How Should Your Business Prioritize Their IT Strategy Right Now?
IT Maturity And Building From The Inside Out
These past couple of months have been quite a ride as we’ve had to respond to the implications of the COVID-19 public health crisis.
2020 has been a crazy year with widespread changes to the workforce. COVID-19 has pushed many positions to work from home, and companies have had to adapt their IT practices. Many businesses are left wondering what to do next, and how to improve the work from home situation.
IT must be included in your future business plans. As this year has shown, a strong IT foundation can mean easier transitions to new situations.
Technology forms the basis for of many companies. From restaurant Point-Of-Sale systems to file shares and server applications, most businesses rely on some form of technology. This year, many businesses had to scramble to get remote workers setup and found a lot of shortcomings in their IT strategy and possibly created new vulnerabilities. However, some businesses had a very different experience, and easily transitioned thanks to their IT team and partners. That’s why it’s important to have what some call IT maturity.
Transitioning To A Remote Workforce: A Smooth Ride Or An Uphill Struggle
IT maturity may be a new term you’ve never seen used. What it refers to is simply what IT can do for a business, its capability.
For example, in the recent transition to remote work, a business with mature IT already had the systems in place to make the move easy and smooth for everyone. This means less or no downtime for the business, less loss of productivity, and less confusion.
As an IT company that strives to provide the best service we can to our clients, our goal is to help your business develop a mature IT system that provides your employees and customers with the best possible experience. We work to improve your IT environment, and use roadmaps and strategies to guide your business into the future.
Two Main Priorities When Going Remote
Optimize Your Remote Workforce
At the moment, social distancing is preventing many businesses from bringing employees back into the office. Some have found benefits from having a remote workforce such as needed less physical space, while others have suffered from the lack of easy collaboration with other employees and social interactions.
So how do we make the most out of remote work? The first step is to ensure employees have what they need to continue to do their work. A computer (preferably company provided and managed) and the software and setup to connect back to HQ.
A sample setup would be a provided laptop setup with a Microsoft 365 Business Premium subscription connected to the domain through Azure Active Directory, a VPN connection to connect to local resources if required, and any line of business applications they need. Not only can you provide the same workstation experience as if they were in the office as long as they have an internet connection, but if setup properly beforehand the transition would be seamless.
Teams is used for quick communication between employees and teams (get it?), SharePoint is the central information hub, and OneDrive is the cloud based file storage for employee documents. Behind the scenes, Intune and other solutions are used to manage company data and enforce policies. With the proper IT systems in place, remote work doesn’t have to mean less productivity.
Be More Resilient To Crisis
Whether we’re talking about cyber risks or the need for a business continuity plan, a lot of businesses and executives have inadvertently made decisions in the past based on a false sense of security.
“It won’t happen to us” is often used. Small and medium businesses believe they won’t be affected because of their size, and large businesses often feel they have more than enough IT in place so nothing will happen. The reality is quite the opposite.
In truth, it’s only a matter of time. Small businesses tend to have less security and training in place, and large businesses have a much larger attack surface and more to lose. No matter the size, every business needs a mature IT system to lower business risks and rebound from a crisis.
A Strong IT Foundation
Your IT infrastructure is most likely the foundation for your business. It’s what’s on the inside, behind the scenes, and plays a huge role in determining the functionality of what’s on the outside, the users of the technology.
The companies that transitioned the easiest from in-house to remote work either already had much or all of their infrastructure in the cloud, or had a robust remote access solution to onsite services. In essence, their IT infrastructure could be access from anywhere. They were ready for a potential switch.
Cloud based infrastructure is a big reason why many companies were able to transition quickly without halting business. The added benefit of the cloud is scalability, making it easier to handle hybrid work scenarios.
Where Are Companies Focusing Their IT Efforts Now
1. Applications That Don’t Tie You Down
Your business applications have to have the same mobility as your workforce.
For apps that run on the web, that’s no problem. But for installed software that has to talk to a server on your office network, that may be a different story. If you have to work from home, that server is out of reach. That is, unless you have a VPN or switch the apps to run on a server in the cloud.
2. Manage Data And Keep It Visible
When your data has to follow employees out of the office, data protection becomes a serious concern. Data could get accidentally leaked or lost. People are quick to find solutions to inconveniences, so if saving files to a remote server is slow, they may save them to a flash drive instead.
All this can be avoided if your infrastructure is designed to accommodate the need of employees and you enforce policies on data management.
3. Provide Company Managed Devices
Letting employees use personal computers for work is a stop-gap solution with a number of potential issues. Understandably, this was the only option for a lot of businesses when social distancing came around; but it shouldn’t be maintained.
For management and security, IT needs to be able to manage the devices that connect to your business network. That’s why it’s important your business invests in the equipment that is essential for employees to work from home.
Security isn’t a single item that protects your business. It’s a lot of things that layer together to reduce the risks to your business and its data as much as possible. This is why it must be considered in every level of IT infrastructure, from devices to employees.
Draw an imaginary connection between your employee and your server or wherever your data resides. That’s what has to be secured, and your data must be protected from everything it touches that is not part of your business. To not secure this connection means opening your data and thus your business to unacceptable amounts of risk.
5. Remote Productivity
Hopefully, up until now you’ve gained some idea of how a business can help facilitate productivity in their remote workforce. The biggest factor is to provide employees with the IT infrastructure they need to continue being productive. Once the foundation is there, it’s up to the employee.
There is software that can monitor employee activity, but in most cases we don’t feel that these solutions are a good idea. Babysitting employees isn’t going to create a healthy work culture and can backfire on productivity.
The best remote work productivity indicators are the same ones that were used in the office. Often performance metrics, or assigned tasks with due dates can help keep things on track.
Reinforce Your Business From The Inside Out
If your experience transitioning to a remote workforce was rough and you don’t want to be upended again, think about how your technology could be used on the inside to make the outside experience better. Improving from the inside out can help your business build resilience to crises and ultimately may save your business one day.
If you would like to know what No B.S. Computer Repair, LLC can do to improve your business resilience, contact us.