As a business owner or executive, you cover a lot of bases at your company, staying abreast of all areas of your operation and making critical decisions about everything from your lease agreements to sales practices to hiring levels. But what about your IT assets and systems?
Let’s face it, the one time you ever really get involved is when your system goes down and you need immediate tech support. Even if you have an in-house IT manager, that person is usually not equipped to handle full network monitoring and maintenance, or help you plan ahead for business-smart IT investments; they’re too busy dealing with email problems or computers that won’t boot up.
So, with everything else on your corporate plate, how much do you really need to know about your business technology without going full tilt on being an IT expert? Here are five key areas to brush up on so you can make informed decisions about your corporate IT assets.
- Understand what affects your system’s ROI—and your company’s bottom line. Issues that impact your ROI negatively are security breaches that threaten your corporate data and aging hardware or software that can’t keep up with user demand and reduce productivity. A system (and a service provider) that delivers great ROI is one that minimizes downtime and maximizes performance and profitability so that investment pays off (in both hard and soft costs).
- Find out about the cybersecurity safeguards in place, and how up-to-date the security patches are on your system. It’s not just enterprises being hacked; small businesses are also targets, so you’ll want to know what’s protecting your data and keeping your network secure. Think of all that email and file sharing that goes on between your workers, vendors, clients, and partners, and the nightmare a data breach would create.
- Get a list of all IT assets (hardware and software), their ages, and when each item will fall out of its practical lifecycle. This will affect your budgeting (for warranty renewals or new equipment) and it affects your network security. Out-of-date equipment and older security patches are like open doors for hackers; one weak link in the security chain will let in viruses, malware, and cyber theft that wreak havoc with your system, users, and clients.
- Get an executive-level status report from your IT management team or IT partner that tells you where the risks and red flag issues are, and the necessary remediation steps to address these risks.
- Know your return to operation (RTO) time—how long before your system is back up completely and operational. What is your company’s tolerance for downtime? Can you be out of service for an hour or a day or longer?
This report should include your business continuity plan, with your failover protocols in the event of a system crash or internet disruption, as well as other measures. Outline what you will do, as a company executive, during this downtime, to maintain your operation as much as possible.
You’ll also need a written disaster recovery plan—the processes and procedures your company will undertake to recover and protect your IT infrastructure in the event of a disaster.
Taken together, these add up to your IT asset road map—a crucial planning and management tool every decision maker needs to ascertain whether their IT infrastructure is helping (and will continue to help) meet business goals. It maps out your current technology and options for future changes you’ll be making within the next year or so. You’ll understand what you have in place now, the pros and cons of options down the road, and the total cost of ownership (TCO) of those various options.
Do you need help assessing if your IT infrastructure is helping you meet your business goals? IND Corporation’s TotalCare managed IT services plan provides that IT asset road map and so much more, at a fixed, monthly price for small and medium-sized companies throughout New Jersey. Contact IND to see how we can help you fuel smart decisions about your business technology.