IT Support is essential for a business’s network operations to run efficiently, but it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. In fact, there are lots of way to reduce your support costs with simple practices. Here are 10 of the best.
- Install antivirus and anti-malware protection on all computers
This keeps computers running efficiently and reduces the risk of infections or crashes from ill-advised activity that can pose a threat your business email.
- Add spam and antivirus protection at server level
This helps block viruses and malware from ever making its way onto your network. It’s tough on work distractions too, so if employees getting their fantasy football or social media fix during work is impacting productivity, it can help you sidestep that issue too.
- Replace desktop computers periodically
A five-year lifecycle is about right to keep the working speed of most office-based computers up, but PCs used for more specialist roles, such as IT developers for example, may need to be replaced more frequently.
- Standardise configurations
Parity is good when it comes machine management. If the computer set-up is standard within the office (there are always a few exceptions), they can be managed centrally or even remotely. Updates and patches are more straightforward, new employees can be set up quicker and PCs experiencing issues can be replaced more easily.
- Use latest versions and update
Using the latest version of your operating system and applications, and updating regularly, will help you stay on top of security. By patching computers and preventing holes from appearing that might give hackers an opportunity to access your network, your system will be much more robust and less likely to invite cyberattack activity.
If you use cloud computing, avail of the many regular updates and upgrades on offer.
- Use remote support
Having a team of experts on-hand to troubleshoot and resolve any issues that crop up can be much more cost-effective than in-house support that is paid round the clock, whether you need them or not.
Remote support from a virtual CIO also guarantees you’ll always have access to the knowledge and expertise you need, whatever happens. That might not be the case if you come up against a specialist issue, with a non-specialist team, resulting in third-party costs anyway.
- Insist that employees change passwords regularly
Capturing and guessing passwords remains one of the most obvious (and successful) ways for hackers to gain access to networks. Ensuring your system requests regular password updates and looks for authorisations on unprompted password changes, is a simple but effective way to protect your business.
- Educate employees on file protection and email security
Employees can be your best defence and weakest link when it comes to cyber security and associated costs.
An educated workforce is less likely to fall foul of the obvious pitfalls of malware and dodgy emails, and businesses that have made online security an integral part of their employee training programmes report a measurable difference in awareness and policy success.
Some go as far as testing employees, incorporating a pass rate into quizzes, making it mandatory for employees to refresh their knowledge (and pass the test) on a regular basis.
These quizzes are common practice in the financial industry, for example, where employees assume some accountability and responsibility for things such as security, accounts and data protection, so it makes sense to ensure it remains front of mind.
Not all businesses need to go that far, but the premise is the same and you can keep it as simple as your business requires, managing the training in-house, tapping into online tutorials if you don’t have the resources to pull it together for you, or if you can, consulting with an outsourced IT expert.
- Appoint a designated Support Manager
This should be your go-to person for everything from operational IT to maintenance scheduling and vendor relations. Whether they’re an internal resource or outsourced support, they should be known within the business and every everyone should be familiar with the processes of raising IT issues or tickets.
Keeping support tight not only helps diagnose and resolve issues faster, but the business insight gathered over time can prove invaluable when it comes to anticipating issues, identifying recurring problems or making suggestions on areas that could benefit from IT training.
- Be smart about working from home and the BYOD/CYOD trend
Flexibility is great, essential even in some businesses, so it’s imperative that your IT and security policies cover the popular ‘Bring your own device / Choose your own device’ set-up that many companies now opt for.
This will help reduce the risk of data theft and protects against malware that can be introduced to the network by an infected device that’s not maintained by the company.
That means personal devices used for work purposes must meet the same standards as the office desktops, with the same server-based safeguards and in some cases extra security such as purging functionality, allowing the business to wipe all data remotely, should a device get lost or stolen.
There’s no doubt that being savvy about support can reduce costs and create a more productive workforce, generating savings that could be better spent on new servers, faster broadband or a more robust storage solution.
The best IT Support companies want to work with you to keep your business efficient and cost-effective. If you’d like to talk to someone about how to make these simple changes reflect on your P&L, get in touch.
Meanwhile, if you are worried that a drop in investment has left you at risk of less than perfect IT support and exposure to risks, download our Business Continuity Plan checklist: