4 Non-Technical IT Tasks Small Business Owners Can Perform

If you are a business owner, I.T. might be the farthest thing from your mind.  Your focus is on growth, stability, profitability, and taking care of your workforce.  In today’s world, technology can have a huge impact on your business.  More than likely, you have someone handling the I.T. for you, but it doesn’t mean the business owner shouldn’t be aware of what’s going on. Here are 5 non-technical tasks small-business business owners can do to ensure the stability and safety of your technology:

  • Review Access – If you are running a Windows environment with active directory, you can very easily get a list of all users who have active usernames and passwords to your environment from your IT provider. New employees have a user created immediately so they can start working.  Sometimes IT will forget to disable the account of terminated employees.  Reviewing this list once or twice a year to ensure only people working for your company have access to your data will go a long way.

Hackers frequently use these old or unused accounts to gain access into networks.  By taking the time to audit the users on your server, you’ll also be contributing to the security of your data.

  • Ask for Backup Reports – Backups are a critical part of a successful IT strategy.  They become even more important when a failure happens.  When things are working smoothly, you assume the backups are too – until they aren’t and you need them. Ask your IT team to include you on failed backup alerts so you are aware when the backups are not working. Make it a point to review reporting on the success of your backups.  Review the backup plan, and make sure that you are comfortable with the projected recovery times.

Most IT providers or in-house IT staff should be providing a plan and some kind of reporting around backups.  If yours aren’t, ask why.  If it takes months for them to report on backups there is a high chance backups had been consistently failing and they wanted time to get them going again before reporting on them.  This should be a red flag.

  • Drop by The Server Room Occasionally – Making it a point to poke your head in the server room every occasionally. You don’t have to be a technical genius to see if the temperature is getting too hot, if there are things on the floor that don’t look like they belong there, or if old equipment starts to accumulate.  Having a clean server room is a good practice to have because you can see issues more quickly, and troubleshoot issues better.  What this equates to is less downtime so your people can work uninterrupted.

Another couple of things you can look and listen for are amber lights and high-pitched beeps.  Amber lights on servers typically mean that they have a drive failure.  Many servers can have one drive fail and continue to operate.  If a second drive fails before the first one is replaced you could have a long recovery road ahead or potentially lost data.  If you see an amber light on your server report it to your IT immediately.

High-pitched beeping is typically how your UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) tell you that the battery has reached the end of its useful life.  If you hear this beeping, let your IT know so that they can replace the battery in your UPS.  This will allow your network to continue to function for a time in a power outage, and helps protect your equipment from power surges as well.

  • Get Feedback from Your People – Periodically ask your employees if they are frustrated with any of the IT systems.  Ask if they are using a work-around to get their job done.  A common issue I see is an employee who may have a printer close to their desk, but it doesn’t work, so they have to send print jobs to the other side of the office. Yes, they may be getting more steps in, but they aren’t being very efficient.  When you hear of issues like this, address it with your IT people.

This can also be an important view into what the IT experience is like for the rest of your staff.  Business owners frequently get the “white glove” treatment from IT.  Whenever they need something, they’re on it in a flash.  What they don’t realize is that sometimes they are the ONLY one in their organization that receives this kind of service.  Feedback from your team can help make you aware of their experience.

Lastly, these discussions can help shape your workflows to make them more efficient.  I worked with a business owner a while back that owned a company that did commercial fire inspection.  They had a whole bunch of inspectors that would drive around in a truck to customer sites and they would fill out a long inspection report as they walked the building.  All the inspectors would then dump the paper files at the end of the day.  They had a full time employee that would sit and do data entry of these hundreds of inspections.

The owner was talking with one of his inspectors and found out they didn’t like the paper reports.  They asked if there was a way they could do it on an Ipad or something similar.  We helped them put together a fillable PDF form that they could easily email from a tablet and all the paper went away.  The data entry clerk took another position in the company that helped generate more revenue, and the company saved 50K a year in data clerk salary from then on.  Those discussions can be very valuable to business owners.

That concludes our 4 Non-Technical IT Tasks Small Business Owners Can Perform.  If you find yourself without a good IT team to support all the technical know-how, look into i.t.NOW. We might be able to help, (801) 562-8778 x 2 or sales@itnow.net