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Enterprise Solutions

IT Management Challenges During COVID-19

May 20th, 2020 Posted by Best Practices, Cloud, Communication, Hosted Services, Managed Service Provider, Services 0 thoughts on “IT Management Challenges During COVID-19”

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting every aspect of business. The increase in remote working has created new challenges for IT departments that are stretching the limits of their knowledge and capabilities. An increase in telecommuting changes the demand on network infrastructure, causing a surge in user support tickets and requests, and new security threat management obstacles.

How are businesses managing these new challenges and the associated expenses? Here is a deeper look at three common challenges IT teams are facing due to the rise in the remote working:

Connectivity outside the office

Ensuring a stable connection between the end-users and the network, data, and/or apps, is becoming significantly more challenging. Now that organizations are outside the office and potentially across the country, there are simply more layers to manage and more points of failure to cover. In many cases, IT departments have been scrambling to maintain a reliable and secure network infrastructure to handle the increased load and new demands. They are not properly staffed in house to effectively manage these needs, and there’s no reason they would be.

Providing end-user support

COVID-19 has forced many organizations to rapidly deploy new tools to help collaborate and communicate throughout their organization, with their customers and partners. With the unfamiliarity and lack of experience with these new tools and capabilities, end-users are being left frustrated and inevitability on the phone with the service desk. This rise in user support requests has internal IT departments spread extremely thin; especially true for IT organizations who share responsibilities between teams… Remember, we still have the expanded infrastructure needs to manage. This problem isn’t getting any easier.


Managing the additional security risks of COVID-19 

Now that data is no longer kept within business walls, it poses additional risk of data leakage and loss. Further, employees’ minds are on the COVID-19 outbreak, so the new collaboration software IT just force fed to them isn’t top of mind.  In fact, there have been so many changes they have had to make in their daily routine, changes in their business environments may take a back seat. Let’s face it, our guards are down and we’re susceptible to attacks, at the time when security should be of the upmost priority. Many IT organizations are currently dealing with an increase in security incidents as their users are falling victim to the increased phishing and malware threats. So, now we have an already strained IT department who is left holding the bag to deal with the increased infrastructure, user support, AND security needs? How do we do this? There must be a more effective way.

Hiring internally to fill these dynamic gaps is impractical and expensive. It is also difficult to maintain a balance between the skills and resources needed to deliver these services in house. On the other hand, businesses need to ensure that they have all the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to provide adequate and safe infrastructure for their operations to continue.

The businesses that will come out ahead and be in a position to grow and thrive post COVID-19, are those who are partnering with an MSP to offload infrastructure, user support and security operations and management. This frees up their internal IT team and IT leadership to keep an eye on their business’ visions and values, aligning technical capabilities to achieve business goals.

Businesses look to MSPs to solve capacity and skill set challenges, and to supplement parts of their IT operations to support today’s unique needs. This allows their IT team the opportunity to elevate their contribution and impact by focusing on projects that enable their business to thrive. MSPs also provide the foundation that allows any sized business to capture and support the full power of technology, ensure business continuity, help to strengthen alignment with the business, and create an exceptional end user experience.

Is VoIP what your business needs?

April 3rd, 2020 Posted by Best Practices, Cloud, Communication, Hosted Services, Managed Service Provider, Phone, Services, VoIP 0 thoughts on “Is VoIP what your business needs?”

VoIP is a hot topic among small business owners who have struggled with difficult, cumbersome landline systems. Which is probably why nearly 40% of small businesses have switched from traditional landlines to voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) phone systems. In this blog post we’ll cover the advantages of VoIP so you can decide if it’s the missing link in your business technology toolkit.

VoIP empowers businesses.

Not so long ago, you could count on paying a small fortune for phone features like conferencing and an automated attendant. Now you can get those features plus newer ones, like instant messaging, mobility, and file sharing, at a fraction of the costs associated with landline phone systems. VoIP also brings a remarkable level of flexibility. One receptionist can handle incoming calls for offices located all over the country (without any inconvenience to your customers). Employees can route their office phones to any outside phone, which makes work travel and remote working smoother and more convenient for everyone.

Conduct business from anywhere in the world.

VoIP lets you be anywhere, anytime for the same cost. You and your staff can make or take calls at home, from coffee shops, at trade shows or in airport lounges – anywhere with an Internet connection or wireless signal. Your laptop or cell phone can function just like your desk phone, and your clients will never know the difference.

Save time and streamline office processes.

Have you ever received a voicemail that wasn’t meant for you and had to go through the whole process of getting it to where it belongs? What if you could just forward an email with the voicemail inside to the right person, straight from your inbox to theirs? This is just one of the many ways that VoIP can help streamline your office processes, saving your staff time and your business money.

And that’s not all. Hosted VoIP applications have built-in mobility and collaboration tools to enhance productivity and communication, such as instant messaging, personal phone books, and the ability to forward your phone calls to any outside phone automatically.

VoIP scales and grows with your business.

If you’re like many business owners, you’re likely making plans to grow your business. If you depend on cell service or traditional landlines, it could cause some major operational issues as your business grows and your needs change.  Luckily, there’s a phone system that can keep pace with your business expansion, without costing you a small fortune. A Hosted VoIP phone system supports the periodic growth that many businesses face without a large up-front investment. There’s no huge capital expense for new phone hardware and no worries about moving servers from the old office to the new. Simply extend Hosted VoIP service to your employees as you hire them. You can add or remove users as you need to; which is great for seasonal businesses (like accountants) too.

Even if your business is small in size today, you face many of the same challenges that larger enterprise businesses face, just without the extra resources. Hosted VoIP helps to level the playing field in your favor. With Hosted VoIP, you can establish a big-business presence anywhere in the world and work more efficiently to make the most of the resources you have while also laying the technical foundation to grow and transform your business when you’re ready.

3 Advantages of Hosted Email for SMBs

March 17th, 2020 Posted by Best Practices, Cloud, Communication, Hosted Services, Managed Service Provider, Services 0 thoughts on “3 Advantages of Hosted Email for SMBs”

Email has become business-critical for most SMBs. Without it, operations can grind to a halt, employees can sit idle, and sales/support can be negatively impacted. You want your email to have minimal down time, suit your business needs and goals, and support your business growth. But managing and maintaining your own email server can be challenging at best and disastrous at worst. So, how do you get the functionality you need without the headache? Hosted email. In this blog post we’ll discuss 3 advantages of hosted email for your SMB.

 

What is Hosted Email?

Email hosting as a service is a great way for businesses to save money, tailor your email to your needs, and save time on maintenance. Your email server is hosted off-site in a secure data center and is managed and maintained by our certified engineers. One of the best parts of a hosted email solution is that it’s crafted to your business’s specific needs, rather than it being a “one-size-fits-all” solution. This means that you’ll have to spend less time on work-arounds and general frustration, because it has been customized for you.

 

3 Benefits of Hosted Email

There are significant advantages to outsourcing your email to an MSP. Here are three of the biggest benefits of hosted email:

Less time spent on maintenance and management: You can focus your time and resources on aspects of your business that only you or your staff can do. Since the responsibility of managing and maintaining the email server is handled by an external party, you’re free to work on your business instead of your email servers.

Flexibility and scalability: Whether you’re planning to grow in the future or dealing with growing pains now, it will save you time and money to ensure that your email solutions can grow with your business. Hosted email is scalable to suit the specific needs of your business; adding or removing users and features as you need them is convenient and cost effective.

Security and redundancy: Your company email is a vital part of your business, which is why hackers try to take advantage of it so often through spam campaigns and phishing emails. These tactics are alarmingly effective when you don’t take steps to actively mitigate them. Having your email hosted in a secure data center reduces the likelihood of hacking attacks, and we can add a spam blocking solution to help avoid those threats as well.

Think Network Technologies can help your business take advantage of all the benefits hosted email has to offer. To learn more about hosted email solutions, contact us today.

Your Business Needs These 3 Types of IT Resources

April 10th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, collaboration, Devices, Hosted Services, Managed Service Provider, Services, Staff 0 thoughts on “Your Business Needs These 3 Types of IT Resources”

As technology becomes more essential, more versatile, and more complex, it also becomes increasingly difficult to manage. This can be especially true for SMBs as they balance the need to grow and stay competitive with limited budgets and less IT expertise. Luckily, there’s more than one way to look at IT, and how you approach it makes all the difference.

 

The Challenges

As the demands of your business reach the limit of your IT department’s ability to keep up, you may find yourself experiencing some of the following growing pains:

  • IT is spending most of their time putting out fires, which means recurring problems are becoming more common.
  • Deployment of software, apps, and initiatives is getting more complex, and you’re seeing more delays, failures, and down time.
  • Keeping up with break/fix work is keeping your IT staff from focusing on developing strategies and solutions that will benefit the business long term.
  • System down time is becoming more frequent, and it’s resulting in a loss of productivity and profit.

 

The Right Team with the Right Resources

As the role of IT expands, it’s important that you have the right team in place with the right expertise. It’s not just about having more staff; it’s about having access to expertise in cyber security, cloud migration, data mining, collaboration, etc. But, while you need access to these types of expertise and support, it doesn’t make sense for most SMBs to have these high-level experts on staff full time. Which is why many businesses are excited to discover the benefits of Managed Services.

To get the most out of your IT, both internal and through outsourced partnerships, make sure to have these three types of resources covered:

Generalists

These are your “go to” people. They’ve got the basic knowledge necessary to solve most of the day-to-day issues that your employees will encounter quickly and reliably, and they have the people-savvy necessary to provide high-quality service. This is a point of pride at Think. Our Support Desk staff is carefully selected, highly trained, and respond to most service tickets in an hour or less.

 

Specialists

With the rapid advancements in tech, IT departments are often expected to be experts in a variety of ever-changing specialties. To keep all the different aspects of your business tech running smoothly, you need access to a wide range of specialized skill sets. But, while these specialties are vital, they’re not necessarily something you’ll need forty hours a week. This is where the collective experience of a Managed Services team is key. With the right partner, you get the expertise and experience you need when you need it.

 

Advisors

IT has evolved from a convenience to a catalyst for innovation and future growth. But with each department working from their own perspective and towards their own goals, it can be difficult to see the broader picture and create a strategic place for IT in your business. An IT advisor with an outside perspective, a solid understanding of business and tech, and the ability to help you develop a plan to move your business forward is in an invaluable asset that can change the course of your entire organization for the better.

 

Bottom Line

Balancing the needs of your business with budget considerations is an ongoing challenge, and IT is no exception. But with the right combination of resources, you can ensure that your business receives all the benefits IT has to offer without sacrificing in other areas. For many organizations, this is where teaming up with a Managed Services partner gives them what they need, when they need it.

Secure Shopping

Stay Secure When Shopping Online

November 14th, 2018 Posted by Cloud, Data, Desktop, Hackers, Hosted Services, Managed Service Provider, Security, Services 2 thoughts on “Stay Secure When Shopping Online”

9 Tips for Secure Shopping Online

As we approach the holiday season, we encourage extra mindfulness when it comes to online shopping.

There are some simple precautions that will make your online purchases more secure, including using reputable third-party pay services (like PayPal) whenever possible, always logging out of sites after you’ve completed a purchase and selecting one credit card for all online purchases to limit exposure.

Here are 9 tips for staying safe online, so you can start checking off items on that holiday shopping list:

1. Use familiar/trusted websites – Start at a trusted site rather than shopping with a search engine. Search results lead you astray, especially when you drift past the first few pages of links. If you know the site, chances are it’s less likely to be a rip off. Beware of misspellings or sites using a different top-level domain (.net instead of .com, for example).

2. Look for the padlock icon – Never buy anything from a site that doesn’t have SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed. You’ll know if the site has SSL because the URL for the site will start with “HTTPS” instead of just “HTTP”. An icon of a locked padlock will appear, typically in the status bar at the bottom of your web browser, or right next to the URL in the address bar, depending on your browser. Never give anyone your credit card over email.

3. Don’t provide all of your info– No online shopping store needs your social security number or your birthday to do business. However, combined with your credit card number, your social security number and other identification numbers can do a lot of damage. When possible, default to giving the least amount of information.

4. Check your bank statements – Don’t wait for your bill to come at the end of the month. Go online regularly during the holiday season to review statements for your credit card, debit card, and checking accounts. Make sure you don’t see any fraudulent charges. If you do see something wrong, pick up the phone to address the matter quickly. In the case of credit cards, pay the bill only once you know all your charges are accurate.

5. Protect your devices – You can protect against malware with regular updates to your operating system, browsers and software. Software companies add security updates along with every upgrade released. Installing updates as soon as they are released can help you better protect your devices against malware. You should also run a reputable, anti-virus product on your home PC or laptop. This will help prevent your device from becoming infected with malware.

6. Use strong passwords – It’s always important to utilize strong passwords, but it’s never more important than when banking and shopping online. Make sure your passwords are unique for each website, contain a healthy mix of letters, numbers and symbols when allowed. Passwords should not be easy to guess (like your last name or birthday). Use a password protected spreadsheet or secure app to store your passwords. When possible, set up multi-factor authentication for additional security.

7. Avoid shopping on public devices – It should go without saying that it’s a bad idea to use a public computer to make purchases. If you must, remember to log out every time you use a public computer, even if you were just checking email. Avoid entering your credit card and expiration date on websites in public, even if you’re using your own devices. By doing so you’re giving onlookers the chance to steal your information. At the very least, double check no one is looking and be as discreet as possible.

Additionally, don’t use publicly available charging cords or USB ports to charge your devices. Publicly available power outlets are generally fine, but the cords or ports could be used to deliver malware to your phone.

8. Avoid shopping via public Wi-Fi – Avoid using public Wi-Fi hotspots – like the ones at coffee shops, airports, hotels, etc., for online shopping. If you do use a public Wi-Fi hotspot, be sure to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) so others cannot intercept your communications. As an alternative, stick to the mobile network and create a personal Wi-Fi hotspot with your phone.

9. Keep an eye out for obvious scams – Stick to the source when you buy gift cards; scammers like to auction off gift cards on sites like eBay with little or no funds on them. Some scams offer of a free product with purchase, like an iPad or even holiday job offers. Many of these “offers” will surface on social media or phishing emails. Be wary if you get a message from friend claiming he or she has been robbed, especially a friend overseas looking for money to be wire transferred, unless you absolutely can confirm it by talking to him or her personally. Skepticism in most cases can go a long way toward saving you from a stolen card number.

Trust Your Judgement

If you’re shopping online and something seems fishy, it probably is. Trust your judgement or ask for a second opinion before submitting your credit card or other personally identifying information online. No purchase, no matter how great of a deal, is worth the risk of identity theft.

While following these guidelines won’t completely eliminate the chance of becoming a victim of cybercrime, they can help you avoid risky situations and protect yourself against identity theft.

Happy Shopping!

 

Sources: PC Mag & ColoradoBiz

vCIO

What Does a vCIO Do Anyway?

November 14th, 2018 Posted by Cloud, Data, Desktop, Hosted Services, Managed Service Provider, Services 0 thoughts on “What Does a vCIO Do Anyway?”

vCIO, Explained

Despite the title, a vCIO, or Virtual Chief Information Officer, is not virtual at all.

For many Managed Service Providers (MSPs), like Think Network Technologies, a vCIO is somewhat of a figurehead. A vCIO serves as an outsourced Chief Information Officer for organizations that don’t have a full-time CIO on staff. The vCIO is an off-site business position.

But What Does a vCIO Do?

This service offers key insight into the development of business strategies as they pertain to technology. That means they spend a lot of time in the field, digging around customers’ wiring crouching under desks and testing their clients’ technology infrastructures.

A vCIO should perform the same functions as a conventional CIO – collaborating with and advising clients’ IT departments. This includes formulating strategic IT goals, planning the IT budget, analyzing and reworking business processes and facilitating technology changes.

Working inside a company’s infrastructure begins with a network assessment of an organization’s current technology and limitations, ultimately building a roadmap to a more productive future. Software analysis tools and old-fashioned legwork are utilized to perform the network assessment.

Some tools a vCIO uses are optional, but having the expertise and knowledge to address your technology needs is not.

Does My Company Need a vCIO?

What role does technology play in your business? – Do you know what applications your employees and/or customers depend on? Do you know what your security requirements are? Do you know what data access needs you have?

What are your company’s growth plans? – Does your company have a growth plan to help anticipate your future technology needs?

What are your business objectives? ­– Do you know your company’s long and short-term business goals, including what technology you will need to reach those goals?

If you don’t know or are unclear about any of the answers to the questions above, you probably need a vCIO. Generally speaking, any organization thinking about the big picture of the company needs a vCIO.

Get in Touch

Think’s vCIO service aligns your organization’s IT strategy with overall objectives and provides the best technology solutions to maximize efficiency. Contact us to learn more.

Credit: Gordon Flesch Company, Inc.

IT Audit

How to Run a Simple IT Audit

November 14th, 2018 Posted by Cloud, Data, Desktop, Hosted Services, Managed Service Provider, Services 0 thoughts on “How to Run a Simple IT Audit”

Conduct an IT Audit in 6 Easy Steps

You can’t manage an IT system effectively if you don’t know what it’s made of. It’s easy to lose sight of what makes up your IT ecosystem, especially if IT is not your only responsibility at work. Keeping track of IT systems is increasingly more difficult with emerging technologies.

In order to develop an IT strategy for the future, it’s important to take an occasional pulse on your existing IT systems. Here are six easy steps to perform a simple IT audit:

1. Start with the hardware

Bring your own device policies have made it easier to lose track of the hardware being used in the business. Some policies don’t just allow employees to bring in personal devices; they allow those with access to departmental budgets to purchase hardware without running it through IT.

Your accounts department should be able to give you the official list of what hardware has been purchased. But other purchases might not have been given an “IT” code when run through accounts.

Now is a good time to survey department heads to see what’s actually in use. You’re likely in for some surprises. You’ll likely find some employees working on devices they own and others working on devices the company bought.

2. Good records make for good decisions

You can track the findings in a basic spreadsheet, but it’s better to use a dedicated desktop management app.

Knowing what’s actually happening will help you determine if there are better ways to pay for the technology your company needs.

3. Check use-by dates

Keep an eye out for PCs, servers, printers, and other office hardware that’s close to end-of-life or end-of-lease. Work with your account department and suppliers to put together a plan for phasing out old equipment and phasing in new equipment.

4. Software audit

Find out what software is running on your machines – and which machines it’s running on. Ask what budget was used to buy it. Again, this information will help you make better decisions in the future.

Remember, software can also have a use-by date if the vendor isn’t going to support it. And software as a service (SaaS) subscriptions can also expire.

Find out if employees are subscribing to their own cloud solutions using corporate funds. Even when those services are paid for on corporate credit cards, they can slip through accounting because they aren’t assigned to the right budget.

5. Security focus

Security software, like antivirus apps, virtual private network solutions, and encryption, needs special attention. Check to make sure your license or subscription has not expired – you don’t want to find your license or subscription has lapsed when it’s key to your defenses.

6. Finish with a walk

Just by walking the floors, you’ll be amazed at what hardware and software use you spot that wasn’t picked up in any other process. Take inventory of your findings.

Put Your Audit into Action

So you’ve completed an IT audit. Now what? Use your findings to determine which technologies need to be replaced, renewed or recycled.

Make sure purchases for new hardware and/or software are prioritized and worked into your company’s IT budget. Schedule time to conduct a simple IT audit at least once a year to continue to plan for the future.

Think Can Help

An in-depth, professional analysis of your company’s IT systems can assist in driving future technology goals for your business. Think Network Technologies offers a variety of IT solutions and services, including professional IT audits.

For more information about how we can support your business, contact us.

Network Security

Layer Your Security Like a Bean Dip

October 11th, 2018 Posted by Cloud, Community, Data, Desktop, Hosted Services, Managed Service Provider, Services, Staff 0 thoughts on “Layer Your Security Like a Bean Dip”

What is Network Security?

Network security is any activity designed to protect the usability and integrity of your network and data. It includes both hardware and software technologies. Effective network security manages access to the network and targets a variety of threats to stop them from entering or spreading on your network.

The Layered Approach

Like a bean dip, your security should be layered. Network security combines multiple layers of defenses at the edge and in the network. Each network security layer implements policies and controls. Authorized users gain access to network resources, but hackers are blocked from carrying out threats.

The layered security approach is a simple concept: the more hoops a hacker has to jump through, the less likely they are to be successful. The trick is to create a layered bean dip with the right consistency so your chip doesn’t break off. In other words, while you want hackers to have a hard time breaking into your systems, you want to keep your security simple and seamless for users.

6 Layers of Security

1) Response Plan – The first layer, the foundation, is the response plan. In the event of a breach, having a clear response plan in place will help ensure that you address all of the necessary pieces of remediation. Without a plan, you are more likely to miss something as you hastily try to patch holes, leaving your company still vulnerable.

2) Monitoring & Alerting – The second layer is monitoring and alerting. Monitors to help ensure complete coverage of a solution and the networks on which it runs and alerts help ensure that system failures and other issues are dealt with quickly. Without monitoring and alerting, you may never know a hacker has infiltrated your system.

3) Data Encryption & User Permissions – The third layer is like the lettuce and tomato – two ingredients that combine to make one layer. Data is most likely the most important piece of your business, so data encryption and user permissions are essential layers of security.

4) Applications – Data lives within applications, so naturally this is the next layer of security. Ensuring access to applications is accurate and limited, in addition to practicing secure coding methods will help protect your application layer.

5) Operating System – Applications are usually accessed from a desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile device – so it’s important to make sure these devices are secure. Antivirus software, security policies and patching add security to operating systems.

6) Network – The last layer is the network. Setting up firewalls, intrusion detection systems and user authentication technologies are a few ways to protect your network from potential hackers.

The Bottom Line

Layers of security make your network safer. The better you layer your approach, the safer your network will be.

We Can Help

You need to work with someone who is keeping their eye on the shifting technology landscape – it’s worth working with a trusted adviser to navigate the options, especially when money is a consideration.

Think Network Technologies offers a variety of IT solutions and services. For more information about how we can optimize network security and support your business, contact us.

Why Outsource?

Why You Should Outsource Your IT Support

September 13th, 2018 Posted by Cloud, Community, Data, Desktop, Hosted Services, Managed Service Provider, Services, Staff 0 thoughts on “Why You Should Outsource Your IT Support”

Why Outsource?

Virtually everything is connected to data. How your business manages data continues to gain importance – as technologies evolve and become more sophisticated it is imperative for your business to have a strong grasp on its IT strategy. However, for many small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) it is not practical to manage IT efforts in house. There are several key benefits to outsourcing IT support.

7 Reasons to Outsource IT Support

  1. Reduce IT Costs – Qualified, full-time, in-house IT professionals are expensive. The number one reason to outsource your company’s IT support is to lower costs. By outsourcing, you can spend less money on full-time resources and focus your budget on specific IT needs and projects.
  2. Free Up Internal Resources – By outsourcing IT support to a third-party provider, you can free up internal resources allowing them to focus on the growth of the business while your outsourced team focuses on technology.
  3. Compete with Larger Businesses – Resource and budget limitations often prevent SMBs from having an effective, in-house IT team, making it nearly impossible to compete with large businesses that have the budget to maintain their own IT services and systems. By outsourcing your company’s IT to qualified IT professionals, you can create a more even playing field.
  4. Reduce Your Risk – When you shift your IT to a third-party provider, you offload some the infrastructural risk that comes with it. When you share the risk, your company can become more agile, dynamic, and flexible, which will help you deliver a better product/service in the long-run.
  5. Offload Compliance & Security – Outsourced IT support will handle compliance and security tasks, so you won’t have to worry about things like keeping your firewall up to date or whether or not your workstations have been audited for compliance and security. A qualified Managed Service Provider (MSP) will minimize the risks associated with maintaining sensitive data for your business.
  6. Access Top-Level Experts – Most SMBs don’t have the budget to hire a panel of IT experts to guide you through the changing world of big data. When you outsource your IT support, you gain access to highly qualified and certified engineers that will help your company stay competitive.
  7. Get 24/7 Support – Outsourced IT support can provide after-hours, weekend and holiday emergency technical support, taking the stress and responsibility off of your team if something goes wrong. Technology should function effectively 24/7 – working with an outsourced team can provide peace of mind.

Immediate & Long-Term Benefits

By partnering with an IT team, your business can reap immediate and long-term benefits. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of outsourcing your company’s IT needs. Think of both short term and long-term goals, needs and considerations. However, there are more reasons now than ever to outsource your company’s IT needs.

We Can Help

Think Network Technologies offers a variety of IT solutions and services. For more information about how we can support your business, contact us.

IT Budget

It’s Budget Planning Season

September 13th, 2018 Posted by Cloud, Community, Data, Desktop, Hosted Services, Managed Service Provider, Services, Staff 0 thoughts on “It’s Budget Planning Season”

Q4 is Just Around the Corner

With Q4 just around the corner, it’s time to implement this year’s remaining IT projects and start planning your IT budget for next year.

Now is a good time to communicate and gain consensus for next year’s IT budget and strategy. IT projects are more easily justified at budgeting time when everyone knows their purpose, impact and objectives than if budget season is the first time anyone hears of it.

If you don’t already have an IT strategy, use the budgeting period as an opportunity to develop a strategy that’s presented immediately before your budget. If you have a cohesive and well-conceived plan, the money to execute that plan is less likely to be questioned. Anticipate capabilities that will be affected if you are required to make significant reductions to your IT budget.

Where to Focus Your IT Budget

As you plan for next year, here are 10 budget must-haves for many IT departments:

  1. Extra licensing fees – When new employees come through the doors, it’s important to be ready with the tools for them to get the job done, including extra licensing fees. This should cover productivity software, antivirus/malware (if you run a Windows platform), Exchange licenses (again, if you run a Windows platform), and any other piece of software necessary for business operations.
  2. Emergency hardware replacement – No matter how careful you are, no matter how well you’ve evaluated, deployed and administered your company’s hardware, it will eventually need to be replaced. Hardware replacement can be expensive and it’s important to have an emergency fund wrapped into your budget.
  3. Mobile technology – Mobile technology continues to become increasingly important. You should allocate a portion of your budget to cover mobile, if you haven’t already done so. This might be in the form of covering the cost of devices or data plans.
  4. Upgrades – Software and hardware need to be frequently upgraded. If you’re running outdated versions of your productivity software or outdated hardware, it’s a good idea to consider upgrading. Make sure your IT budget is prepared to upgrade software and hardware when necessary.
  5. Staffing needs – If your business expects to grow so much that you have to expand your IT staff, you will want to be prepared. Think can help with outsourced IT needs to help save money for your business.
  6. Cloud solutions – Cloud solutions can be in the form of a third-party solution or an onsite cloud solution. Either way, you will need room in your budget not only to deploy new cloud solutions, but also to expand existing cloud solutions.
  7. Software – Beyond purchasing updates for existing software, at some point you’re going to need to purchase new software or SaaS (software-as-a-service). New software will ultimately help your staff become more productive.
  8. Training – Technology is constantly evolving and tech standards from five or 10 years ago may no longer be relevant. Proper technology training could be imperative to keeping your company’s data secure.
  9. Data pipe – Who pays for your connection to the internet? Who pays for the failover connection? Who is responsible for the cost when your connection needs an upgrade? The answer to those questions is most likely “Your budget.” If your business depends upon an internet connection, you need a backup, even if it’s significantly slower.
  10. Data protection solution – Your business needs to have a solid, reliable backup solution deployed so that, should disaster strike, you can recover. Even if you happen to roll your own backup, you will still need to ensure that the backup hardware you use is always in working order and that there is a secure location to house the rotating drives.

Use IT or Lose IT

Now is the time to use your IT budget for remaining projects. If you’re not sure where to use your funds, take another look at the list above.

Or get in touch and our expertly trained engineers can discuss the best IT strategy for your business. We’re passionate about helping your business succeed!

CONTACT US

888.98.THINK
970.247.1885
3067 Main Ave. Durango, CO

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