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In the tech world, it’s easy to overlook the human connections that drive successful business relationships. At Nessit, we believe in the power of partnerships. We know that every client is unique and there are no one-size-fits-all solutions when it comes to IT. That’s why we take the time to really get to know our customers, to learn about their current IT issues and long-term goals. We want to understand a business inside and out before we propose a solution. 

When a Portsmouth, NH engineering firm approached us in late 2022, they had 50 employees and were spending roughly $500,000 annually on their IT. They were unhappy with their current managed service provider, and the systems they had in place weren’t compatible with their organization’s workflow. It was clear to us that a deeper dive into their operations was needed, and a thorough audit confirmed that they were spending far too much on IT. We learned that their previous provider had steered them toward a full migration to the cloud, a cookie cutter approach that isn’t right for every business. Their cloud infrastructure was set up to mirror a traditional office model, which proved ineffective and inefficient. Their work required a very specific approach to IT systems, and we knew that to come up with a solution we had to ask the right questions and get creative. 

We began with an in-depth conversation to understand the challenges they were facing, from both an employee and a management standpoint. This helped us uncover several ways we could help them improve productivity while reducing their spending on tech. This client uses engineering-specific software that allows multiple employees to access and work on the same files and drawings at the same time. These massive files include “parent” files that link to hundreds of other dependencies, which we’ll call “child” files, that pertain to a specific aspect of the project (electrical systems, sprinkler systems, etc.). Their former MSP hadn’t considered file size when setting up the network, and employees were frustrated by the long download times that hampered workflow. 

We also found that some of their existing technology, like project management software, wasn’t being used at all. We recommended that the company purchase engineering grade laptops, and to better leverage their current cloud software including Microsoft 365 which they were already paying for. We worked with them to come up with a more secure, cost-effective storage solution, moving files from an on-prem cold storage server that wasn’t backed up, to SharePoint. Our team reworked the remote management model of future machines, making the onboarding process smoother and faster for new employees. 

The client was also unhappy with the level of customer service they were getting from their provider–a smaller company who had recently been bought out by a large corporation. We assured them that this would never be the case with Nessit. We value personal connections with our clients and cultivate relationships that go beyond the transactional. When our customers get in touch, they already know the person on the other end of the phone. Whether it’s about a technical glitch or a strategic decision, they have a trusted ally ready to offer personalized guidance. 

A commitment to understanding our clients’ unique needs and challenges and designing customized solutions sets Nessit apart. By thinking creatively, we were able to tailor an IT solution that aligned with this engineering firm’s specific needs and goals. As a result of our partnership, the company has been able to save $200,000 a year on technology costs, while at the same time boosting productivity. We were able to leverage, rather than replace, many of their existing tools, and successfully transition to a hybrid model that made more sense for them than the one-size-fits-all fully cloud-based infrastructure. The business has been appreciative of our reliable support, and the peace of mind in knowing we’ll always have their back. We look forward to a long-term partnership and to celebrating their ongoing success. 

For Nessit, IT management is a partnership and our clients’ success is our success. 

If you think your IT could be more cost-effective, structured more efficiently, or you’re looking for better overall support for your team and your business, let’s talk

No matter what industry you’re in, effective IT management is critical to your organization’s success. Day-to-day operations hinge on having an accessible, reliable, and secure IT infrastructure. A failure in just one area can have severe repercussions for your business in terms of productivity, profits, or reputation. Achieving peak performance from your IT systems means more than just investing in the latest technology or services. Forward-thinking companies recognize the importance of having a future-proof IT strategy in place, and both co-managed and fully managed IT services can provide an effective solution for your business.  

So what’s the difference between co-managed and fully managed IT?

Having co-managed IT services will complement your company’s existing IT department and shares responsibility for infrastructure management. An effective provider brings expertise and a wide variety of experience with situations that your in-house team may not have been exposed to. In this collaborative model, your provider shares reporting, pre-configured management and automation tools, documentation, and processes that enhance your in-house team. Co-Managed IT is ideal for organizations looking to augment their existing IT capabilities and team, for businesses seeking help with a transition, and those that require more flexible resource allocation.  

A Fully Managed IT service provider assumes all responsibility for managing, monitoring, and maintaining your company’s IT infrastructure, removing the need for an internal IT department. An advantage to Fully Managed IT is that it provides a single point of contact for your business, eliminating the responsibility of maintaining vendor lists, negotiating pricing, and evaluating technical capabilities for hardware and software purchases. With strategic, long-term planning, your service provider will make sure that your technology can scale as your business grows, and that systems are optimized to support your business goals. Ideal for smaller companies, a Fully Managed service allows you to focus on your core business, and cuts the costs associated with employee training, salaries, benefits, and office space. IT expenses are predictable and can be budgeted for with Fully Managed services, reducing costly surprises.  

Shared Benefits of Co-Managed and Fully Managed IT Services

Proactive Maintenance and Updates – Your service provider will ensure that your network and infrastructure are always up to date and that new technology is integrated seamlessly. As a strategic partner, they can offer unbiased advice about technology upgrades and investments to better support your business goals. The service will also take a proactive stance, actively monitoring and addressing potential IT issues before they escalate.  

24/7 Monitoring and Compliance – Around the clock monitoring means problems are identified and resolved promptly, reducing the chance of downtime and lost productivity. A Managed Service provider will implement robust cybersecurity measures and data recovery planning to ensure business continuity in an emergency. For clients operating in industries with data compliance requirements, a provider will make sure standards regarding privacy, reporting, and security are strictly followed.  

With technology evolving at an accelerated pace, effective and efficient IT management is more important than ever. Both Co-Managed and Fully Managed IT offer distinct advantages and the choice depends on your organization’s unique needs, goals, and existing infrastructure. Whether you opt for Co-Managed or Fully Managed IT Services, your provider will ensure that your technology is up-to-date, secure, and aligned with your organizational objectives. 

If you’re still not sure what option is best for you, let’s talk! We’ll meet your company where you are today, and help you grow.  

Your business relies on digital technology, and as cyberthreats evolve and become more advanced, protecting your data with proactive, robust security measures has never been more important. A data breach can have a catastrophic effect on your company’s finances, productivity, and reputation, and may involve legal repercussions if industry regulations have been violated. Many of the threats businesses need to guard against originate in the internet realm known as the “Dark Web,” a breeding ground for criminal activity and a marketplace for stolen data. 

The “Surface Web” that we all frequent is made up of public websites with indexed information accessible by search engines. There, internet use is tracked (via cookies and other methods) to create a “digital footprint” unique to each user. This footprint contains identifying information about online behavior, including geographical location and browsing history. Most of the tracked data is legally obtained and utilized for targeted marketing purposes. Hence, your online search for a particular sneaker results in a barrage of sneaker ads that follow you across multiple platforms. 

What exactly is the Dark Web and what kind of information is available there?

The Dark Web is made up of encrypted sites that are only accessible using special software, providing a platform for anonymous–and often illegal–communication and transactions. This aptly named corner of the internet is home to scores of botnet servers responsible for Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, identity theft, phishing scams, and spam emails, and serves as a repository for the illegally-obtained information. The data available for purchase on the Dark Web ranges from personally identifiable information (PII) like names, birth dates, and Social Security numbers, to financial data, like online banking passwords and stolen credit cards, to medical data that includes patient prescription history and test results, to confidential corporate data such as Intellectual Property (IP), patents, and other proprietary information. 

If your businesses login credentials are circulating on the Dark Web, you’re at risk. Login information opens the door to unauthorized access of your networks and systems, where cybercriminals may steal data for resale and infect computers with malware that can cripple operations. 

Is my business at risk?

Small-to-medium sized businesses, who may not prioritize cybersecurity–are especially vulnerable to attacks that can expose employee credentials and sensitive company data on the Dark Web. Studies show that 123456 continues to be the most commonly-used password. Other weak passwords that incorporate names, birthdates, or other personal details are easily cracked using one of the widely available password-cracking tools. No matter the size or nature of your business, if you’re online you’re at risk and should take precautions to prevent data theft. Often smaller companies lack the personnel or expertise to properly safeguard sensitive data, and this is where using a managed IT service can be invaluable to your business. 

How do I know if company information is already on the Dark Web?

Managed IT services have tools available that will conduct a scan of the Dark Web to determine if your company’s data has been compromised. If employee credentials or other sensitive information is found on the Dark Web, there’s no way to tell whether it’s already been copied or sold, so removal doesn’t remove risk. The first step to mitigate the impact of a breach is to immediately make the stolen information irrelevant. This means changing all company passwords, and implementing second factor authentication or using a secure password manager. Weak or reused passwords are the most common vulnerability that criminals exploit. Managed IT services can help your business manage damage control, implement security protocols, and safeguard against future data breaches.

What can I do to protect my business from cyberattacks?

Employee Education

The first line of defense for every business is education, and its importance cannot be overstated. Comprehensive training to make sure employees understand the tactics used in data theft–including phishing scams and social engineering–is crucial, as is emphasizing the importance of password protection. Teaching employees at every level of your organization how to recognize and avoid potential cyberattacks will go a long way toward safeguarding your data.

Secure Devices

With many employees now working remotely, individual devices also pose a security risk. Your IT service will ensure that all devices connected to your network, including desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and phones, are protected with endpoint security solutions like antivirus software, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems. Employees should be educated about the use of secure wifi networks, VPNs, and encrypted communication to keep company information safe. 

Access Control and Monitoring

Another priority is the implementation of strict access control. Define which employees can access sensitive data like financial information or customer records, based on their job roles and responsibilities. Even with these controls in place, round-the-clock monitoring is essential in order to catch any suspicious activity. 

Proactive Prevention and Rapid Response

An IT management service can provide ongoing Dark Web monitoring that will routinely scan illicit platforms in search of your company data. This is a complex process that is best left to trained professionals, as accessing the Dark Web can unintentionally lead to increased security risk. Should a breach be detected, your service provider will have a rapid response plan in place to address potential problems before they can escalate into a crisis.

Don’t wait until your company’s sensitive information becomes a commodity on the Dark Web. The long term damage to your business from a data breach far outweighs the cost and effort involved to prevent one. We live in an age where robust and proactive security measures are essential in protecting your data. Partnering with a professional IT management service will provide peace of mind with the knowledge that all your bases are covered. 

Architectural firms have unique IT needs, and rely on specialized software and applications, large data storage, and seamless connectivity. Employees working in-office and remotely need to be able to access, share, and collaborate on files, blueprints, schematics, and 3D models. Managing your network infrastructure can be a time-consuming and complex task, and unforeseen IT issues can have serious consequences in terms of diminished productivity, disrupted deadlines, data loss, and compromised security.  

Managed IT services can provide myriad benefits for architectural firms.  

Customized IT Solutions 

Every architecture firm is unique and IT needs may vary. In an industry that requires highly specialized software, large file storage, and CAD support, a Managed IT services provider with experience in the field of architecture and building design is invaluable, offering custom tailored solutions to meet your firm’s specific needs.  

Streamlined Operations

The architecture industry demands precision and efficiency. By outsourcing IT management, firms can streamline operations, reduce downtime, and ensure that teams have access to the resources they need. This translates into greater efficiency and allows architects to concentrate on their core competencies without getting bogged down by IT issues. 

Enhanced Cybersecurity 

Protecting sensitive client information, intellectual property and proprietary design plans is essential to your business. Managed IT services provide robust cybersecurity measures, including firewalls, antivirus software, and threat detection monitoring, ensuring that valuable data is secure. 

Proactive Maintenance and Support 

Rather than waiting for issues to arise, a Managed IT services provider takes a proactive approach to maintenance and support. Regular system updates, software patches, and preventative measures will be implemented to address potential problems before they impact daily operations. Round-the-clock monitoring means issues are addressed promptly, minimizing downtime and providing a stable and reliable IT environment. 

Cost-Effective Solutions 

Managing an IT department in-house can be financially burdensome, particularly for smaller architecture firms. Managed IT services offer a cost-effective solution, with a predictable payment schedule, your business can budget effectively, strategically allocate resources, and avoid unexpected IT expenses.  

Improved Communication and Collaboration 

Architectural design demands effective collaboration. Managed IT services ensure that your team has access to seamless communication tools, file-sharing capabilities, and real time collaboration platforms, whether working in the same office or remotely. 

Data Backup and Recovery 

It goes without saying that data loss can have devastating consequences for architectural firms. Managed IT services include comprehensive data backup and a robust recovery strategy to protect critical files and avoid disruption to operations.  

Compliance and Regulation 

Following regulations regarding client confidentiality and data privacy is essential for architecture firms, both to meet legal obligations and maintain client trust. Managed IT service providers understand industry-specific compliance standards and will ensure that your business adheres to them. 

An efficient, secure, and accessible IT system is critical to your company’s success and effective management and monitoring is an often-complex task. Among the many IT challenges architectural firms face is integrating the latest technology into existing infrastructure, performing proactive maintenance, and ensuring security, compliance, 24/7 monitoring, and ongoing management. This is where Managed IT services can help, by providing customized, comprehensive IT solutions that allow you to focus on what you do best and position your business for success. 

In this technology-driven landscape, businesses rely on their IT infrastructure to function efficiently and effectively. Organizations large and small face the same complex challenge: how best to maintain IT infrastructure, ensure security, and stay on top of technology trends. The decision comes down to two options: in-house IT teams or managed IT services.  

Here’s why managed IT services may be the best choice for your business. 

IT Expertise and Specialization

Managed IT service providers are experts in their field. By outsourcing IT management, you gain access to a team of professionals with diverse skills and expertise in IT infrastructure, cybersecurity, software, and hardware. The collective knowledge and experience of an IT management team makes them better able to troubleshoot issues, provide timely solutions, and implement the latest technologies. 

IT Cost Efficiency

Building and managing an in-house IT department is expensive. The costs associated with hiring, salaries and benefits, training, and retaining IT staff, as well as investing in hardware and software, can strain your budget. Managed IT services typically offer cost-effective, scalable solutions, with predictable pricing that allows you to pay only for the services you need.

24/7 Monitoring and Support

IT issues don’t always happen during business hours. Your business must always be operational, and downtime can be costly. Managed IT service providers offer 24/7 support, ensuring that your systems are continually monitored for potential problems. Having a team available round-the-clock will ensure that issues are resolved swiftly, minimizing disruptions to your business operations. 

Proactive Maintenance

It goes without saying that preventing IT issues is usually less costly than dealing with the aftermath. Along with monitoring to identify potential problems before they impact operations, managed IT services provide proactive maintenance, applying software updates, patches, and security measures to keep your systems running smoothly. 

Security and Compliance

As cyberattacks become ever more sophisticated, businesses face a greater risk of data breaches. Managed IT service providers stay on top of the latest cybersecurity threats and will implement robust cybersecurity measures to protect your business. They’re also well-versed in industry-specific regulations and will ensure your business complies, protecting you from potential legal issues. 

Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity

Managed IT services provide robust disaster recovery and business continuity plans. They’ll ensure that your data is regularly backed up and can be quickly recovered in the event of an unexpected catastrophe, minimizing disruption to your business operations. 

IT Scalability

Managed IT services are flexible and scalable. They can adapt to your business’s changing needs, whether you’re expanding, downsizing, or implementing new technology. Businesses are not static; they grow and evolve and your IT support should grow with you.

Focus on Core Business Competencies

By outsourcing your IT needs, your business can concentrate on its core competencies. Rather than getting bogged down with IT issues, your company can direct its energy toward innovation, product development, marketing, and serving your customers. Using a managed IT service allows you to allocate more time and resources to what you do best.

Access to the Latest Technology

Managed IT service providers stay up-to-date with the latest technological advancements. They can recommend and implement innovative solutions to give your business a competitive edge and improve efficiency. This access to cutting-edge technology is a significant advantage in a rapidly evolving marketplace.

Peace of Mind

Having a team of dedicated experts handle your IT infrastructure will provide peace of mind. Knowing that your systems are monitored, maintained, secure, and optimized for your business means you can focus on your business goals. 

Managed IT services provide a range of advantages for businesses large and small. They are cost effective, offer 24/7 support, and focus on proactive maintenance, allowing your company to focus on its core business. With scalable solutions and access to cutting-edge technology, they’ll ensure that your business can grow and remain competitive. You’ll have peace of mind, knowing that your managed IT provider is focused on security, data backups, and has a business continuity plan in the event of a catastrophe. In today’s constantly evolving digital landscape, trusting a team with expertise and experience to manage your IT infrastructure is a strategic choice that will enable your company to thrive. 

As cyberattacks become increasingly sophisticated, it’s more important than ever to safeguard your digital front lines. Any business, no matter how small, is a potential target for hackers. In fact, smaller businesses are often less invested in security, and therefore more vulnerable. Preventing an attack is far less costly than dealing with the aftermath. Human error is the cause of more than 80% of cybersecurity breaches, with the cost to businesses worldwide growing by more than a trillion dollars a year. This includes direct financial loss, destruction of data, theft of intellectual property, lost productivity, restoration costs, and reputational damage. 

Here are the most common cybersecurity threats, and the proactive measures your business can take to avoid them. 

Insider Threats 

Employees are both the first line of defense against cyber-attacks and the most common cause of security breaches. Insider threats – whether intentional or not – can pose significant risks to your business. Creating an internal culture that prioritizes security is essential to combat threats that target your employees. Every business should conduct comprehensive training sessions on best practices for security and the potential consequences of cybercrime. Employee education should include training about using secure and unique passwords for every account, two-factor authentication, and the importance of reporting suspicious activity. Make sure your team really understands the role they all play in keeping your entire company safe.  

Make sure your IT professionals monitor network activity for unusual or unauthorized behavior and implement strict controls to restrict employees’ access to sensitive information based on their roles. This is even more important if your company supports remote work and/or has employees who use mobile devices for business purposes. It’s smart to use mobile device management solutions which allow you to control access, enable device encryption, and remotely wipe devices that are lost or stolen.  

If your business collaborates with third-party vendors and suppliers, don’t be afraid to ask them about their cybersecurity practices. You can even include language in your agreements or contracts regarding security requirements to stay vigilant about potential risks introduced by your supply chain. 

Phishing

Phishing – when an attacker attempts to gain access to personal information by posing as a legitimate contact – is the most common cybersecurity threat, responsible for 90% of all data breaches. Phishing most often takes the form of an email that appears to come from a trusted source, providing a link to click asking for a user’s credentials (username, passwords, etc) or a request to download a file. The attacker can then use the information to access the company network and steal sensitive data, or to install malware on the victim’s computer.  

Cybercriminals are adept at using social engineering to manipulate “weak links” within an organization into divulging sensitive information. One such technique is spear phishing, a targeted version of phishing where the fraudulent email is personalized for a single recipient. 

Users should be taught how to recognize and avoid phishing attempts using the following guidelines: 

  • If an email looks suspicious, do not open it and report it immediately. 
  • Don’t click on unverified email links and don’t open attachments from unknown senders.  
  • Don’t give out your login credentials to anyone. If you receive a request to change your password, verify the source first. 
  • Use unique passwords for everything and avoid using names, birthdates or other easy-to-guess information. A random password generator is the safest bet.   
  • Use two-factor authentication. 

Ransomware

A ransomware attack is when your company’s data is held hostage in an attempt to extort payment. This is done by installing malware that encrypts an organization’s data and makes it inaccessible until the ransom is paid. A computer can be infected with malware delivered via email or websites and the user may not be aware that their data has been compromised until it’s too late. Businesses that fall victim to ransomware face not only data theft, but lost productivity, damaged reputations, and potential lawsuits. 

To protect against ransomware, establish a robust backup system, and an IT recovery plan to ensure critical data can be restored quickly in the event of an attack. Your business should have endpoint protection solutions that can detect ransomware and mitigate threats. These solutions go beyond standard anti-virus software to secure “endpoint” devices like laptops, phones, and IoT-connected smart devices, blocking unauthorized applications, employing encryption, and allowing centralized IT monitoring. This is especially important as remote work becomes the norm and the number of endpoint devices increases. Any device with a network connection is a potential entry point for ransomware and may be targeted by cybercriminals.  

And once again, educating employees on security best practices is essential to prevent ransomware attacks. Ongoing training about the use of strong passwords, not clicking suspicious links in emails, and not opening files from unknown sources remains the simplest and most effective way to protect your business.  

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)

DDoS attacks work by flooding a network, service, or website with excessive traffic in order to cause business disruption and costly downtime. This can result in problems accessing your website, slow or unresponsive servers, and error messages. IoT devices with default logins or weak security protections are particularly vulnerable to attack, which can then spread to compromise and control other devices on the network. This group of infected devices forms a robot network, or “botnet.” Botnets can be controlled by a single source and used to carry out large-scale attacks. In addition to crippling operations, DDoS attackers may attempt to extort payment in return for stopping the attack. 

Network administrators should make sure all devices are secure, and closely monitor network traffic. DDoS protection services can be employed to detect abnormalities and identify and filter out illegitimate traffic before the server is overwhelmed. Distribute resources across multiple servers and locations to ensure that a single point of failure can’t bring down your entire infrastructure. 

So What Should Your Business Do?

Be proactive by implementing robust security strategies. Create comprehensive employee training to protect sensitive information and maintain the trust of customers and business partners. Partner with a Managed IT firm who will have your back every step of the way.  

Remote Readiness in the 2020’s

The arrival of our new decade — and the pandemic that came shortly after — changed where and how we all work. That change came far more rapidly than any of us could have imagined.  

While the businesses with mature IT systems were able to weather the storm with relative ease, many businesses with less mature IT systems were forced to make drastic changes without being afforded the luxury of time to research and plan for the transition.  

As a result, many businesses were effectively forced to overpay for IT solutions that didn’t quite suit their needs.  

What is IT Maturity?

IT Maturity is about how effective and efficient a company’s IT systems are in relation to their people, products and processes. A company who follows best practices, understands the full landscape of their IT systems, and regularly invests in their technology would be seen as having mature IT systems.  

How To Be Remote Ready

At Nessit, we take remote readiness extremely seriously. As the IT partner for each of our clients, we are only as successful as our least successful remote team.  

Having successfully managed this transition to remote work for countless clients and for Nessit itself, we know a thing or two about remote readiness.  

For example, we helped a client with a desktop-only environment develop a mature IT system tailored to their specific needs which would allow for secure remote access into existing desktop infrastructure.  

This enabled the client to save ~$30,000 in upfront capital expenditures and a further ~$2,000 per month in recurring management costs. Over the course of the next 5 years, that amounts $150,000 in cost savings for a system that perfectly suited their needs.   

Another client had an IT system set up to accommodate team members working onsite from two separate offices. This client had no plans to move towards remote work; as such, they had previously been putting most of their IT budget towards on-premise enhancements.  

We were able to help them seamlessly transition to 100% remote work with minimal additional upfront capital expenditures by guiding them towards long-term cloud-based investments in their IT systems to allow for enhanced current and future use.  

For those unaccustomed to managing a remote workforce or simply seeking to streamline an immature or bloated incumbent IT solution, preparing for remote work — or even knowing what questions are most important — can seem like a daunting task.  

Here are the questions we ask when helping any company find the mature IT solution that best suits their needs for remote work. Asking these questions is a great place to start to ensure your team remains productive, efficient, streamlined, and collaborative, so that your business can weather any storm.  

Can I Run My Business Remotely, Today?

The first question is to determine which of the following three categories your business currently falls within.  

  • Assumptive Yes: We planned for this! We still have some questions, but are feeling confident. 
  • Maybe?: Some staff may be able to work remotely, but many are not. We’re not totally sure.  
  • Not Even Close: Remote work doesn’t fit our business model. 

If your organization is a maybe, or a not even close, ask yourself the following questions: 

Have I determined which staff members or roles can work remotely, those that can’t work remotely, and those where remote work might be possible with some changes? 

These will depend on your business and your employees. There are solutions available that allow for almost anyone to be able to work remotely, but given other business considerations, they may not make sense for you.  

Does my team have a plan in place to address systems and equipment needs of employees who may not be set up to work from home? Can employees use their personal computers?  

A great rule of thumb here is to refer to your office IT policy. If employees are not currently allowed to use personal devices on the company network, it shouldn’t be allowed at home.  

Does my team have a secure, unified video conferencing & collaboration platform to use?  

Which functionalities are “nice to haves” and which are “can’t function without it?” 

It is important that employees are able to collaborate as easily when remote as they were when it was as simple as popping into a neighboring office. The functionalities your business will need for that may be unique; seeking input from key employees can be very useful here.  

Will my company data be safe outside the office? Have we implemented two-factor authentication for sensitive applications? 

Do all devices that will be used remotely have the latest version of their operating software, security software, and line of business applications?  

Do my remote employees have access to and know how to use a business grade VPN? Have I purchased enough licenses for all the employees working remotely?  

Has my team been educated about being aware of phishing and other attacks that may take place?  

Does my company have a plan in place to regularly check in with remote staff to confirm they’re comfortable working remotely and have the tools they need?  

Unfortunately, the malevolent actors out there only become more and more sophisticated. It’s important to ensure employees are up to date as well, because the consequences of a breach can be quite severe. 

If you are in an industry with higher than usual security requirements, making sure you understand and currently comply with those requirements needs to come first and foremost.  

Each organization needs to determine what level of security is right for them in order to adequately protect company data when employees access it and work on their home WiFi, in coffee shops, and in public workspaces.  

For some organizations, Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, are a sufficient solution when paired with two-factor authentication. Other organizations with more stringent security requirements may need device level software firewalls and/or intrusion detection and centralized reporting.  

Have I ensured there are backups of our servers  so staff can keep working when extra network traffic causes primary servers to go down? Do employees know where to backup data to ensure business continuity in the event of device failure.  

No one ever plans on a network going down or devices failing, but even so, the consequences of not being prepared for these contingencies dwarfs the cost of putting them in place.  

Does my company have guidelines in place for remote employees, including proper use of company assets and security guidelines? Does my team know about them?  

If you are only beginning the transition to remote work, such guidelines may not be formalized. Formal guidelines will provide employees with clarity about what is and is not acceptable and very well may help preempt major headaches down the road.  

Is my IT infrastructure and network designed to handle increased remote traffic?  

While your network may seem to be working just fine when everyone is onsite, changes in the demand placed on your network by a remote workforce can impact the overall functionality of your network.  

For example, when everyone is in the office, there are no restrictions on download or upload speeds. But for remote employees, the best possible download speed becomes limited to the speed of an office file upload.  

Even if fractional differences in speed don’t seem that significant, employees cannot possibly be as efficient as they could be if they are constantly waiting for things to load.  

That can be exacerbated when there are numerous programs running that occupy significant RAM. If an employee has Zoom, Teams, Excel, and other role-specific software constantly running, that employee may be spending a lot more time twiddling their thumbs than we’d like to realize.  

Have I reviewed and confirmed that existing policies and customer agreements allow us to work remotely when feasible, prudent, and contractually admissible?  

So, are you Remote Ready?

Download our checklist to share with your team.

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For your business to stay competitive, establishing an effective and efficient IT budget is essential. It goes without saying that your business depends on technology to survive, but your budget is also a tool to optimize available funding and allocate it in a way that supports your overall IT strategy. Budgeting effectively will save time and money spent on unplanned IT needs that inevitably arise in the absence of a transparent and well-thought-out plan. The process of creating a budget should help you identify deficiencies and reduce waste, as well as forecast, prioritize, and justify strategic IT expenditures. Your budget shouldn’t just be an IT “wish list.” It should serve as a blueprint to ensure funding for initiatives that align with your company’s long-term goals. 

So how do you go about creating an IT budget? 

Identify Your IT Inventory

Efficient budgeting begins with a comprehensive assessment of your current IT resources, including an inventory of hardware, software, network infrastructure, services, subscriptions, and staffing. Identifying your existing resources (along with your technical debt) is fundamental to budgeting for the future. Previous budgets can serve as a baseline and a tool–learn from the past, but don’t be afraid to make changes to support evolving business goals.  

Set Clear IT Objectives

Now that you have a clear picture of what you have to work with, it’s time to establish your IT objectives. What do you want your technology to achieve in the coming year and beyond? Your objectives might include enhancing cybersecurity, upgrading hardware, improving customer support systems, or implementing new software. A careful examination of previous years’ budgets likely brought to light areas of overspending and technical debt. Setting clear objectives will make it easier to trim fat and allocate funds more effectively.  

Prioritize and Justify IT Initiatives

Which IT investments are essential and which are nice-to-haves? Are there significant projects in the coming year that require technology upgrades or additional IT support? Spending should be prioritized to reflect the objectives you’ve set. Be prepared to clearly communicate your IT strategy, its impact, and the projected ROI of your initiatives. Present a cohesive plan and be able to articulate how your proposed budget will support overall business goals.  

Allocate Resources To IT

Divide your IT budget into categories, beginning with ongoing expenses. This should include the following: 

  1. Hardware: servers; computing equipment, for in-office and remote workers; and network infrastructure
  2. Software: subscriptions, licenses, and support contractss
  3. Personnel: both employees and outsourced staff, and expenses related to recruitment
  4. Security: cybersecurity should be a significant component of your IT budget. Security threats are ever-evolving, so allocate funds for regular security assessments, employee training, and the implementation of robust security tools. 
  5. Training: employee training is often the first thing to go when budgets get cut, but knowledgeable employees are essential to maximize the value of your tech investments.  

Your project-specific expenses should also be outlined in the same way, including any consulting fees, contract staff, and administrative costs, along with additional office space, hardware, and software required. Be realistic about costs and allow some wiggle room for unexpected expenses that may arise. Identify future investments needed to support your overall IT strategy. Leave room in your budget for scalability, including necessary upgrades and expansion of IT support staff. 

We coach our customers on the 2-3% rule for IT budgeting. If you are trying to maintain a steady state, budget 2% of your top line revenue to go toward IT. If you are looking to grow, changing business strategies or preparing for a large change in your company, budget 3%. Of that 3%, ~50% should go toward managed services and labor and ~50% on cloud licenses, your internet service provider and new hardware. 

Leveraged Managed IT Services

Outsourcing some of your IT needs to managed IT service providers can help control costs and ensure you have access to expert support when needed. Proactive monitoring and network maintenance will reduce unexpected spending and provide peace of mind.  

Budgeting for IT isn’t just about managing expenses. It’s about investing strategically to drive business growth and improve efficiency. Your budget ensures that your technology aligns with your business goals. A well-structured IT budget is your roadmap, and a vital tool for success in the digital age. 

Running a business means having a lot of plans – business plans, marketing plans, growth plans – but what about a business continuity plan? Your business continuity plan includes details on what you do if something goes wrong at your business. This could range from natural disasters to cyberattacks to hardware failures. You want to be prepared for anything that could go wrong, which will save you time and money in the long run.  

When it comes to your IT systems and data, having a solid business continuity plan helps you deal with issues when they arise and keeps your business on track. We know most people don’t think about their IT systems on a daily basis (except us) until it breaks down. And when that happens, what do you do?  

What Happens When IT Systems Fail?

As a business owner, do you know what steps to take if your IT systems suddenly aren’t working the way they should?  

Think about it:  

  • If your file server goes down and no one has access to company files, do you know what to do? 
  • Do you have a plan in place if one of your remote staff suddenly quits, and you need to retrieve your company equipment?  
  • How do you recover if someone on your team falls victim to a phishing scam and your company experiences a cyberattack?  

You may be thinking, there’s such a small chance of any of this happening that you’ll just deal with it if it ever happens. You can absolutely take that chance. But while you’re dealing with it when it does happen, your business will be at a standstill. You may not have access to your company data, finances, files, email, and more.  

Having a business continuity plan in place means you’ll know who to call, what to do, and how long it will take to get back up and running. You’ll know exactly what to do, and exactly what to tell your employees and your customers / clients.  

What does a business continuity plan include? 

1. Inventory of equipment and IT systems – Understanding the full scope of your IT systems is a crucial step to creating a business continuity plan. 

2. Threat analysis and risk assessment – Depending on what type of business you have, threats come from different directions. Knowing where those threats and risks may come from is necessary to create mitigation and recovery plans.  

3. Mitigation activities and strategies – There are steps your business can take to reduce risk (like providing cybersecurity training for employees), which may be required to get insurance coverage. 

4. Data backup and recovery plans – Having regular backups of your data can help get your business back up and running quickly if you lose access or data is accidentally deleted. 

5. Alternate work locations – One silver lining of COVID was the way companies adapted to a fully remote workforce. In your continuity plan, define alternative work locations for your employees to ensure your customer is taken care of. For those requiring physical plant, this may be developing key relationships within your industry to set up shop temporarily. 

6. Contact information for key personnel, suppliers, and IT teams (like us!) – Knowing who is in charge of your various IT systems and who to call will help expedite the process to get your business back on track after an issue.  

Once you create your plan, put it to the test! Once a year, spend a day scenario planning. QuickBooks has stopped working and all company financial data is missing. You realize someone or something has deleted the ‘Finance’ folder from your server. Was this an accident or is my business in the middle of a cyberattack? 

Most of the businesses we work with are not experts in IT, and that’s where we come in. We can help you create and implement a business IT continuity plan for in-house and remote teams. We can be your IT partner to ensure your systems stay up and running, and we’ll take care of your business if and when those systems go down.  

Let’s chat about your IT needs!