Whether you’ve just started up a new business, or you’re thinking of starting a new business in the future, it’s always worth considering your IT systems and how they are going to best support you and your business. We frequently see business’ that have started up and once they have grown, or the demand on their IT systems is greater, problems (sometimes business critical issues) start to appear. One of the key components to preventing this from happening to you is good forward planning and preparation.
In this article we are going to take a look at a few things to consider when starting a new business and building an IT infrastructure that will scale with you.
Desktops and Laptops
One extremely problematic option we see people taking is going and buying ‘cheap and cheerful’ machines from a retail store, understandably when people start out as they want to save a bit of cash. Normally these machines won’t have a very good spec and will be pre-loaded with loads of weird and wonderful software from the maker of the machine (known as bloatware). This is generally the case with most Desktop’s and Laptops. However, if you do go cheap and cheerful you may end up paying again in a years time (or even 6 months time) when the machine starts to grind to a halt and hinders productivity because it isn’t the right machine for the job. When buying machines you want to think about what you are using your machine for and a good list to follow is:
- What Software are you looking to run on your machine and what software you need access to consistently (the greater the amount of software running the better spec it will need to be)
- How much daily/weekly usage you are looking at
- How much data storage do you need (for example a HR company will have different requirements compared to a graphics design company)
- How many screens you want to use with the machine
- Accessibility (do you need the machine to support you in any additional ways)
- Is there a necessity for a higher quality screen (detailed pictures and video work often require this)
These are the questions that we ask people and assess any additional requirements when looking at purchasing new devices. We like to pitch ourselves as a non box-shifting company. What this means is we will talk to you about your needs and offer up a solution that will last 3-5 years and save you money in the longer run; as you don’t need to replace a machine after just 6 months of use. We will also remove all of the pre-loaded software, which is no doubt slowing down the machine already, and ensure that it is setup and ready to go by the time it lands (softly) on your desk.
Backup / Disaster Recovery
There are a few scary, but interesting, facts that get thrown around a lot when it comes to backing up systems.
- 93% of companies without Disaster Recovery who suffer a major data disaster are out of business within 1 year.
- 96% of companies with a trusted backup and Disaster Recovery plan were able to survive ransomware attacks.
- More than 50% of companies experienced a downtime event in the past 5 years that were longer than 1 working day.
While the above facts might be scary, doing something about it can be simple and cost effective to ensure business continuity. We push all customers to adhere to the 3-2-1 backup rule. 3 Copies of all your data, in at least 2 locations with 1 being an offsite location. Backup has evolved over the years and you no longer need to plug in an external hard drive or remember to change tapes to ensure backups run. For a smaller scale environment, a simple bit of software can sit on your desktop / laptop and continually backup all of your data so it is stored in an offsite location automatically for you. For a larger scale environment we work with a company called Datto. A small device will be connected to your network and will backup all of your vital data, that may be stored on a server, to both the backup box, for quicker smaller data restores, and also offsite as well for a disaster recovery situation. This device, when you’re facing a disaster recovery situation, can spin up a virtual machine in the cloud with your data that we can give you access to from anywhere within about 30 minutes, whilst we work on getting the main systems back online.
Security these days is so much more than having a bit of AntiVirus software running on your desktop or laptop. While we highly recommend having AntiVirus on every device there are also other options to consider such as:
- Email Filtering
- Firewalls to protect the network from external threats
- Wireless Network Security
- Web Security
- Mobile device management
It is usually best to talk with your IT company about what you are planning on doing in your day to day work so that they can work with you to ensure the proper security measures are put in place. As much as people hate them and the constant notifications, also keeping devices up to date with the latest Software and Security updates can be vital. Things get patched (applying an update or fix to software) and updated for a reason. Sometimes this may be to fix an issue and sometimes this may be to fix a vulnerability. If you go back to May 2017 when the NHS got hit with Ransomware. This was an exploit down to a vulnerability that Microsoft released a patch for, but many systems remained vulnerable due to the patch not being installed.
Software and Licensing
Unfortunately we see companies that have bought software that ended up not being fit for purpose. This can occur from a variety of reasons; being mis-sold the software; needing to purchase additional add-ons or software in order for the software to work; it won’t work on your machine; or purchasing it because it’s low cost. This can caused unnecessary costs and also further time and money implementing a software solution that does the job. Do your research about the different software out there and what works for you. Without sounding like a broken record, it is again worth speaking with your IT company to ensure you are going to get software that is right for you, and they can also help get it setup and deployed. Leaving you one less thing to worry about.
You also want to ensure that you are using legal software and licenses as well. Our stance is that we will report any company that we find not using legal software or licensing. Back in 2016 in the UK alone unlicensed software use cost small to medium sized businesses over £900,000 in legalization costs and damages alone.
We work on the principle that no two businesses are the same. Everyone has different usage needs when it comes to IT software and it is best to talk with someone about the software to ensure you have the right solution for you; that can scale as your business grows.
Website / Domains / Email
We see it all too often where people will have a domain name and a website, for example aff-it.co.uk, but they will then have a 3rd party email address, such as firstname.lastname@example.org, instead of making use of their domain name. These days it is simple and straight forward for an IT company to setup a professional email address for you and ensure that everything is up and running on the devices that you need it to be. We like to say that as long as we have access to your Domain Name, whether it is with us or another provider, we can have a professional email up and running for you within 15 minutes. Unfortunately, at this time, we don’t offer website design services, but we do know several local amazing companies that we are both happy to put you in touch with and who will be happy to help you out should you need a company website putting together.
Ongoing Support and Maintenance
So you have everything up and running and you’re ready to get going with your business, but who are you going to call if something goes wrong? Technology can be temperamental at times and it is best to have a company that you are able to contact should something go wrong and you need help. If you engage with an IT company they may also include maintenance as well which will cover things like ensuring systems are kept up to date and running health checks on machines to ensure they are running smoothly.
While there is a lot of information in this post, and some of it can seem quite daunting, we take an approach of getting to know you and your business to ensure that we can make recommendations and offer support that is tailored to you. None of our customers are the same and instead of trying to fit you into a Bronze, Silver or Gold package we will instead build a support package to meet your needs. If you’re thinking of starting a business and would like some help or advice then please don’t hesitate to get in touch via our contact page or by calling on 02380 000770.