I've been working in IT managed services for over a decade, and let me tell you, small businesses have some unique IT challenges! I've been lucky enough to work in both New Zealand and the UK, so I've got a pretty good idea of what small-medium businesses need to focus on when it comes to their IT.
Here are my top 10 IT priorities for small businesses:
1. Data security - small businesses are often targets for cybercriminals because they don't have the resources to invest in heavy-duty security measures. It's crucial for small businesses to invest in firewalls, antivirus software, MFA and data encryption to protect their sensitive information from breaches and cyber attacks.
2. Cloud computing - solutions like Microsoft 365, G Suite, and AWS give small businesses access to enterprise-grade technology at a fraction of the cost of traditional on-premises solutions. This means small businesses can scale their IT infrastructure as they grow, without spending a ton of money.
3. Business Continuity - unexpected events like natural disasters, power outages, and cyber attacks can really hurt small businesses. Business continuity solutions like backup and disaster recovery can help minimize the impact of these events on small businesses' operations.
4. Mobile device management - with more and more people using mobile devices in the workplace, small businesses need to implement mobile device management solutions to secure and manage their mobile devices. This includes solutions like Airwatch and Intune.
5. Cybersecurity awareness training - it's important for small businesses to educate their employees on cybersecurity best practices to reduce the risk of cyber attacks and data breaches. Cybersecurity awareness training can be delivered through online training programs, workshops, and in-person training sessions.
6. Network infrastructure - small businesses should invest in a robust network infrastructure to ensure their data and apps are accessible and available to their employees and customers. This includes solutions like network switches, firewalls, and wireless access points.
7. Compliance - small businesses have to comply with a variety of regulations and standards, like GDPR and HIPAA. It's important for small businesses to understand the regulations that apply to their industry and invest in solutions that can help them meet these requirements.
8. Monitoring and maintenance: Regular monitoring and maintenance of IT systems and infrastructure is crucial for small businesses to ensure that they are running smoothly and efficiently. This includes monitoring systems such as servers, network devices, and applications, as well as performing regular maintenance tasks such as software updates, backups, and security scans across all devices. This can help small businesses to identify and resolve issues quickly and prevent downtime, which can have a significant impact on their operations and revenue.
9. Virtual collaboration tools - with more and more people working remotely, small businesses need to invest in virtual collaboration tools to enable their employees to work together effectively, no matter where they are. Solutions like Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Teams can help small businesses stay connected and productive.
10. IT budget planning and cost management - Small businesses often have limited resources, so it's important for them to plan their IT budget and manage their costs effectively. This includes developing a comprehensive IT budget that takes into account the business's objectives and priorities, as well as regular monitoring and reporting of actual IT expenses against budgeted amounts to identify any variances and make adjustments as necessary. Additionally, small businesses should also consider cost-saving measures such as outsourcing IT services, and implementing automation to improve efficiency and reduce costs.
In conclusion, small businesses have unique IT needs, and it's important for them to prioritize their IT investments to make sure they're getting the most out of their resources. By focusing on these top 10 IT priorities, small businesses can improve their operations, reduce risk, and save money!