Use Slow Business Time to
Update and Streamline Your Systems
by Lynne Lawrence, president, USNet
Many companies are experiencing revenue and
operational slowdown due to the sluggish economy plus the natural
end-of-year business cycle. Rather than losing valuable productivity
to these factors, take this time to review your information-technology
infrastructure. You could save resources long-term by investing
your time near-term. This does not have to be a cost-intensive proposition.
In fact, we advise our clients that taking such proactive, streamlining
procedures now will save them money and hassle in the
long run. Using in-house or contracted expertise to help guide the
process, we recommend that all companies follow these five steps
to maximize IT resources:
First, companies must review their current hardware
and software. To do this, we suggest having a qualified technician
review your systems to ensure all of your company workstations are
operating optimally. If this review locates deficiencies, upgrade
your system to improve performance. The two most common culprits
resulting in poor performance, RAM and disk space, are inexpensive
and fairly painless to upgrade.
Second, we recommend that companies do a little
file system "housekeeping." Just as you would periodically
purge and organize traditional paper files, you need to defragment
("defrag") your companys complete network and its
individual workstations on a scheduled basis. This simple process
reorganizes a hard disks essential operating and supporting
software, greatly enhancing system performance. Defragmenting a
hard disk groups like files and programs together, limiting resource-crunching
and time-costly data searching across data storage devices. Another
step is the compression of files and preventive maintenance on all
peripherals. Dont forget to look for software upgrades on
all of your companys hardware and software. Outdated drivers
often result in lower-than-peak performance data-transfer rates
as well as a poor exchange between the individual devices composing
an IT hardware and software network.
Third, companies should review their operations
and procedures, and the role IT plays in these processes. Your IT
systems won't be efficient if they're based on outdated and/or archaic
practices and procedures. Prevent wasted space or lack of integration
by implementing a more automated, reliable and IT-friendly system-wide
operation. This creates a seamless synergy of hardware and software
into an existing operations foundation.
Fourth, we advise companies to conduct IT-focused
customer reviews. Consult with your customers to uncover any problems
they perceive in your current systems or any improvements they would
like to see. If your customers are local, invite them in for a system
demo and ask for their feedback. They will appreciate that you value
their opinion and want to improve operating efficiencies with them.
In addition, customers may come up with ideas for improvements that
you are simply too close to the problem to see for yourself. For
example, is your customer relationship management (CRM) system lacking
applications that could substantially increase its performance,
or does your Web site e-commerce tool and related graphical user
interface (GUI) need to be more user-intuitive?
Finally, memorize the three most important rules
of IT maintenance: Back up, back up, back up. The time and expense
it takes to establish a regular at least daily complete
system back-up procedure is only a fraction of the time and expense
(not to mention pain) you might incur if you do not back up regularly.
Many cost-effective, off-the-shelf back up programs are readily
available, complete with solid customer support from the software
manufacturer. Even if you need to have a program custom-written
for your company, it will pay for itself many times over in the
event of a data disaster.
a 15-year-old company based in Santa Ana, Calif., provides a network
of expert technicians throughout the United States and Canada. The
company is a one-stop shop for business site cabling, hardware installation
and service. President Lynne Lawrence can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (714) 571-4613.
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