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Spring clean IT for productivity and financial gains

Having a pragmatic vision about where you want to take your business IT is essential. However, trying to boil the ocean and do everything in one go is never a good idea. You may be able to add more agility to the business by tackling challenges in a phased way, as opposed to a three-year fixed plan, for example. 

Along the way, you can determine what works and what doesn’t. You can do more of the things that boost productivity and cut out the bits that aren’t working. There is no magic wand to fix everything across the board all at once.  

Start with this list of eight things. Think of it as spring cleaning for your organisation’s use of tech. Get a few of them right, or even just one, and you’re winning. 

1. Check your licenses

Are you buying the right software licences for the number of staff you have, and in terms of the functionality you need? Licence coverage changes all the time, with features that were previously part of more expensive licences moving to cheaper ones, which can lead to overlap in functionality. Equally, you may be paying for services or applications you’re not using. A solid audit of what you’re paying for may be an eye-opener for your IT team and CFO, and helpful for your business. If you’re happy that you’re on the right licence, check the features included in it. There may be some useful ones that you are yet to use. 

If you’re a Microsoft 365 user, you can access tools that show you the user adoption rate for the various solutions. If for example, the report shows you that people use Teams every day but rarely touch SharePoint, you can plan to remind them what’s available and educate them if necessary. 

2. Outlaw (or at least reduce) attachments

If your people are sending emails with documents attached, it’s a security risk. But more than this, it’s a classic sign your customs and practices are behind the times – and they’re probably harming your productivity, too.  

Microsoft OneDrive, Teams and SharePoint, for example, offer a far more powerful, flexible and efficient alternative to emails with attachments, and put an end to people hunting for the latest version of a document. Working this way also promotes and encourages collaboration. 

For example, rather than waiting for someone to make changes to an attachment you sent via email, you can send a link that allows you both to edit the document simultaneously (including change tracking if you wish), using comments and markup to speed up the process. Automated versioning means you can always revert to earlier versions if you need to, even if track changes was not in place.  

3. Purge old, irrelevant documents and files

Cleaning up old file storage isn’t a glamorous job, but it could save you money. Many businesses would rather simply pay for more storage than face the tedium and responsibility of deleting old material. But that can lead to a business paying vastly higher than necessary storage fees, hurting the bottom line. Purging old information is also a way of managing risk – you have less to lose and protect – and it pushes down GDPR compliance costs, too. 

From a productivity point of view, a clean, well-organised filing system means your people spend less time trying to locate the files they need – and more time working. 

4. Make the most of reservations

Reserving compute power in advance can save you up to 80% of costs, but you’ll need to be confident about what you need, as well as when you need it. Speak to your IT advisers about the best approach to spend more efficiently in this area. 

Running your IT systems in Microsoft Azure makes reservations a breeze. Firstly, make sure your licensing model is appropriate for your needs. If you can commit to a 12-month term, you’ll save money compared to paying month-by-month. Next, evaluate your Azure workload. If it runs on a predictable schedule, you could use reservations to secure a reduced rate in return for a longer commitment.  

5. Update security

If you have not updated your cybersecurity tools and practices since COVID-19 came along, then you’re vulnerable. Many essential defences have been developed since then, largely in response to a host of new offensive tactics. Take care not to let your new security measures get in the way of people doing work, though. People working from home more, and in more locations, mean increased incidences of lost laptops and old-fashioned home burglary.  

Updating security can be a big job, so break it into pieces. A good place to start is an audit against one of the common frameworks, such as NIST, to help determine security priorities vs. best practice.  

It’s all about having a plan in place. You’ll be glad you took the time to make a plan on the day you actually need it. In addition, you must ensure you can prove you’re taking the appropriate steps to protect your organisation. 

6. Reduce the attack surface of your organisation

If someone in your business doesn’t need access to sensitive or valuable data, they shouldn’t have access privileges. Moves to SharePoint, for example, are points in time when access rights can be reassessed without unnecessary expense or disruption. Once in the cloud, regularly audit files that have been shared externally. Make sure that other external access mechanisms, such as VPN connections, are secured with multi-factor authentication (MFA) if possible and that inactive accounts have been disabled. 

If you still have traditional IT infrastructure like servers or firewalls, perform vulnerability scanning to identify whether there are any services you’ve unwittingly exposed. This will also highlight any ‘low-hanging fruit’ an attacker could use to compromise your security. 

7. Ask your consultants hard questions

You may have slipped into a familiar relationship with your technical advisers, which isn’t a good place to be. Challenge them on new ways of working, and the best processes and technology for data sharing, collaboration, and taking advantage of the cloud.  

Some systems or processes can be improved with minimal expense or disruption – bringing cost savings or productivity gains. Sit down with your managed service provider (if you have one) and get in the weeds of what’s available and how it could help. 

8. Exploit the technology available from cloud

Having your data in the cloud gives you access to technology that was only available to huge companies in the past, and you might already be paying for that facility. Modern cloud applications not only enhance the availability and security of information and data, but typically improve collaboration, with shared access and simultaneous working for an increasingly hybrid workforce. You might start by working with your provider on a roadmap to move to cloud, with an initial study of how your current cloud adoption compares with your peers.

Conclusion

It never does any harm to be more thoughtful and deliberate about how you run the IT in your organisation. In fact, the more time you spend analysing app usage, file storage and cyber security, the more streamlined, productive and secure your business will be. 

At Doherty Associates, we help clients thrive in today’s modern workplace. Our experts set clients up on Microsoft 365, ensuring efficient data migration, robust security and a focus on what is needed. Then, once they’re up and running, we deliver ongoing management, taking care of the tech so you can concentrate on your business. We’re also a Tier 1 Microsoft Cloud Solutions Provider.  

Whether it’s a one-off project or an ongoing, fully-managed service, Doherty helps you securely leverage the latest technology, so you can be more productive. 

To find out more, visit the Doherty services page

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