3 Project Management Tips for the New Year

In 2017, is your company sticking to the way things have always been by just piecing random technology together? Do you have an old IT network that you hope will carry you another year? If this is your company, it’s time for a resolution involving your IT project management.

Establishing a plan will save money and time – two things any good new year’s goal includes. If you don’t know where to start, no problem. Here are three tips for project management that will help you make 2017 your most productive year yet:

Start Somewhere

This one is as simple as it sounds. You can’t conduct IT project management if you have no plan to manage. During this phase, your company should identify its IT needs and goals, then establish a timeline.

Has your mortgage company discovered new accounting software that will save time and money by streamlining multiple applications into one? Without creating a plan, you might just purchase the software, install it, and expect your employees to adapt. If the software is much newer than your computer systems and its user interface isn’t initially intuitive, you might experience decreased productivity.

With a plan in place and proper project management, these situations are completely avoidable. A properly managed project would call for research on the new software first, followed by purchasing and installing new equipment. Training and quality assurance would take place before closing the project.

Don’t Go IT Alone

Project management can be done as a learn-as-you-go process, or by hiring a knowledgeable professional. Too many companies recognize the need to update technology while failing to understand the value of getting it right the first time.

A manufacturing company could have a brilliant plan to install Wave 2 wireless technology, but if the project ends with blazing fast internet for employees and no connection for expensive manufacturing equipment, money and time will dwindle until the problem is solved.

Hiring an IT engineer to oversee a facility’s wireless upgrades drastically minimizes the chance for critical, last-minute fixes. No plans are flawless. But project management done right involves monitoring and adjusting as needed to meet deadlines.

Don’t Wait on Project Management

Every moment your employees spend shouting at their computer because of crashing, their productivity decreases. Each time your Wi-Fi goes down, you lose access to your valuable data on the Cloud. Every time your old hard drives fail, you must find your spare backups and hope they are up to date.

The number of IT problems your office is facing won’t decrease until you start making plans for improvement. Ignoring problems might seem like a good way to save money, but what if these problems are the reason your company doesn’t have money to spare on IT upgrades?

If your 2016 plans for project management consisted of half-measures and quick fixes, but you’re tired of hindered productivity, turn things around in 2017.

Our team at IT Authorities can make your dreams a reality.

Let’s get planning.

Has the daily chore of maintaining your network become a full time job?

There are few more satisfying things you can do in life than to run your own business. The process of building a company from the ground up, offering your skills and services to customers, and providing your staff with employment is highly rewarding, but it can also be extremely stressful. You’re always watching your bottom line, and worrying about cash flow.

As technology plays a bigger role in day to day business, chances are that IT has become one of your biggest expenses. The speed of technological innovation means new software and hardware is launched daily, and if you don’t keep up, you could end up losing out to competitors.

Downtime = Stress

IT can be a huge source of stress, too. When it isn’t working properly, your business faces downtime until things are fixed. And there are so many things that can go wrong with your IT that dealing with them can quickly take up time that you can’t afford to give up. Viruses, malware, drive failures, and bad internet connections all take up time that you could be using to build your business.

Managed Services to the Rescue

Stop the madness, it doesn’t have to be like this. You can hand over the stress of overseeing your IT to a Managed Service Provider (MSP) who can handle all of your tech needs.

An MSP is an outsourcing company that manages all aspects of IT on behalf of another business. So as a business owner you enjoy improved productivity and security, and more time to attend to your own business without having to worry about your network. Best of all, this work is done for a fixed monthly fee, ensuring your IT budget is both predictable and cost-effective.

The alternative is a break/fix solution, in which you call an IT company when something goes wrong. While you’re waiting for them to show up, you’re losing valuable work time. Additionally they are incented to fix the problem not find the root cause of the issue.

IT uptime = Less Stress

There are many reasons why computers start running slowly, and when they do, you’re losing money. Your staff can’t be as productive, work hours are lost and, in some cases, you end up losing clients. Your MSP’s primary job is to make sure your network is running at the best speed possible at all times. They reduce the chore of maintaining your network by monitoring your systems 24×7  and ensure they are free of spyware and viruses, and they can also apply all the necessary upgrades and patches. What’s more, as you have experts overseeing your computers, they are proactive and fix problems before they grow and cause frustrating and expensive downtime.

Reduced Staff costs = Increased Profits

When a company gets to a certain size, the daily chore of maintaining IT systems becomes a full-time job. Utilizing an expensive in-house engineer is not the best use of their time. By contacting an MSP you’ll have a whole team of people, all experts in different areas, working for you. They can supplement the work of your IT team or take over if you don’t have the budget for new employees. Additionally, as your business grows you reduce the cost and hassle of hiring new IT staff.

Enhanced Security

With an experienced MSP provider overseeing your network, you can be sure that your IT is secure and protected with updated virus protection, regularly patched hardware and monitored networks. With data breaches and compliance violations in the news every day, security has gone from a second thought to a vital part of your IT concerns. If you lose data, you could end up facing costly legal repercussions, not to mention losing customers and your hard-earned reputation. Your managed service provider can also help you put together a business continuity and disaster recovery plan so that you are up and running again quickly if your systems are breached or brought down by a failure.

If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of utilizing Managed Services, talk to one of our experts at IT Authorities? We can answer your questions and even arrange for a no obligation IT assessment for your company.

Can your company survive a disaster?

According to the Institute for Business and Home Safety, an estimated 25 percent of businesses do not reopen following a major disaster.

You’ve heard the terms Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery, and Backing Up being thrown around, but what do they really mean? Are they the same thing, can one exist without the other, and how important are they in the small business realm?

Business Continuity (BC) and Disaster Recovery (DR) are not the same thing, but are closely related. They describe a business’s readiness and ability to continue running when faced with a catastrophe that threatens to disrupt normal operations. A good BC/DR plan should take into account not just identified risks, but the possibility of unexpected ones too.

What is Business Continuity?

Business Continuity refers to the planning of the emergency processes that you need to adhere to during, and after, a crisis or challenge. The ultimate goal of a Business Continuity Plan is to make sure that, at the very least, the core functions you need to stay in business are up and running. BC looks at the company as a bigger picture and concentrates on implementing strategies that can override the difficulties that would lead to potential continuity problems and the ultimate downfall of the business.

What is Disaster Recovery?

Disaster Recovery, on the other hand, is more focused on the technological aspect of the organization and aims to retrieve or restore data, servers, and systems to resume operations as quickly as possible.

BC/DR as a unified whole

The two practices are now synonymous with each other due to the vast majority of businesses – from a two-person operation to a large corporation – relying heavily on technology to keep them running. It is essential for the leaders of an organization to synchronize and develop strategies for continuity and recovery in tandem with one another, as opposed to separately. What that means for a small or medium-sized business is that the owner, CEO or operations manager needs to be working with the IT manager or an outsourced Managed Service Provider to cultivate a plan that treats the business as a unified model, not just a collection of fragmented teams. After all, when a crisis strikes your people need more than ever to be working as one, not reacting to the difficult circumstances by operating to different emergency procedures, which may well conflict with each other.

Why are regular backups so critical?

Of course, the foundation of any BC/DR plan is a robust backup strategy. If you are not backing up your data, you have no hope of maintaining continuity in the face of a disaster. The only thing more valuable than your business is the data that keeps you operating and if you’re cutting corners when it comes to the privacy, security and replication of that data you are playing Russian Roulette with the future of your business. And there is more to backing up than many small business owners realize. Tape backups are outdated and can fail so this traditional method of physically storing data is fast becoming outdated, meaning that companies are increasingly turning to other methods, including the cloud and offsite backup facilities, to store their data.

What constitutes a disaster?

When someone says the word ‘disaster’ we conjure up images of Mother Nature’s wrath wreaking havoc on business premises that were in the wrong place at the wrong time: hurricances, tornados, and lightning strikes, or of unfortunate scenarios such as a raging inferno. But disasters usually hit a lot closer to home and, in fact, the majority of extreme data loss unfortunely is caused by employees.

The potential for man-made disaster is huge: a disgruntled staff member steals valuable data and sells it to a competitor or uses it to start his own business; a careless colleague accidentally clicks on an attachment in a spam email and sends a virus ricocheting through your network; an employee leaves their laptop or iPhone in a bar – giving would-be thieves access to all the information you have stored in the cloud. The list goes on.

Everything from your customer data, sales records, marketing materials, stock inventories and so forth are at risk – again highlighting the pressing need for a reliable backup plan that keeps your data secure and makes it easily recoverable if and when disaster strikes. Aside from this, backing up properly will also ensure that you are adhering to the compliance requirements of your industry.

Things to take into consideration when putting a BDR strategy in place

There are so many circumstances that are beyond our control that all of a sudden it becomes crystal clear just how essential properly backing up data plus having a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan in place are. The crucial thing to remember when you start designing a plan is that you need to involve all the members of your organization – everyone has a different part to play and will have different opinions on how a disaster would affect their ability to do their job.

Not only that but you need to plan for today’s eventualities but also for next month’s and next year’s too. Your business is constantly evolving, and that means your plans to ensure its longevity must too.

There are numerous aspects to look at when designing and implementing a BCDR plan and it can be hard to know where to start, so why not talk to the team at IT Authorities? We have a wealth of experience in Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery and offer superior Data Backup Solutions that will give you the best chances of survival.