Wrap up 2021 knowing that your network and hardware are secure and ready for the new year with our Year-End Technology Checklist by Chief Technology Officer, Kelly Davis.
Review your backup devices and services
Commonly, the business backup solutions are as simple as having an external hard drive connected or saving documents elsewhere like a cloud backup. While this is suitable for retrieving single documents as needed, the real problem comes with bigger issues that include theft, natural disasters, or user error. Documents can be saved, but not software and business applications. And the biggest factor with a network failure is downtime incurred that leads to loss of productivity and potential business revenue. Assessing your backup services should include assessing the real cost of downtime and reviewing options to ensure full business recovery.
Clean Up Local Area Network (LAN) Drives
Most businesses have network based records storage for easy access by multiple employee users. As time passes, irrelevant or outdated information accumulates. You need an effective cleanup plan that occurs at least annually and that your team members clearly understand. Cleaning up your network drives of outdated files and archiving important documents will make all new information more readily accessible and create a more efficient and streamlined workflow.
Complete a technology inventory assessment
Have a full technology summary on hand that not only includes your servers, computers, and laptops, but every piece of tech hardware that employees use such as monitors, keyboard, and printers. This technology summary should also help identify what is needed for user productivity, the age of the hardware and what should be serviced or replaced. Having the inventory list will also help budget any future needs for replacement or upgrading.
Assess all your technology performance levels
As your business grows, so are the demands for today’s fast-paced technology growth. Performing an analysis of your business’s everyday technology-based communication tools can help drive your productivity and efficiency. Having a computer with high performance specs is only as good as your internet speed. Assessing the technology performance levels of your website, social media efforts and any other levels of your customer interfacing will help improve customer visibility as well.
Complete a network security assessment
With cybersecurity threats at its highest, businesses will have to prepare for potential harm to connected devices on their network. With access to the internet including not only network devices like computers, but also mobile devices on the go, the importance of being aware of all potential threats is vital and can save your business from a disastrous aftermath from a security breach. While a security assessment will not protect you from a cybersecurity attack, it will help ensure best practices are met at your weakest points of entry and prepare your business’s disaster recovery plan.
Evaluate for hardware and software upgrades
You might not need to stay current with every new released of the latest tech or software versions but keeping in tandem with the latest of each will go a long way. Ensure that you are up to date on the latest in data and systems security by utilizing modern equipment and software. Waiting too long to upgrade, what is referred to as being version locked, can spell disaster for you down the road.
Consider security policies for travel and working remotely
Corporate travel is a huge part of how companies conduct business, and as technology has become increasingly integrated into our work lives, we have had to bring it along for the ride. We don’t think twice about traveling with our phones or our laptops, but with company devices being veritable treasure troves of sensitive data, we really should be. A sensible corporate travel and work from home policy takes information technology and security into account, so that your data can be just as secure in the office as it is remotely.
Documentation is vitally important, especially where information technology is concerned. They are the policies that your employees are following, the reasoning why rationale for why things are done as they are done, and the signposts guiding your way when people are uncertain.
Documentation makes for consistency in work (and your expectations of that work), but consistency also makes for good documentation. That’s why you should make sure you are periodically reviewing everything to ensure they don’t show outdated policies.
So what should you be reviewing? The list is long, and might differ from company to company, but some good places to start include anything pertaining to onboarding and offboarding procedures, new user setups, a bring your own device/kit rental policy (if anything), password guidelines, vendor contracts, and website maintenance policies.
Consider tax advantages
If you have been considering upgrading any computer hardware in your office, including monitors, desktop systems, servers, or other items, now might be the time to review your needs. Once you have a cost estimate, you can review it with your accountant to see if you can take advantage of a Section 179 depreciation deduction on your 2020 taxes.
Consider cloud services
Common programs that many businesses use, such as Office 365, Microsoft Azure and SalesForce, already are or are becoming cloud-based platforms. Having your company information in the cloud should come with extra layers of cybersecurity and protocols to protect your network. To check this off your to-do list: Have your IT service provider conduct a cybersecurity audit to ensure there are no weaknesses a hacker could take advantage of if trying to breach your network. We recommend your company’s protocols adhere to the National Institute of Standards framework which has been developed as a cybersecurity standard for all businesses. Additionally, it is important to note that the multidisciplinary IT landscape, many times affected by other technological advances, such as the “internet of things” and artificial intelligence, is changing at a rapid pace. Due to the current complexity of the digital landscape, more and more companies contract “IT as a service” either as a supplement to their current IT provider or as a replacement to the entire department. Wrap up 2021 knowing that your network and hardware are secure and ready for the new year.