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Small Things Matter

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Last week, SMR moved to a new office (42 Washington Street, Suite 100, Wellesley, MA 02481). Our previous office was perfectly fine — we had been there more than 14 years. But we had been subletting from a client company that was purchased, so the office space was shut down.

Our new spot is terrific. Still, the act of moving is never fun; we hired a small, local moving company to help with the relocation. It did not occur without some hiccups…

The truth is, all of the “big” things — the things people normally focus on when moving — went very smoothly. Items were securely packed, nothing was broken or left behind, the movers were polite and careful.

But… many small, logistical details were not handled well. For example:

  • They arrived late — they misread the schedule.
  • Half of them initially went to the wrong town — instead of being sent to our office at Gateway Center, they were sent to Gateway Circle in a different town (an hour away).
  • They failed to label our computer monitors — among the eight of us, we have about 25, mostly identical monitors. As of this writing, we are still trying to figure out which ones belong to whom.

When it comes to moving an office, everyone focuses on the big, obvious things. But as we discovered, little things — the kinds of things that are easy to overlook — can be problematic as well.

Within the IT world, this same concept applies. There are a host of small things which, if not paid attention to and done regularly and systematically, can hurt productivity (at best) and cause serious damage to your business (at worst).

Here are five that we recommend keeping an eye on:

#1. Email Settings

I wrote about this last year — Why Your Emails Don’t Always Arrive — so I won’t go into depth again here.

Suffice to say that as simple and easy as email is to use (one of its primary benefits), successfully sending a message from one person to another, and doing so in a secure manner, involves a number of steps, handoffs, and verifications along the way.

If your company relies on email to get work done, you want to ensure you have everything configured properly. Anything less, and important emails — both sent and received — may not arrive as they should.

#2. Software Updates

Updates to commercial software are continually made available. In most cases, whether the updates are implemented or not, the software will continue to work for a long time.

That’s a problem. Software updates may include patches for vulnerabilities, enhancements to speed and performance, bug fixes, or additional features. Failure to ensure updates are occurring promptly and regularly can be harmful.

Make sure you have processes in place to ensure these are happening systematically — for all users, across all platforms.

#3. Data Backup and Retrieval

Several years ago, we had a client that unknowingly moved its QuickBooks data files onto the personal desktop computer of one of its employees. As it turned out, that computer was not being backed up along with everything else in the office. When it failed, we didn’t have a backup (fortunately, we found a manual backup that had been done a few days prior).

Nearly every business performs data backups of some kind. But, as this client discovered, unless you are careful about where your vital data is stored and how backups are occurring, and are performing “restore tests” regularly to assess the process, you may be out of luck if a need arises.

As for how often restore tests should occur, it’s mostly a function of the difficulty and amount of disruption involved. At a minimum, we recommend these be done annually.

#4. Access Removal and Activation

When an employee leaves a company, nobody forgets to stop sending them a paycheck. Sometimes, however, companies forget to take care of things that are less visible, like access to company software, files, and systems.

Even though few people will act maliciously upon leaving a company, simply having active credentials in the possession of former employees (or contractors) increases the likelihood a bad actor will obtain that information and use it at some point in the future.

Make sure you have clear and specific processes in place for shutting down all permissions after someone leaves the company.

Likewise, you also need processes for giving new employees all the permissions they require on the day they begin work: email, VPN access, company CRM, any necessary software particular to their role, etc. The more quickly and completely you can get them set up, the sooner they will begin contributing.

#5. Hardware Disposal

As you upgrade your employees’ devices — laptops, tablets, monitors, printers, cell phones, etc. — you need to do something with the old hardware. For many businesses, that means putting it in a closet somewhere or even tossing it in the trash.

This is a bad idea for a number of reasons. First, because many of these items contain hazardous waste — lead, mercury, chemicals. Second, because some of them contain sensitive data.

Instead, and whether you are required to do so or not through some type of regulatory framework (e.g., SEC, HIPPA, PCI), we recommend working with a certified e-waste recycler (we use Clutec). They will ensure everything is properly and securely destroyed.

Start Now

Among these five things, it’s unlikely any of them will cause a problem today. That’s part of what makes them so difficult to accomplish in the face of everything else you’ve got to manage.

Still, over time, any one of them can cause serious problems. Take steps now to put systems and processes in place to ensure you are taking care of these.

I’ll be sorting through monitors if you need me.

Andrew Cohen

Andrew Cohen

Having a reliable strategic partner in the realm of IT services and solutions is essential for achieving sustained growth through effective technological strategies. Our CEO, Andrew Cohen, is dedicated to helping clients optimize their technology to gain a competitive edge in their industries. At SMR, Andrew leads a team of highly dedicated professionals who are fully committed to providing exceptional IT services and solutions. With his extensive expertise and practical experience, Andrew ensures that clients receive unparalleled support and guidance for their IT projects. You can trust SMR to elevate your business systems and stay ahead in today's fiercely competitive business environment.