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12 IT Questions Every Business Owner Should Ask Themselves Before the End of the Year
This rollecoaster of a year is finally winding down. Or perhaps it’s at all-time high for you in the holiday season – cheers! In either case, now is the good time to take a look back at the year behind us and to contemplate how your IT measured up. The best place to start is by answering the twelve questions below—they will help you zoom in on the main gaps in your technology infrastructure and map out the optimal course ahead into the new year and the new decade.
1.Do I know how much I spent on IT and IT-related expenses?
Whether you manage your IT internally or working with a provider, cost predictability in IT often a pain point for organizations. A server that suddenly blew up or a malicious cyber attack can cripple even the most carefully planned budgets and stall work for days and even weeks. Now is the perfect time to calculate your IT budget variance and determine its root causes.
2.Have I had any unexpected IT bills that affected my budget?
The working environment has shifted dramatically in 2020, which in many instances has lead to unplanned it expenses. Did you have to buy laptops to enable your employees to work form home, or increase your server capacity? Any of that could have lead to a sticker shock from equipment suppliers of your IT infrastructure providers. You certainly don’t want IT budget to spike uncontrollably any longer; one way to address it is engaging with a flat-rate, turn-key managed service provider to avoid any surprise bills in the future.
3. What does my IT stack look like and does everything work as expected and is easy to manage?
As a business leader, you may be more or less involved in your IT. However, it would benefit you and your ability to strategize to know the full make up of the technology stack that helps your business function. Ask your IT team or vendor for an IT architecture diagram. Bonus points if they can highlight areas that require attention, from upgrades to vulnerabilities.
4. How did I handle work during quarantine? What about my team? How can I set my team up for success in the “new normal”?
When quarantine dawned on us back in March, most of us had to adjust on the fly. Now that the dust has more or less settled, you can look back and evaluate the challenges, successes, and progress your company has made with telecommuting. How are the individual and team spirits? What about employee churn? Has productivity trended up or down over the past eight plus months? Does your team has everything they need to perform their work and stay engaged? If not, what can you do better in the new landscape?
5. Are we proactively tracking and managing our customer relationships?
This is an important one, after all, your customers and clients are your lifeline. The way people buy and engage with businesses has evolved this year, with personalized connection and attention becoming more important then ever. Are you staying attuned to what is going on in your customers’ lives? Leveraging technology can help you supercharge your customer experience, and many of your competitors are already taking note.
6. Are my IT needs properly and efficiently staffed?
Before the pandemic, you might have had an entire IT department or at least a dedicated IT admin. Now that your staff works remotely and from different time zones, you may want to reassess your IT support needs. If what you are looking for is 24/7, 365 days a year expert support, it may be more cost-efficient to outsource your IT.
7. How many cyberattacks have hit my business and how much damage did they cause?
This year, hackers didn’t sit on all the turbulence the pandemic brought about — the number of insurance claims for security and cyber threats have risen 27% in the first nine months of 2020, with some deeming the surge as “cyber pandemic.” Has your business faced a ransomware or a phishing attack? And if so, were you able to recover as quickly as you would hope and to mitigate the damage?
8. Do I have the right security protocols in place for email, data storage and sharing to prevent cyber threats? Is all my staff trained and aware of how to behave safely online?
The majority of cyber attacks succeed because of the human error. Then main job of any organization, then, is to train their employees on the basics (and often more than basics) of cybersecurity and to tighten security protocols (for example, implementing a Zero Trust framework) to assist employees in making secure decisions. At minimum, your company email should be air-tight and your staff should know not to click on suspicious links or connect to public networks. Some of the best anti-virus solutions like Managed Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) are not available off the store shelves but can be accessed affordable through managed service providers.
9. Is my data being backed up securely and can I be confident about accessing my backups when I need them?
Reliable backups are an essential component of your data security. Even if you have backups in place, how much do you really know about them and, most importantly, have you tried restoring your data from those backups before danger strikes? If not, it may be a timely exercise to determine if you are getting the insurance you need from your current IT provider.
10. Are the information and data silos in my organization that don’t allow us to make the most of the data available to us?
Data is king is today’s business world. At the same time, most organizations still don’t leverage the data that is available to them to their advantage, and may not even know what knowledge and data exist across the organization. As you are planning for the future, think about the information flow exchange between your company’s departments. Does it exist? Is the data that is coming through accessible company-wide and do you use it to inform you business decisions? If the answers are murky, it may be time to optimize.
11. Which other business process inefficiencies can I address in the next year?
What could we have done better in the past twelve months and what can we learn from it are the two main questions any business leader should consider today. If your documents are still largely paper-based, it may be time to invest in a document management system. If your communication with vendors and customers has suffered, it may be time to incorporate a customer relationship system. If you had to reinvest your supply chain at the pandemic onset, or your customers suddenly demand online services, it may be time to build an app. If you had a bumpy ride with your staff, you may need a virtual office solution. All this may sound overwhelming but a long road starts with a single step, such as honestly answering the above question.
12. How much time, energy, and money could I save by outsourcing all my IT need to a managed service provider and how would that compare to doing things the old way?
If you’re getting overwhelmed after going through this list, don’t fret. As a business leader, IT is not your job—running your business is. If you want your IT to simply work without concerning yourself with the details, or need experts to design, set up and run your IT infrastructure without hiring full-time specialists who could strain your budget, consider a managed service provider (MSP.) 3nom is the to-rated MSP in New York, New Jersey, and Florida, with expertise and hands-on attitude to tackle your company’s IT and set you up for success. Now that you are well-prepared for the technology conversation after having answered the above questions, give us a call for a free consultation. Let’s get your tech up to your standards!