In addition to protecting your company's infrastructure, your IT system can also help you avoid unpleasant surprises and maximize employee productivity in tough times. Consider the following checklist to determine where you might be vulnerable or where IT can bolster your business growth even when access to your office is not practical.
- Consider providing employees with access to a virtual private network for remote access. A boon to productivity at times when everything is running smoothly and a major asset in a crisis, a VPN allows employees to work productively and safely offsite. A VPN can also be a lifeline for your business if an unforeseen event occurs by allowing employees to access and control office-based computers.
- Make the most of mobile devices to keep you and your employees in touch during travel. Crises come in many forms - personnel-related health issues or an unexpected disaster will prevent normal access to the office. A smart phone with email, text messaging and Internet access provide all the basics employees need to communicate effectively with their bosses and fellow workers. You might also check into software that can be loaded on a laptop to access office-based computers.
- Create a crisis response plan to protect your business and ensure that critical functions continue in times of trouble. Whether it be a minor disruption caused by relocating your office or an accident that harms workers or the environment, it is critical for the survival of your business that you have a crisis response plan. Your IT system and the efficiency of your wireless and Internet infrastructure will play a key role in facilitating communications within your company and with customers, the media and government officials. If a crisis shuts down your business, a good response plan could be the difference between survival and failure.
Finally, a quick checklist of the things we know are essential but might overlook:
- Have an offsite data storage site and use it. Make backing up data and preparing files for storage offsite a regular activity.
- Put basic IT security systems in place. Have clear policies and be prepared to enforce them.
- Administer new passwords periodically
- Restrict employee access to undesirable websites. Web filtering solutions are affordable. Make sure all employees know your Internet access policies and how you enforce them.
- Use multiple approaches to safeguarding your data and preventing identity theft. These should include: anti-virus, anti-spam, anti-spyware programs for email; up-to-date security systems for servers; and data encryption for email and data files.
- Use the research opportunities the Internet provides to carry out thorough reference checks on all new hires.
It's impossible to plan for every eventuality, but using checklists to "fire-proof" your business will help you sleep more soundly at night.