In today’s business environment, technology is used to impact every section of a business. When used correctly, technology will skyrocket business growth. When left unmanaged, it can be a roadblock and lead to business failure.
Management of technology can be expensive, time-consuming, and frustrating. Large organizations have IT departments that research, implement, and support critical technology for the business. Small businesses may not have the budget and expertise needed to manage and secure technology solutions.
To help companies that do not have managed IT services for small business, we came up with the Sample Technology Plan for Small Businesses. This guide will review the essential technology that is at the core of most business operations. We will review each technology, why it is used, what we recommend, and best practices on managing the solution within your business.
Here are the technology categories each business needs. Click on each one for explanation and recommendations.
What Is a Firewall?
A firewall is a device that is used to allow access from the company network to the Internet and secure access from the Internet and other office locations to your office. The device can block malicious users from reaching your servers and computers. A firewall can also provide content filtering, allow employees to work remotely, and provide internet redundancy by switching to an alternative internet provider in case of failure.
Why You Need a Firewall
Secure the internet connection. Allow redundancy of internet connection, allow employees to work remotely.
Firewall Solution We Recommend
Cisco Meraki MX appliance
Additional Solutions Available: SonicWall, Fortinet
Firewall Management and Support Recommendations
Change default password. Configure content filtering to increase security. Small businesses should check devices at least once a month for security updates and review security logs. Larger companies will monitor the firewall in real-time using a security operations center. Configure critical notification to be sent to an email that is frequently reviewed.
#2 Email Service
What Is Email Service?
Email service provider hosts the Mail server that he is used for day-to-day communications that is specific to business name.
Why You Need Email Service
Many companies require a business email to filter out spammers. A good email provider will synchronize all of your messages across every device you own and will simplify how you send receive and store email, contacts, and calendar appointments.
The Email Service Solution We Recommend
Microsoft Office 365.
Additional Solutions Available: Google Workplace.
Email Service Management and Support Recommendations
Start by designating who is the administrator and create a backup administrator. Secure every accounts with multi factor authentication. Setup your teams, groups, and shared mailboxes for your departments. Configure security policies to protect your users.
#3 Centralized File Storage Service or Server
What Is a Centralized File Storage Service or Server?
Centralized file storage solution allows all of your documents to be stored in a secured location and easily accessible by inside or outside of the company.
Why You Need Centralized File Storage Service
Storing your files in a secure central location assures that all of your files are easily accessible buy all of your employees. Some of the new modern file storage solutions will allow you to easily grant access to the files when your employees are in the office or outside of the office.
A good modern file storage solution will also allow you to securely share the files with your clients and prospects and access to the file can expire after a specific date
Centralized File Storage Solution We Recommend
Microsoft SharePointfor cloud company drives. OneDrive for documents that are for a specific employee, and Windows File server for companies that need to have large amounts of data on-site.
Additional Solutions Available: Google Workplace.
Centralized File Storage Management and Support Recommendations
Initial setup and configuration of individual account for each employee. Create groups of employees that are for different departments or teams. Manage access to files by groups and not by individual employees. Turn on multi factor authentication. Make sure youre data is properly backed up and you are able to perform a restore.
#4 Antivirus Protection
What Is Antivirus Protection?
Antivirus protection prevents viruses and spyware from taking over your computer. Antivirus software can also alert you if there is a compromise in your business.
Why You Need Antivirus Protection
The primary purpose of antivirus software is to protect your computers and servers from viruses. However, with the constant rise of cyberattacks, protection from viruses is no longer sufficient. A good centrally managed antivirus solution is your early warning system to let you know if an intruder is inside your network.
Antivirus Protection We Recommend
Trend Micro Worry Free Service
Additional Solutions Available: SentinelOne, Webroot, Bitdefender.
Antivirus Management and Support Recommendations
Initial setup and and configuration. Configure central management and notification of alerts. Configure exception for various applications. Designate who will login and check alerts on schedule basis.
#5 Network Switch(s)
What Is a Network Switch?
The network switch links all the wired equipment in your office using network cables. The switch is usually connected to your firewall or internet router. When thinking of business network, think of network switch as the heart of your network. It connects to different devices using veins (network cables). The network switch then links to your brain (router) that allows you to connect to the Internet.
Why You Need a Network Switch
The most reliable method to connect technology equipment together is by using a wired cable. Cables are run to each office and are connected to the switch. Multiple switches are connectedto each other to expand number of connections possible. The main switch is connected to your firewall to allow network devices to access the Internet.
What Are Different Types of Network Switches?
There are three types of switches available. simple switch, smart switch, and managed switch.
- Simple Switch – Simple switch is designed for use where configuration is not required.
- Smart Switch – Smart switch is designed for use where you may need to have very little configuration and would benefit from knowing information about connections on your network.
- Managed Switch – Managed switch is for companies that require advanced configuration and visibility of the wired network. This type of switch offers advanced security and are usually found in large businesses, data centers, and internet providers.
Network Switch We Recommend
Cisco Meraki MS Switch
Additional Solutions Available: Meraki Go Switch, TP Link Smart Switch.
Switch Management and Support Recommendations
Smart switches and managed switches requite configuration and support. Start by setting up management IP and change default password. Check switches on scheduled basis for updates from manufacturer.
#6 Wireless Network
What Is a Wireless Network?
Wireless network will allow employees and guests to work securely anywhere in the office without the need for a wired internet connection.
Why You Need a Wireless Network
Many devices currently used for business can only connect to the Internet using a wireless connection. Also, having a good wireless connection at your office can allow your employees with laptop to work from any section of the office.
Wireless Network Solution We Recommend
Cisco Meraki MR Access Points
Additional Solutions Available: Meraki Go, Ubiquity Unify.
Wireless Network Management and Support Recommendations
Setup a data network, and guest network. Use data network for company computers only and keep the wifi password confidential. Make sure the guest network can not access any of your equipment on the data network, but can access the Internet. Optinally, limit the speed of guest network.
#7 Business Phone System
What Is a Business Phone System?
Business phone system allows for centralized voice communication between clients, employees and vendors.
Why You Need a Business Phone System
Traditionally, conversations about phone systems were limited to phone numbers and phone calls. Today, phone systems are communication and collaboration solutions. Employees can work from anywhere and communicate with phone calls, chat, instant messages, and video conferencing. A good communication and collaboration solution will make it easy for your clients to communicate with you and simplify how employees will communicate with each other.
What Are the Different Types of Business Phone Systems?
There are multiple types of phone systems available
- Traditional on-site PBX – Traditional PBX is a hardware system installed at an office. The system is usually mounted on the wall in the server room. Systems like this require special phones that are compatible with the current system installed. The company has to purchase the system and phone service separately.
- VOIP on-site Phone System – Modern VOIP on-site systems can run on a dedicated computer or a server. The system can interact with a broader range of phones. The Phones are connected to the phone system using your wired network. The company has to purchase the system and phone service separately.
- VOIP as a Service – The provider hosts the phone system. The system can be run on different brands of phones or on a computer without the need to purchase a phone. There is no special server or phone systems to install at your office. The service is usually sold on a per-user basis and already includes phone service as part of the charge.
Business Phone System Solution We Recommend
GoToConnect (Jive), Microsoft Teams, 3CX (On-site – VOIP).
Additional Solutions Available: There are many vendors offering communication and collaboration solutions.
Business Phone System Management and Support Recommendations
Reliable and low latency internet connection is critical to implementing a VOIP system. Implementing strong password and multi-factor authentication for management and admin access will help you avoid phone fraud.
#8 Backup System
What Is a Backup System?
The backup system will backup your servers, files, and applications. A modern backup system will also be able to provide business continued services to restore business operations quickly.
Why You Need a Backup System
The backup solution is critical to the success of any business. With the rise of cybercrime, there is a significant increase in the attempt made to break into a business network. There are also dangers from hardware failure, user error, and natural disasters. The ability to quickly recover data and business operations depends on the type of backup used and the backup’s business continuity options.
What Are The Different Types of Backup Systems?
There are multiple types of backup solutions. Here is a list of solutions in the industry.
- Manual Backup – Manual backup are performed by hand. This type of backup relies on a designated person to perform the backup and perform additional steps. Reliability if this backup will depend on
- File only backup – File-only backup allows for a restore of files. However, if the company runs a server and has different applications, they will need to be re-installed and re-configured.
- Full server backup – Full server backup allows the company to restore the entire server and all applications/data on the server.
- Incremental backup – Incremental backup only backs up changes that were made after the last backup. Because all data is not backed up, if a full restore is required, it may take longer, and a full backup image will be needed.
- Cloud Backup – Backing up the data to the cloud to restore should a local disaster occur.
Backup Systems We Recommend
Backup and Disaster Recovery Appliance (BDR). BDR is a dedicated hardened server that is on your company network. The server backs up any company servers every hour. BDR can restore a single file, multiple folders, or an entire server. The backups are retained for a period of one year.
Once a day all the daily backups are backed up to the cloud. In an emergency, the backup device can virtualize the backup and function as the companies production server.
Backup System Management and Support Recommendations
Here is a list of items to consider when setting up, managing, and supporting a backup system.
- Backup Separation – Backup separation is where there are multiple levels of separation between the data that is backed up and where the data is stored. The industry recommendation is to have three levels of separation.
- Backup data storage separation – The backup data should not be located or accessible for the same server that is backed up.
- Credential separation – The backup device should use credentials that are not used on the production server for administration. If the server is compromised, the hacker should not have access to the backup system.
- Geographical separation – Copy of backup data should be stored in a different geographical location or region. This will help to protect the data in case of a local natural disaster.
- Backup Frequency and Retention – Backup Frequency will determine how often your data is backed up. Backup retention will determine how long your data is kept.
- Business Continuity – Business continuity is the ability to virtualize and run servers or applications without the need to restore the full backup.
- Backup Verification – Automatic and manual backup checks need to be scheduled and reviewed. Test restore conducted on a scheduled basis
#9 Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System
What Is a CRM System?
Customer Relationship Management System is a platform for managing company’s relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers. A modern CRM will keep track of communications, automate replies, and significantly improve the sales process for the business.
Why You Need a CRM System
Here are the top 6 reasons companies choose to invest in a CRM System.
- You’re unable to keep up with lead flow.
- Your customer data is hard to locate.
- Your customer service is coming up short.
- You have valuable, long-term accounts you need to manage.
- Your reporting process takes too much time.
- You’re unsure about your path to growth.
CRM System We Recommend
Selection for a good CRM solution will depend on your specific business. Some of the top solutions we observed. SalesForce, HubSpot, Zoho.
CRM Management and Support Recommendations
Data maintenance, system update, backup.
#10 Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System
What Is an ERP System?
ERP System is used to manage day-to-day business activities such as finance, HR, distribution, manufacturing. ERP systems collect data from accounting, CRM, order management, and shipping and allow employees and leadership to access all the information from the same Solution.
Why You Need an ERP System
Companies implement ERP systems for the following reasons.
- a catalyst for business innovation.
- a platform for business process efficiency.
- a vehicle for process standardization.
- IT cost savings.
ERP Systems We Recommend
ERP systems are business-specific. ECS has worked with many ERP solutions from various vendors. If you would like to know more about an ERP solution, contact us for more information.
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Expert Computer Solutions (ECS) is a leading IT Consulting company based out of Houston, TX. If you own a business, we can assist by helping you select the right technology solution, implementing industry best practices, and providing ongoing IT maintenance and support. To find out how we can contact us and schedule a free business consultation.