Setting up and managing IT can often be a stressful process.
For many small business owners, setting up and managing IT can often be a stressful process. The number one priority is getting the business off the ground and making money, rather than wasting time checking the IT is set up correctly. However, it does not have to be complicated.
One worry small businesses come to our advisors with is how to keep data safe. Viruses and other types of malware exploit weaknesses in software code. They can damage a business’s network, corrupting files so they are irretrievable and rendering computers useless until the malware is removed.
For businesses of all sizes, the effect of malicious software can be expensive. For example, in early 2011, SABMiller, the brewer, lost £7.2 million because of the Conflicker virus. Although an extreme example, virus exposure can also impact small businesses, hindering the day-to-day running of the firm, wasting unnecessary time and money.
In the case of virus exposure, prevention is better than cure. The first step is to install or update your antivirus software. Antivirus protection could save your firm valuable time and money by catching malware before it enters the system. There are several packages available, dependent on requirements and the number of layers of protection the business needs.
Both Norton and McAfee Antivirus are well respected, and for a relatively small price they can protect your system, prevent harmful downloads and remove threats that can be deeply buried in a PC’s operating system. PCs can become infected within eight seconds of being connected to the internet and numbers, varieties, and types of threats are increasing.
Furthermore, it is often assumed that Mac computers are immune to malware. But with two viruses confirmed recently, SMEs with Apple computers need to be prepared as well. All of the major antivirus software providers also offer versions for Mac operating systems.
Getting the wrong IT support
Getting the wrong tech support can be damaging and expensive to any business. Relying on friends and family to help set up your IT may seem like the best solution but when there is a mission critical problem you need expert advice.
For busy SMEs, remote IT management can be the answer to solve these IT issues. Remote monitoring and support will provide your business with the security of a full time network of experts who troubleshoot, fix network problems and give IT advice without you having to leave the office.
Remote monitoring support comes in two forms. Downloadable software will allow an IT expert to log-in and view your desktop live. By sharing control of your mouse and keyboard they will be able to fix the problem from afar. In addition, a support team can also talk you through any IT issues via a dedicated helpline.
The main benefit of remote IT management for SMEs is that it provides full-time support without the expense of paying a permanent member of staff. With a technical expert monitoring your IT requirements, you will be free to focus on the business instead of worrying about IT issues.
Helping staff that lack the confidence to use IT efficiently
Training provider, Learndirect, states that poor IT skills can result in each employee wasting 48 minutes a day. Therefore in the long run, training will help improve your firm’s productivity and provide much needed efficiencies.
There are two options to help ensure all employees know how to use existing technology confidently. Internal training sessions are a cost effective way to boost IT skills, while external training, although clearly a cost, can provide a better way to get staff up to speed on more complicated software.
Internal training sessions, organised between staff should involve the entire organisation, especially senior level management. Make sure it is run by a technology-savvy employee, or one who has undertaken external IT training. These sessions should also be run regularly to keep all employees’ skills up-to-date.
External training will prepare staff to use a specific piece of IT and helps build confidence which improves employee efficiency. We often advise small business customers that wish to brush up on their IT skills to look at The British Computer Society. It offers a number of courses and can provide you with further information on the most suitable programme for your employees.
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