There are a whole mess of technology advancements available these days. Products, software, you name it- there is always something new and different and a “must-have” for today’s successful small business.
The truth is, most of these aren’t actually necessary to run a company. But, how do you know for certain what is important and what is not? We’ve broken down the top 5 “must-haves” for your company that aren’t really that important.
Wait a minute…isn’t a server the main component of any good IT support? Yes, but only if your company actually needs one. These days, especially for small businesses, having a server might be unneccessary and will end up costing you more money than you need to spend. If your company is small, without a large number of employees, and doesn’t use any company-specific customized third-party programs (some of which require a server to run), you can run your entire business from the Cloud. This not only helps your business run more efficiently, it can cut down on a huge amount of costs to you.
So, if you are a small business, don’t automatically assume you need a server. Take time to talk with your IT support and analyze your company’s environment and IT needs before you spend thousands on a piece of equipment that might not be necessary.
2. Local Software
Have you recently gone to Best Buy and looked at the price of a Microsoft Office suite? It’s really expensive. Nowadays, you don’t actually need to buy disks to install important software on your computer. There are many software programs out there that can be run from the Cloud, like Microsoft Office 365, or Quickbooks. Usually these come with a monthly subscription cost. While it might seem like more money since you are paying monthly, it can actually work out to be much cheaper, since your subscription includes any updates along with it. That means you don’t have to buy a new version every few years.
Again though, it is important to make sure that your business is in the right situation to use cloud-based software. If your company is too big, it might not actually be cost-efficient for you. But, we have found that with many small businesses, it makes much more sense from a financial and productivity standpoint to go with the cloud-based software programs.
3. Desktop Backups
Are you under the impression that you should be backing up everything on each employee’s machine? If so, you are really going to be overpaying for your backups. The best way to go about backups, especially for small businesses, is to have a number of shared drives for your company, and only back those up. Make sure everyone in your company knows where to save their data, and explain to them that if they do not save items in these specific drives, those items will not be backed up. This not only means they have the potential to be lost during a crisis, it also means that if an employee wants an earlier version of a file that they did not save in the shared drives, they will not be able to retrieve that file.
Backups are usually billed based on the amount of data your company is backing up. By restricting your backups to the shared drives, you are going to save a lot of money.
On a side note, having everyone save only to the shared drives will also come in handy for telecommuting.
4. Phone System
Aside from a computer, your phone system is really the most important piece of equipment in your office that is necessary for your business to run. The great thing is that these days, there is no need to invest money in a very expensive, over-the-top, separate phone system. You can use a VOIP (Voice Over IP) system, which runs your phone connection through your computer system, saving you money.
There are also programs out there that allow you to set up your office phone system online and forward the calls directly to your cell phones. That way you don’t even need to buy any office phones. Make sure though, that your company is in a situation where this would actually be beneficial. If you are a small office comprised mostly of teleworkers, this probably makes sense. If you are a huge corporation that has hundreds of workers, it might be best to stick with a VOIP system.
5. Screen Share Programs
With the rise of teleworking has come the age of the screen shares. So many programs out there these days allow you to host meetings, webinars, conferences, or even just one-on-one appointments all from the comfort of your computer. And even better, there are a lot of great programs you can use that are completely free. Programs such as Skype and Join.Me (both of which Network Depot uses) allow you to connect with people anywhere in the world, so long as they also have a computer and a working internet connection.
This is one area where all companies, big and small, can cut costs. These free programs tend to work just as well as the paid ones, and they are a snap to sign up for. So unless your company has some very specific screen sharing and teleconferencing needs that can’t be met through these programs, we highly recommend using them.
Fact is, IT for businesses can get very expensive very quickly. With the information overload society that we live in today, it is really difficult to know what the best decision is for your business. Our advice is to sit down with your IT support and really discuss what specific needs your business has, your budget, and explore options for how to get where you need to go.
In fact, even if you aren’t a Network Depot client, we actually provide this consultation to you for free. Just sign up here.
Do you have any IT programs or products that you are not sure if your company needs? Let us know in the comments!