What is the most powerful resource in your company? Would you rather live without your copier or your computers? How about a key employee vs no computers? Phones vs. Computers?
No matter your answers, there is no doubt that computers are the powerhouse engines of most firms. Now imagine this core engine for your entire business was 20% less effective, misfiring, slow, and finicky? Or imagine it’s 20% more effective and runs like a fighter jet? How would either affect your staff’s productivity? Security? Quality of product? Efficiency? Ease of work?
So let’s do a quick and easy strategic health check! Turn that 1984 Pinto into a Ferrari!
Are users waiting on their computers? If they wait just 10% of the time, that is 200 hours per year of lost productivity! 200 hours!
Ever hear employees saying they get a cup of coffee while their computer boots? Are they frustrated when things run slow?
Do you keep a spare functional computer in the office? Computers die… unexpectedly. The last thing you want to do is run out to buy one when (not “if”) one dies. You have a staff member dead in the water. Plus, almost all locally sold computers are really home/residential models. Even the ones sold at “Office” Depot are really home computers. So because you were in a rush, you are stuck for years with a horrible computer that had to be upgraded to work on the network and with no support. Ugh!
We recommend that next time you buy a new computer to replace a working computer, keep the working computer in inventory! It may be slow but (1) it will let the user get by until a GOOD new one arrives and (2) it usually is preloaded with most of what you use in the company.
The bigger the firm, the more “warm spares” you should have. This really minimized downtime, reduces stress and allows you to get a proper replacement.
We’re lucky! These days internet is blazing fast and cheap if you know where to look. But it isn’t just your connection, there are small tweaks you can do that boost performance. For example, you can have a fast connection but if your “DNS” is poor, it takes a while to find web pages. There is also something called Latency that effects certain thinks like phone quality and remote access issues.
What about if (when!) the internet goes down. Is it worth having a failover internet connection? If internet is vital to your firm, consider a truly redundant connection. That means from a different company using a different kind of connection media. So if you have cable, get a phone line based backup. The more different your internet connections are the better, so less chance that a failure of one effects the other.
Do you know what devices on your network are critical? If your firewall, router or switch went down, would you be completely dead for days waiting for the new part? It might be worth having a spare (even an old model) or a ready idea of how long it will take to replace in a failure. At least identifying your Achilles heels in advance, gives you an advantage.
This one is interesting!
Most servers have redundant parts. The problem is if Part A fails and Part B takes over… you don’t know! So when Part B fails, the system dies and you are left to wonder how that could happen. We really see that with critical hard drives that are torture to rebuild from backups.
The good news is there are ways to setup monitoring and alerting on servers. So, when a part fails and you are in a critical state, you find out fast and can get it fixed before anything dies. Plus, most servers are kept under warranty so the part is usually free!
Imagine an expensive car and the check oil light comes on, but no one can see it. Now a little problem turns into a complete disaster when the engine seizes. Very preventable!
Any really old computers? Yes, we know, it’s only used for this one trivial task and we don’t need much. But are people waiting on it? Is it going to die? Staff waiting adds up quick.
What about any old applications? Maybe they are no longer supported and when something goes wrong, you can’t get help. Or, at some point, they force you to upgrade but it is so old it turns into a nightmare.
Time to put on the nerd hat. It sounds crazy but having a written system for new employees can really make your life easier. Even just a checklist.
It’s always surprising to see the same firms scramble over and over again to get everything in place when a new employee starts. Who is ordering what, what permissions they need, what programs, licenses for email and other programs?
When we do IT Audits for firms, one of the things we require is a form for new employees that authorizes their access, email, defines what they need and who approved. It ensures security, makes things go sooooo much smoother and really reduces stress! Plus, it’s nice to show the new employee you guys were so professional and ready for them instead of scrambling.
A Better Way
When is the last time you looked at the “big picture”? Are you guys doing things just because you’ve always done it that way? Maybe it isn’t very efficient or maybe it really isn’t even needed? What about any new ways to do things that would make things run so much better and smoother?
We often see firms doing some crazy (but clever) system to accomplish things only to show them there is a much shorter, easier and faster way they didn’t know about. Your IT systems should be making you better and, honestly… happier. Sometimes just pulling back and taking a deep breath and thinking about what systems you have in place reveals an idea that can save you a crazy amount of time.
So there you have it. Just going thru these 8 items can boost your entire firm’s productivity! It’s easy to get bogged down in the day to day tasks but regularly reviewing your firm’s productivity can pay dividends for years to come.
If you would like to discuss any of your findings, ideas or concerns, give us a call. We love to help!