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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 piecemeal 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 licenses for the number of staff you have, and in terms of the functionality you need? License coverage changes all the time, with features that were previously part of more expensive licenses 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 license, check the features included in it. There may be some useful ones that you are yet to use.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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 Cyber Essentials, to help determine security priorities vs. best practice.
  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.
  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.
  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. Click here to find out more.

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