering each of these areas in-depth. For each one, we’ll talk about the questions you need to be considering for when you approach prospective IT support partners. Where possible, we’ll also provide examples of how we’ve helped our clients with the practical setup.
Let’s start with the hardware you’ll be using. There are a number of questions you need to ask yourself, including:
- Will my employees be office-based, remote, or a combination of both?
- How long will I need a warranty for, and what do I need this to cover?
- What is my budget?
This will help you to consider hardware that’s fit for purpose.
One of our clients has a lot of remote workers, so they needed laptops that were lightweight and had long battery life. We didn’t recommend tablets as they tend to have low battery performances. Their staff turnover rates were low, so all the laptops came with long warranties. And the pricing was within their specified budget.
2. Applications and Licensing
As with your hardware, you have to know what your employees need applications for, and how long they’ll need to use them for. This will help you find apps that let them get on with what they need to do, and consider licensing that’s suitable and within budget.
Office 365 covers a lot of bases for many organisations. Word, Excel and PowerPoint are still staples of many office workers. But there’s now so many applications that cater for today’s cloud-centric, collaborative appetites. Teams allows for instant group messaging, while OneDrive reduces the need to send multiple documents over email.
Of course, not everyone in your office may need to use every single feature of Office 365. So you can save costs by deciding how much licensing everyone needs.
Deciding what telephones you and your employees need is about, yet again, purpose. Remote workers will need durable handsets. Office-based workers need landlines which have clear instructions on how to put callers on hold, and reach someone across the office floor.
As well as these requirements, a client of ours needed a phone that would be appropriate for conferencing. So we recommended them a piece of kit that was ideal for small conference rooms.
4. IT Support
Choosing an IT support company is about so much more than finding someone with competitive prices. You also need to know:
- If they can offer remote support for any non office-based workers
- What their help desk access is like – they might be 24/7 for mission critical issues but normal business hours for everything else
- How fast they can respond to issues, and if response times depend on issue severity
For many of our clients, we offer remote support and only visit their offices if a remote fix isn’t possible. We respond to severe issues in up to 30 minutes, and we define ‘severe’ as the service becoming totally unavailable and affecting all users in the network.
Not every provider will be the same. So before you reach out to anyone, have a think about your specific needs. Then, you’ll be in a better place to ask potential suppliers detailed questions.
5. The Cloud
The popularity of cloud-based services has risen dramatically over the last few years. With internet costs falling and bandwidth availability expanding, the cloud is becoming a standard feature of many businesses.
Cloud platforms are known for their ability to provide reliable backups and strong resilience. When our client asked about how to start using the cloud, we advised them to with a central file sharing tool. This makes data easy to share between devices and users, and ensures it is safe and backed up.
There a few kinds of cloud out there: public, private and hybrid. Think about your business needs again. This will help you to determine which kind is best for you.
Strong cyber security is essential. Today, cyber attacks are not a matter of if, but when. Most attackers don’t go after specific companies; they simply try their luck with anyone and everyone. Nevertheless, you need security in place that protects your IT network, but also doesn’t interfere with your day-to-day tasks.
We provide many clients, via a partnership, with an anti-virus service that has low system demands. This means they’re well protected and system resources aren’t having their performances affected. It also protects them against software vulnerabilities and data leaks.
Their firewall and websites are set up so each user has a private network within the site, without the need for additional equipment. And it comes with the option of relaying this setup across the entire WiFi network.
7. Web Hosting and Domain Name Management
Web hosting and domain names are particularly technical areas, as as such can be tricky to handle. So it’s good to know there are experts out there who can take care of this for you. We manage the following aspects for our client:
- Backups of all data
- Web server and database administration
- Blacklist checking of server IP
- Managed enterprise firewalls
- Fully redundant servers and disks
- Support for all open source platforms
- Website backend support and advice
All of which should accommodate most business requirements.
Use IT to Drive Profitability
Before you can know for certain what’ll you need from your IT support partner, you first need to understand your business thoroughly. Once you know what you need, you’ll be in a better position to approach prospective suppliers about what they offer for the essential features we’ve outlined here.
To learn about how we can improve your IT network, get in touch with us. We’ll show you how to use IT to increase profitability, drive productivity and boost security in your business.