As the end of 2016 is coming into focus, many businesses are putting plans together for their 2017 budget and hopefully IT expenditures are a large part of the conversation. For years IT has been regarded as a cost center, often swallowing up a large chunk of your budget with the capital expenditures (CAPEX) needed to keep your operations secure and efficient.
Whether you like it or not, technology can quickly make or break your business. As you start working on your 2017 business goals consider how a technology issue could affect those goals. The 3 top technology topics that forward thinking businesses address are their servers, email and backup.
A server is the backbone of a multi-user environment but it may be difficult to find the $5-10k in your budget that a new one may cost you. Hosted servers have quickly become a common feature in the small business arena and the monthly operational expense (OPEX) is budget friendly. The most common apps placed on cloud servers are Active Directory, SQL Server, QuickBooks, Remote Desktop, CRM software, Medical record software, Legal services software and Accounting software. Additionally, if your business is subject to PCI, HIIPA or SOX compliance and you don’t have a large IT budget or don’t want to handle the ongoing support and maintenance; hosted (cloud) solutions are the way to go.
Email is the top form of business communication. You can still run your own email on your own server but frankly the pros of using a hosted solution far outweigh out doing it yourself. There are many providers in the marketplace with many different price points so your decision will be based on need to have versus want to have. Features, level of customer service and reliability are the biggest factors in pricing so start with a wish list and go from there.
Back up is a boring topic but ridiculously important. You may even think you’ve got a stellar system in place but have you tested it? Do you have an onsite backup for quick retrievals and an offsite backup for complete restores? As much as you’d like to deal with this topic once and then move on it really does need to be an ongoing business function much like balancing your books every month. A backup system can be reporting positive backups but if you are not periodically verifying the integrity of the data, you may have a false sense of security.
These topics are daunting but thankfully small businesses have more cost effective options than ever before. Addressing them now will be a positive step in setting your business up for success in 2017 and then you can focus on crushing your goals!