Technology is an integral factor in the success of small businesses, often allowing entrepreneurs to scale up their operations through the use of smart solutions. Whatever the industry the business is in, knowing how to maximize the use of new technologies can significantly increase its productivity.
One of the roadblocks for small businesses is the limitation of not having adequate resources to hire a dedicated IT team to oversee the tech needs of the company. This checklist is then created to serve as a guide for business owners to know what IT essentials they should prioritize to move their business forward.
High-speed Internet and Network Connection
Before purchasing or acquiring anything, entrepreneurs should first ensure that their place of business has access to fast and reliable internet connection. Setting up computer hardware, software and many other office equipment would usually require an internet connection so taking care of this matter first will save a lot of time.
Most office tasks also rely on internet availability. Additionally, many customers expect to communicate with companies through email, social media, and other internet platforms.
If the business is run remotely, meaning there is no permanent workplace, make sure that all employees will have access to a secure internet line. Using public Wi-Fi networks can open businesses to security risks which may lead to loss of valuable company data.
Computer Hardware and Equipment
State-of-the-art computers and office equipment come with many features that will undoubtedly make office work move faster. Often, the use of cutting-edge technology is necessary to be at par with the competition. However, not a lot of businesses can afford to shell out a huge amount upfront, while some simply do not have the financial capability to acquire the latest models.
When downgrading is not an option, a smart move that will allow business owners to have the best of both worlds is to consider leasing equipment. Leasing instead of buying can save thousands in upfront costs without sacrificing quality as it allows companies to still utilize the latest technology.
The tech industry is very dynamic so it is not uncommon to find very expensive machines to lose its value after just several months. Leasing a machine solves this issue because company owners will only need to exchange the machine for a newer model. They would not need to worry about how to drum up funds to buy a new machine or how to sell the old machines to recover their previous investments.
Up-to-date Software Solutions
Computer software solutions are essential tools that can support different areas of the business. They make processes and workflows move faster and more efficient. When choosing the right software, it is not always wise to go for the most expensive option. It is more important to see how a particular software will suit the company’s needs rather than having the business adjusting to the software functions.
For example, don’t choose a complicated Accounting System with high-end features that will never even be utilized because of the nature of the business, instead, choose a mid-priced solution that may not be the most sophisticated but will adequately address what the company requires.
Some examples of common software solutions are the following:
- Word Processing Tools
- Presentation Applications
- Anti-Malware Security Software
- Financial Accounting Software
- Sales & Marketing Software
- Human Resources Software
- Inventory Tools
- Customer Service / Client Portals
- Multimedia Applications
- File Sharing Software
- Project Management Software
Website and Email Hosting Providers
Every company, big or small, is expected to have a presence online through a website. The website is a piece of business tech that allows even a small business to have a storefront accessible anywhere in the world. Usually, website providers also provide email solutions as a package.
A poorly executed website that is slow and is always crashing can affect a company’s credibility. At the same time, fly-by-night email hosting providers or free solutions may prove to be prone to security threats or hacking. This is why it’s particularly important to appoint a reliable website and email hosting company that also provides 24/7 support.
Data Storage and Backup Systems
Data is one of the backbones of a company so it is important to prioritize the availability of secure and reliable data storage solutions. In recent years, innovations such as Cloud technology has paved the way for businesses to do away with costly physical storage. Now, it is possible to store gigabytes of data remotely at reasonable costs.
When storing data, businesses must check which Cloud providers offer end-to-end encryption and other security guarantees. It is also advisable not to rely on only one single provider, instead, choose a separate Cloud hosting company to store backup data. This way, the company’s data can still be recovered in case problems arise with one provider.
Phone and Fax Systems
While email and instant messaging are more prevalent when it comes to customer communications, phone and fax systems are still useful for many industries. Landlines and fax connections are often bundled with internet providers so this process is usually not complicated.
If employees require mobile phones, check with local phone companies regarding call & data packages that may be more cost-efficient for the business. Create a clear policy regarding the use of company phones when making personal calls or messages to avoid surprises when it’s time to pay the phone bills.
IT Support Services
Most small businesses only have one all-around IT person to solve every single tech issue in the workplace. This employee is often trained with day-to-day troubleshooting to ensure that IT equipment in the office is running smoothly. However, when a piece of office equipment breaks down, keep in mind that the company’s IT support staff may not be specialized in fixing the problem. While they may try to solve the issue, this often takes time and may even aggravate the problem.
To avoid this, it is recommended to check the support services linked to the IT products at the time of acquisition or at the start of the lease. This applies to software, hardware, office equipment, website, and email hosting, cloud companies, etc. For some products, it may be more cost-efficient to sign up for warranty programs or annual retainers that will ensure that the company’s IT investments are protected.
Ticking all the Boxes
Technology is always changing which means that small businesses always need to be flexible and adapt in order to remain relevant and competitive. Being smart on how to utilize and maximize new technologies can help progress growth without breaking the bank.
About the author
Nathan is a business advisor and business blogger at Biznas. He has helped many clients solve their business problems and now imparts his advisory knowledge onto others to help them improve their businesses too.
A Fundamental IT Checklist For Small Businesses