The Importance of Business IT Health Checks

Whether you’re thinking about expanding your IT operation or you simply want the system you have to run as efficiently as possible, regular IT Health Checks help ensure your business saves time and money, and can concentrate on growth and innovation.

Keeping up to date with the condition of your IT support, software and network enables you to:

  • Make smart decisions when it comes to technology
  • Use best practice to support your goals and
  • Optimise the IT budget to build out a comprehensive IT roadmap

Having shared his cyber security tips in a previous blog, our MD David Osen here gives us an IT Health Check Shortlist: a 7-Point Plan to help businesses prioritise their thinking and stay on track when it comes to the challenge of maintaining a healthy IT operation.

IT Health Check – The Big 7

1- Stay on top of technical needs

As obvious as it sounds, many businesses run expensive IT operations without ever truly meeting the tech needs of their employees or customers. Legacy systems, shortcuts and hacks, as well as a fear of change, are just some of the issues we see clients struggle with every day.

The reality is, the workarounds generally take more IT resources to manage, often leaving businesses dragging their heels technically and falling behind the competition.

Different departments, roles and responsibilities rely on different technology and devices to do their job well. The nine-to-five, one-size-fits-all doesn’t exist anymore. Employees expect to be equipped with the tools they need, or be allowed to bring their own device to work (BYOD).

That’s new ground for some employers, but it’s the kind of flexibility businesses need to embrace to keep pace.

The benefits of a technically-smart business are too long to list here, but by reviewing their hardware and software choices and investing in processes and tools that make the business run smoothly and allow employees to do their job better, a business can save time and money, and improve their customer experience.

How could a professional IT Health Check help?

An IT service provider can quickly assess the business’s unique needs, identify where improvements could create long-term benefits and help them take the customer offering to the next level.

2 - Enable remote workers

Office space at a decent address, nice desks, swivel chairs, desktops and those fancy little Nespresso pods are expensive, and in many cases, completely unnecessary.

Remote working won’t be appropriate for every employee, but businesses that can enable staff to work from home, abroad or on the road, really should.

Remote working opens a lot of doors to a business and according to global recruiter Monster Worldwide, it benefits employers as much (if not more) than employees.

From a resource perspective:

  • It increases the talent pool
  • Helps businesses to compete better for specific skill sets
  • Allows employers to recruit from anywhere in the country (or globe)
  • Closes timezone gaps for businesses that operate 24/7
  • Improves employee satisfaction
  • Reduces stress
  • Increases employee retention and
  • Improves productivity

Contrary to what some employers might think, remote workers experience less distraction, take fewer breaks, work longer hours and are more focused than their office-based counterparts.

And, if that lot doesn’t float your boat, massive savings on operational costs and overheads might do the trick.

How could an IT Health Check help?

Remote working is simply considered part and parcel of today’s work environment. An IT service provider can talk you through the host of smart technology solutions for better communication available and work with you to make the transition (or create a business readiness) that will allow you to embrace the trend and capitalise on the many business gains its proven to deliver.

3 - Review your software

Software is one of the fastest moving areas of the IT industry, presenting businesses with opportunities to simplify and improve the way they do pretty much everything.

Programmes have been developed around accounting, time management, project management, account management, meeting management, employee collaboration and everything in between.

And, when it’s not helping you do your job better, sophisticated malware can help secure your network, protect data and shield your business from all manner of debilitating viruses and cyber attacks.

Software is more competitively priced now too and free trials are the norm, so you can try before you buy and work out what feels right for you and your employees.

Software licensing is another area that’s worth revisiting regularly, as providers increasingly move away from fixed costs to subscription-based pricing that mean annual fees and paying extra for upgrades and patches – all of which would have been included before.

How could an IT Health Check help?

Better use of software and finding efficiencies in licensing costs are no brainers for any business. Time-consuming jobs and painful processes can be simplified (even enjoyed, if some reviews are to be believed) and bulk purchasing and volume licensing can often reduce business expenses.

Optimity is an authorised reseller, so we can sell software licenses on behalf of big players like Adobe, Cisco and Google. We’ve a wealth of knowledge on the subject too, and worked with clients nationwide to help them realise savings they never knew existed.

4 - Employ helpdesk support

It’s not possible (or necessary) for every business to have in-house IT support. Recruiting, rewarding and retaining full-time employees in IT is expensive and even if you pay top dollar, there’s no guarantee that:

  • You’ll provide a challenging enough environment to keep them interested and engaged, or
  • They’ll be able to resolve every IT issue that comes up

Technology moves fast and IT experts need to keep on top of trends and training to stay fresh. So, if you’re not prepared to support that kind of on-going career development, an outsourced service that offers helpdesk support and an expert response to any issue that arises, when it arises, might be a better investment.

There are different levels of service too, making it affordable and scalable for businesses of all sizes. Operational excellence is key for businesses that rely on technology to support employees, serve customers and challenge competitors. A serviced helpdesk will allow you to stay on top of all of this, smoothing out recurring issues that hamper daily productivity and letting you choose between:

  • Operating a ‘Break-Fix’ service that guarantees expert assistance the minute anything goes wrong, or
  • Developing a strategic partnership with an outsourced team that will drive business success with a tailored IT roadmap

How could an IT Health Check help?

Helpdesk support can be dialled up or down or trialled to see how it could work for you. An IT service provider can talk you through all available options, highlight typical problem areas that benefit most and explain the difference between remote support and on-site trouble shooters, for example.

5 - Be smart about your physical infrastructure

Think circuits, routers, servers, machine management – anything that enables your business to stay connected to the network, employees and customers.

Managing all the component parts, agreements, contracts, vendor relationships and everything in between, can be a complicated and time-consuming job. It’s also essential to operational efficiency and budget management, because left unchecked, it could cost the business dearly in terms of connectivity, performance and bottom line results.

How could an IT Health Check help?

This is an area where knowledge, expertise and supplier contacts really matter.

Getting the fundamentals right when it comes to your physical IT infrastructure is crucial, because it has a huge bearing on the quality of your network performance, time to market, service delivery, ability to compete, customer care, communication, customer experience – everything really.

By putting this is the hands of an expert, they can assess your infrastructure’s strength and allow you to make informed decisions about where you may need to adapt or make essential changes to secure your business from the foundations up.

6 - Tighten your security

2017 is fast on its way to becoming one of the worst years in history for global cyberattacks. Tech news channels are awash with ‘Wannacry’ horror stories and other aptly-named viruses that have brought everything from airlines to hospitals to a standstill. And the only thing that stands between your business and the next attack is better cyber security.

Hackers, viruses and online fraud generally are getting smarter, faster and more ambitious, making the need for robust security and regular updates a prerequisite for IT infrastructure.

Indeed, some of the worst attacks we’ve seen this year happened simply because patches weren’t run as they were made available (Tut Tut NHS), leaving the door wide open and presenting opportunistic hackers with entire networks on a silver platter.

Compliance of data protection regulations is a hot topic right now, with the GDPR Review (General Data Protection Regulation) - the most extensive revision of European privacy and data protection legislation ever - set to take effect from May 2018.

The GDPR isn’t limited to the EU either. In fact, the legal reach isn’t defined by geography at all, instead looking at how personal data of European residents is used. And, just in case you’re wondering, there’s no green card via Brexit, as the UK Government is fully supportive of the legislation.

How could an IT Health Check help?

IT security is big, but it doesn’t have to be scary. Managed well, it shouldn’t be an issue at all. An IT service provider can perform a full cyber security sweep, identify any weaknesses in your network or ways of working and make recommendations on how to protect your business and reduce the risk of network downtime as a result of a cyberattack.

7 - Review backup and disaster recovery planning

I advise every business to plan for disaster. It might sound a bit dramatic, but anything from a simple power outage to a sophisticated virus can bring a business to its knees and the longer you’re out, the more brand damage is incurred.

Having systems in place to ensure regular backup, appropriate storage, unlimited access to data and a robust disaster recovery plan – should the worst happen – are essential failsafe tools for all businesses and there are tech options to help end-to-end.

How could an IT Health Check help?

Testing your defences regularly to make sure back-up and disaster recovery plans are fit for purpose is a hygiene factor that’s often overlooked as day-to-day issues take precedence.

The saying: ‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ springs to mind here. This stuff won’t sort itself and businesses that put it on the longer finger tend to find out sooner or later that it’s too late to act once something goes wrong.

Businesses with good IT resources will be able to make lots of these checks and changes themselves, but where there’s any doubt, it’s always worth asking for an expert opinion.

Discover how outsourcing your IT can help meet all of your tech needs and bring the innovation required to see your business or agency grow.