7 point check: Planning Xmas and New Year IT housekeeping and review activities
A great time for an annual systems review and catch-up on admin…
Early December… and businesses everywhere are geared up to get the jobs and projects scheduled for delivery this side of the festive season out of the door on time. This year, for many smaller, expanding and mid-sized businesses, the working days between Christmas and the New Year celebrations of Wednesday 28, Thursday 29 and Friday 30 are likely to be relatively light in terms of workload.
Often firms are manned by a skeleton crew, usually composed of employees that don’t want to burn up annual leave (or those that don’t have any left to burn!), providing the appearance of business as usual. Some, especially core business workers, may have ongoing project and customer oriented tasks to fulfil. However, for staff that support non-core activities such as IT, it’s an ideal time to do housekeeping and conduct a review of systems.
IT admin and housekeeping often falls by the wayside as solo IT managers and small IT teams prioritise their workload. Frequently urgent issues need to be attended to first and lower priority activities have to move aside. Here are 7 items for IT to consider directly reviewing or catching up on over the Christmas and New Year.
1. IT support
Are your support arrangements adequate? Do you have adequate back up and contingency for internal IT staff absences, peak workload and for when the expertise you require is not within the team’s skill set? Consider locating an appropriate external IT support service provider that can help. Obtaining reliable back up for IT staff absences, resource to assist with workload overflow situations, and the wider expertise that is sometimes required, helps to reduce stress and improve productivity.
2. IT auditing
How up-to-date are your hardware and software asset registers or databases? Hardware databases make administration a whole lot easier, and tie up nicely with wider issues such as insurance and migration or upgrades. Software audits are invaluable for providing a 360 degree view of the software licensing arrangements. They help to identify users that have software they don’t need and allow more efficient distribution to those that do need specific applications or functionality.
3. Server infrastructure
Despite the continuing growth of the cloud services market, and the increasing range of online business solutions, some firms retain on-premise server infrastructure. For companies that need to retain this approach to provisioning applications to the business, it is well worth thinking about how the latest advances in virtualisation and hyperconvergence might better provide for your server-side infrastructure needs. Fully integrated and optimised hardware and single screen management consoles, such as those from Scale Computing, offer significant advantages over conventional server hardware.
4. Desktop productivity
If you haven’t already done it, think about getting started with your strategy for desktop productivity. Google Apps and Open Office are potential solutions. However, the majority of businesses are opting for productivity in the cloud with Microsoft Office 365. Office 365 is the world’s most widely used desktop productivity suite and Microsoft’s fastest ever growth product. The reason? It just works! Eliminating Microsoft Exchange, the sever application that sits behind Outlook, is one of the best things an IT department with limited resources and skills can do to simplify admin and relieve stress.
For those with on-premise servers, backup is often an evergreen problem, especially if you are still using legacy tape technologies. For those using low value online storage ‘bucket shops’, it’s worth considering how well backup and restore processes perform. Both tape and low value online solutions might seem adequate for recovering lost files, however, they are often less than satisfactory when it comes to restoring significant volumes of data like a crashed drive, a server or an entire storage array. Consider the benefit of higher value online backup technologies like Datto. When it’s a disaster recovery situation, you need a solution you can trust.
6. PBX and integrated telephony
Many companies are using on-premise hardware PBXs with ISDN lines; however, these are essentially a legacy now as BT has set the date for discontinuing ISDN. The latest cloud PBX solutions provide unparalleled functionality and features for businesses of all sizes. Conferencing and Unified Communications capabilities, call / contact centre functions and analytics, and Office 365 integration mean the most fully featured cloud PBX services offer outstanding efficiency. With no CAPEX required for a hardware PBX, and complete mobile integration, virtual PBX services like those from Benemen, offer significant cost reductions over conventional telephony.
7. Internet connectivity
Cloud services such as Office 365, online backup and virtual PBX all concentrate demand on the internet connectivity of your business. There’s a few aspects to consider when reviewing your ISP and evaluating the options:
- Capacity – Does the current connection provide enough bandwidth or is it a bottleneck?
- Redundancy – Is there adequate backup connectivity in the shape of an alternative line?
- Contracts – Avoid signing long contracts that prevent you from shopping around
Help to review your IT systems from Paralogic
For help and advice on housekeeping and review of any of your systems, simply get in touch today. Simply fill in the form or call us on 01844 293 330 to see how we can help you to get better value and performance from technology in 2017.
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