Growing businesses will need to ensure that their technology not only supports their day-to-day operations, but also remains scalable and empowering as it continues to evolve. IT support is a catch-all term for actively managing, maintaining and developing your IT environment to work at its best. As businesses grow, their IT environments get more complex, things stop working as they should be, legacy systems start to emerge, as do security vulnerabilities. This results in a growing business gradually risking its efficiency, security and growth, which is why an effective and forward-looking approach to IT is crucial for creating and sustaining success.
IT support can be internally managed, externally outsourced, or a combination of both of these approaches. In this piece, we will give you 10 best practices for your IT support that will help your business to get the best out of its IT as it continues to grow.
Establish a Robust and High-Performance IT Infrastructure
The foundation of effective IT support and operations, is a robust and high-performing infrastructure. Invest in the right hardware, software, and network components to support your business operations both currently, and in anticipation of future demands. Scalability should be a core consideration, ensuring that your IT environment can grow seamlessly as your business expands. Cloud solutions in particular can play an empowering role, enabling you to outsource hosting of your data and systems to a specialist provider that can scale with your business’s needs in real time. It is also important to regularly assess your network infrastructure’s performance and upgrade or expand it as needed to avoid bottlenecks forming.
Deploy Monitoring and Maintenance Tools
Don’t wait for IT issues to disrupt your operations. Implement proactive monitoring and regular maintenance schedules. This involves continuously tracking the health of your IT systems, identifying potential problems before they cause downtime, and performing routine updates and patches. Monitoring tools can alert your IT support team to issues like server outages, low disk space, or security vulnerabilities in real-time, allowing for swifter resolutions without disruptions.
Create or Outsource an IT Helpdesk Solution
As your business grows, it will increasingly need a dedicated port of call for all-things IT, enabling your team to report issues and get effective assistance. Aside from getting the right people and expertise onboard, there are helpdesk platforms that enable streamlined issue tracking and resolution so that IT support requests can be captured and addressed effectively. The helpdesk can perform a range of functions, including minimizing downtimes and frustrations, employee onboarding (e.g user setup), creating IT policies and guides, and much more.
Establish a Data Backup and Disaster Recovery Solution
As your business grows, a data backup and disaster recovery solution will become a must for assuring business continuity. A hardware malfunction or cyber-attack can lead to the loss of critical data, which can cost a fortune in time, energy and money to address. For this reason, factoring in regular data backup and disaster recovery solutions into your IT support is crucial.
Implement regular, automated backups of your data across your IT environment into secure locations, both on and off site. Take care to ensure that data recovery processes are well-documented and regularly tested to ensure that they work reliably and quickly to restore your data and systems, should they ever be needed.
As your business grows, so does its attractiveness to cybercriminals who use a range of tools to test business networks for vulnerabilities, whether it’s an entry point into a network, or attempting to manipulate a user via phishing tactics. Train your employees in cybersecurity best practices, including how to recognize phishing attempts and the importance of strong password management. Data encryption and multi-factor authentication (MFA) should also be implemented to protect sensitive information.
A full cyber security solution will be unique to each business, but commonly involves implementing a robust network firewall, intrusion detection and prevention systems, as well as endpoint protection for all devices (the endpoints) that access your network, and more.
Regular Software Updates and Patch Management
Software vendors frequently release updates and patches to address security vulnerabilities and improve the performance of their products. As your business grows, the number of vendors and products that you use will also increase, so it’s important to stay on top of them to enhance security and performance. Establish a patch management process to ensure that all software are regularly updated, including operating systems, applications, and third-party plugins. You can use automated patch deployment tools to simplify patch management and ensure that no critical updates are missed.
Scalable IT Solutions
As your business scales, its IT will need to be able to keep up with the pace and empower your efforts. Today, cloud-solutions are amongst the best sources for scalable IT solutions, whether its cloud-hosting for your applications and data, or cloud workplace platforms such as Microsoft 365. Both have in common that new capacity, including data storage or users, can be added at the click of a button. Cloud solutions can scale flexibly up or down with your business, making for a cost-effective, more precise and alterable solution with lower fixed costs.
Employee Training and IT Policies
Your IT environment and strategy is only as strong as your employees’ understanding and compliance with IT policies. This should naturally include the solutions that are used for day-to-day productivity, but crucially, this should also include cyber security best practices. Creating an IT policy and strategy and engraining it into your people, processes and technology, will help your business to operate smoothly and congruently, while lowering cyber risks.
9. IT Documentation and Knowledge Management
As your business evolves, its complexity will increase, which can be harder to manage without quality documentation. This will be indispensable for IT support, whether it’s addressing a complex hardware problem, managing users, or configuring on-premise servers, and so on. Documentation is also an opportunity for efficiency, with standard operating procedures and step by step guides, IT processes and challenges can be navigated with more speed and ease.
Maintain comprehensive records of your IT infrastructure, configurations, network layouts, and software licenses. Document standard operating procedures (SOPs) and troubleshooting guides to facilitate quick issue resolution and ensure consistency in IT operations. Centralized knowledge repositories or wikis can help your IT support team access critical information and share expertise efficiently. Well-maintained documentation not only supports your existing IT processes but also simplifies the onboarding of new IT staff and promotes continuity in IT support, as your business grows and evolves.
Ensure Data Protection and Compliance
Data privacy and compliance will evolve with your business as it grows and will also depend on the nature of the business and the data it handles. As your business grows, it may process new kinds of data, be expected to implement more robust and comprehensive measures, and increasingly come under the scrutiny of regulators. Therefore, having a data protection and compliance strategy with processes to assure and review compliance, will go a long way.
Data protection measures to practice include implementing access controls on a ‘need to know’ basis, encrypting all sensitive information, and having contact points and mechanisms in place for backing up, reviewing and modifying data, such as appointing a Data Protection Officer. Additionally, ensure that your IT support team is well-versed in data privacy laws applicable to your business. Implement data protection measures, such as encryption, access controls, and data anonymization, to comply with these regulations. Regular audits and assessments will help to identify areas of improvement and ensure ongoing compliance.
In conclusion, effective IT support is a critical component of success for growing businesses. It enables your operations to run smoothly, your data to remain secure, and your technology to scale effortlessly. Often it can be expensive, time consuming and complex, to build a full in-house IT support capability, which is where an outsourced managed IT solution can add significant value, while remaining cost effective.
By following these IT support best practices, you can build a robust IT environment that supports your growth and ensures your business remains competitive and secure in today’s digital landscape. Technology is also evolving continuously, so keeping a keen eye out for new solutions that can help with these best practices will also be essential. Overall, with a holistic, integrated and streamlined IT support strategy, your technology can not only sustain your growth and success, but also continue to actively contribute to it.
Zia: Albuquerque’s Leading IT Support Provider
Zia Networks are a trusted IT support provider operating in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico. We’re passionate IT specialists bringing together deep multi-disciplinary expertise that focuses on helping businesses like yours to achieve profitable growth, smooth operations, and industry-grade cyber security. We’re proud to serve businesses across New Mexico, offering truly personalized and tailored services, with the mature capabilities of a technology partner. Need a hand with a technology challenge? Get in touch with us today and we will be glad to help you to overcome it.