Technology is the pinnacle of the 21st century, meaning one of the best ways to take your organization to the next level in 2020 is by upgrading your company’s tech. We know small businesses have a tight budget to work with, especially when it comes to IT, but in the long term, tech upgrades are going to pay for themselves by helping your employees accomplish more with less.
By keeping their tech systems upgraded, companies can improve productivity, reliability and cybersecurity, which gives them a competitive advantage and a better overall business performance.
To help you manage tech updates in a time- and cost-effective manner, we put together this comprehensive best-practice guide.
Start by developing an upgrade strategy
Before you start throwing old computers out the window, it is recommended that you begin by developing an upgrade strategy, so that your team can quickly adapt to it. Discuss with everyone and decide when it’s a good time to implement the changes. This way, you can ensure your upgrade period does not slow down your team and become counterproductive.
Before changing anything, make sure you have a backup to count on so that none of your files gets lost. If you are changing laptops or computers, invest in some external hard drives, which employees can use to back up their files and move them on the new device.
Get the latest version of your operating system
If you are running on an old operating system, then it’s time to upgrade to the latest version, so that you still benefit from security upgrades and keep your computers protected.
For example, Microsoft announced at the beginning of this year that they would end support for Windows 7, after more than a decade since it was released. This will happen gradually for all older versions, so if you want to play it safe, your best option is to upgrade to the latest Windows version available; in this case, Windows 10.
If you keep running an old operating system, you leave your devices open to potential security flaws and cyberattacks, which can not only damage your company’s reputation but also cost your business money.
Consider digitalizing your documents
Paper documents do nothing but take up space and limit accessibility, so one important part of giving your business a tech upgrade is going paperless. Gather all your business documents, such as project, accounting and sales files, scan them and upload them on a centralized company server, or the cloud.
Cloud storage is quite inexpensive for the benefits it provides, such as making files available 24/7 to anyone who needs to and helping you backup your data effectively. By getting access to the cloud, your employees have all these documents available from any device that supports an internet connection. For example, if your sales team is out talking to a client, they can review important documents before or during the meeting without the need to download them prior to leaving the office.
By properly organizing your files into folders on the cloud, you can easily manage permissions, so that users can only access documents they are allowed to see.
Upgrade your hardware technology
Computers and peripherals become outdated pretty fast, so if you have been using the same devices for years, it may be time to consider an upgrade. If your hardware is over 5 years old, it may be difficult to find drivers and applications supported by an old computer model, which could lead to reliability issues.
If you are afraid upgrading all your old hardware may exceed your budget, spread the investment over multiple months to make it easier on your funds. Or, better yet, consider rent to own laptops. This type of option allows you to rent the devices you need and, once you get the necessary funds, purchase them. This way, your team benefits from upgraded devices as soon as possible, and you don’t have to worry it will burn a hole in your pocket.
Invest in a reliable, high-speed network
There is no point in having the latest hardware and software available if your internet connection is too poor to let you leverage their full potential. A high-speed internet connection enables you to use modern applications, such as the latest accounting and CRM software, which can become a problem for slow networks. This will allow employees to complete their work in a fast and productive way, without spending too much time on a single task simply because a page won’t load.
A reliable network will also help improve employee collaboration, as your staff can share files and communicate more efficiently. This will remove the need for countless emails or notes that get lost around the office, as they can simply share and access everything in the cloud.
Don’t forget about security
When switching to new tech, your IT team may struggle to identify security issues and implement the proper cyber-safety controls. This is why the best approach you can take is to be proactive and integrate security updates simultaneously with hardware updates.
This way, your cybersecurity team will have a much more effective way to protect your business from data breaches or unwanted eyes peaking at your sensitive files.
Ask employees for feedback
Your employees are the ones using your tech the most, so they are the ones that know if and when something turns out to be counterproductive.
Ask employees to give you feedback once every few months and report immediately if they consider their devices are not functioning properly and may affect their privacy and productivity.
Conduct periodic tech evaluations
If you want to avoid having to upgrade the entire fleet of hardware and software resources at once, start conducting periodic tech audits. These audits help you find out what works properly and what doesn’t and make small upgrades when necessary.
When considering an upgrade, test it with a small batch first and observe if there are any risks to be concerned about. Then, after a short trial period, you can go ahead and expand the upgrade to your entire team.