How To Implement Best Practices For Business IT

As a business owner, it can be overwhelming trying to stay up to date in the latest and greatest best practices for business technologies, but you know you need to keep your network, systems, and data safe in order to keep your office operations humming along.

Having a comprehensive IT management plan is a key step in the right direction. The problem is, there is no single set of rules or protocols that will work perfectly for every business and accross all office needs.

When you work directly with an IT services provider, a team of experienced technicians helps you identify the technology needs of your organization and employees, and then designs your customized, reliable and comprehensive IT solutions plan.

As for mapping out the details of each IT solutions plan, the requirements and specific policies will vary greatly based upon each organization’s:

  • Hardware limitations
  • Industry-related security requirements (HIPAA requirements, PCI Compliance, etc.)
  • Data transfer
  • Data access demands
  • Backup needs and requirements
  • Business obligations for unified configurations

But keep in mind, there are a number of fundamentals each business must consider when developing, maintaining or revamping their IT systems and networks.  Here is a walkthrough to cover the basics of  office IT necessities to help you cover the best practices for your business. 

1) Disaster Recovery and Data Backup

Uncle Sam Poster

First and foremost, when your business has crucial data, your office IT systems must have the right backup solutions in place. Whether you run a botique wealth management firm or a multi-office cosmetic surgery practice, data should be backed up religiously.

Not only does the success of your business depend upon having reliable, up-to-date versions of your files, but you can’t allow a natural disaster, theft or rogue user take down your operations!

A key component of protecting your business is creating the processes and procedures to properly assign the responsibility for backing up your business data each day.

Yet the hardest part can be making sure they are actually implemented and completed daily to ensure that your day’s work doesn’t go missing.

When you ensure that your information is stored, saved and replicated, you lay the foundation for proper business continuity and enable your business’ disaster recovery planning

 

Here are some of the most common data backup solutions used by local businesses and organizations:

  • Manual Back-Up – One of the simplest ways to back up data is to move all your information into one file, and then transfer that file to a portable hard drive.
  • This is a common data backup ritual for small businesses, but it has many drawbacks and can present significant risks to your Office IT:
    • When backing up large amounts of data, it is a slow, tedious process
    • The hard drives you use are just as likely to get lost, corrupted, or damaged in some sort of disaster scenario (fire, earthquake, etc.) if they are stored in the same location
    • If you do keep your external drives at a separate location, it is quite common to see actual backups fall behind and out of date as drives must be transported round trip and time must be allocated for periodic backups.
    • Without automated processes in place, your business becomes reliant on the manual process and employees not getting side-tracked by daily work operations
  • Remote Servers – Many businesses backup their data by transferring it to a set of computer servers at another location.
    • This is a form of secure P2P file-sharing called “friend-to-friend,” and it is especially helpful for businesses that have multiple offices.
    • There chance of data getting stolen along the way is lower than with other options, and the information will be stored safely in multiple locations. However, there is still the risk of both servers being destroyed in a large-scale disaster situation.
  • Cloud Storage – One of the newest, most advanced forms of data backup is Cloud storage, which  stores your data on multiple remote computer servers. 
  • These cloud servers are maintained by a hosting company that ensures the data security and redundancy of their services.
  • In terms of continuity, cloud technology offers one of the strongest forms of data backup solutions as it involves having multiple copies of your data created, accessible from any location with a secure Internet connection.

2) Security

Bay Area IT Security

The modern world is overrun with threats from cyber criminals attempting to exploit people online.

Some are sophisticated hackers looking to steal money or electronically stored protected personal health information from secure computer systems.

Others may be mere spammers attempting to inundate your company with junk mail or advertisements with hopes of hoodwinking your employees into the latest cyber scam.

Their weapons may be relatively simple (phishing attack), slightly more advanced (spear-phishing attacks) or possibly quite advanced and sophistacted in their methods (Rombertik and “wiper” malwares)

There are even “hackers for hire,” who are the digital mercenaries hired by competitors to crash your systems or harm your business reputation. Whatever the threat, you must stay prepared.

Know that different operating systems require different malware protection, but there are some basic data security tips that will keep your office IT system as foolproof as possible. Consider the following:

  • Choose unique passwords
  • Diversify your password
  • Regularly update your anti-virus software
  • Avoid pop-ups
  • Limit Administrator access to one person

3) Maintenance

N64 Game Cartridge

When it comes to office IT, it is important to make sure that you have your computer maintenance consistently covered.

This includes everything from server maintenance to scheduled software updates, and the bigger your invesment, higher the likelihood that you should also invest in an extended manufacturer’s warranty.

Whenever our clients make major investments in their technologies, we always investigate the best warranty options for them and help them evalaute if the investment is worthwhile, depending on the terms.

There are far too many variables to accept hard-line rules across the board when it comes to IT maintenance. The only thing you can know for certain is if you have the right resources on your side to ensure that you will always be able to handle dealing with any unexpected tech support problems or even IT disaster recovery necessary situations.

Basically ask yourself, “Do I know who to call?”

Computers break like everything else, and when your data is lost or your work flow is stalled, this can be a disastrous time to try “DIY” computer maintenance. Having a managed IT services provider is the best way to get your equipment back up and running in no time.

4) Disaster Planning

1960's Bomb Shelter

Disaster planning is an integral part of any foolproof IT system. Whenever there is a large scale natural disaster (like the 2011 tsunami in Japan) businesses can be destroyed just as easily as homes. If you employ local backup solutions and lose your data along with your office/equipment, you may never recover. This is why you need a plan of action for the worst possible scenario.

Disaster preparedness, or business continuity, includes 3 important aspects:

  • Data Recovery – You need to recover all of your data from the backup location (and immediately “backup the backup” since the first backup becomes your original)
  • Replace Damaged Equipment – This can be difficult if an office or computer server was destroyed, but it is important to salvage whatever you can. Having a well-designed BYOD policy may also allow you to get by in the short term.
  • Data Access – If your office was destroyed or rendered inaccessible (but your data was stored remotely) you need a way to access the backups while you sort things out. This is where Internet-enabled cloud computing becomes so valuable.

While technology advances each and every day, making sure that your IT is built upon sound foundation will always be a wise investment to enable your company to succeed. 

As you seek out the best tech solutions and IT services for your business, make sure you have the right partner on board to help you develop the best strategy for storing, accessing and protecting your mission-critical data and for securing your network and systems. 

There’s a reason that such for a wide range of businesses throughout the Bay Area depend on managed services providers:

When you work with professional IT services experts, your business becomes free to focus on your core competencies, key clients and most crucial projects to help keep your clients happy.

If you are interested in learning more about what options would work best for your organization, Contact Us at (925) 459-8500. With years of experience and our friendly team of technicians, Bay Computing is proud to serve as one of the premier IT service providers in the East Bay Area!

 

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