Your business computer network is more than just a system that helps the IT department by connecting your company computers to enhance access to business information. Your network should aim to connect your business to your entire community, anywhere and at any time. This includes your customers, partners, employees and suppliers. Your small business network is vital and it should not be an afterthought when planning your business strategy.
Taking your business networking seriously will help you to avoid common pitfalls that many small businesses make. Many times, decision makers try to attain enterprise-level solutions while maintaining consumer-level expenses. Many small businesses do not realize that maintaining their network will require having dedicated IT staff and this translates to increased costs. Fortunately, outsourcing the functions can help to bridge this gap.
Planning for the software
When designing your small business network, one of the most important considerations is choosing the software that you will use. Most businesses opt for industry specific software that is customized to meet the needs of the particular industry. If you decide to use the software that is designed for your industry, you need to make sure that you plan the networking and hardware to meet the specific software requirements. Make sure that you think about the cost of all the systems when choosing software.
Planning for the users
When planning, it is important to know the number of people who will use the software. You need to plan for storage requirements, user licenses, network cabling and all the devices that each employee will need. You also need to think about your customers' requirements, and if they will need to access your wireless network or website. You need to find out about the different software licensing options so that you can choose the best one for your business.
Consider the devices
You need to plan for the devices that you have currently and those you are hoping to get in the future. Think about the number of computers you are supporting and consider if you will support tablets, smart devices or wireless laptops. You also need to think about the scanners, network printers, fax and other devices. Effective planning requires you to consider all the factors so that you can install the wireless access points, network cabling and network switches.
Remote access and telecommuting
If you are planning to host your website on the network or your employees need to access sensitive data remotely, you need to think about security. You need to install a VPN access device or business class firewall. Outsourcing the function is a great way to ensure that you benefit from the best technology and you do not have to worry about network problems affecting your business.
There are other factors to consider and they include ensuring that you invest in hardware and software that is designed for business as opposed to that which is designed for consumer class or home use. Determine the requirements that you have for systems availability and remember to think about the cost of downtime on the business. Dealing with a reputable IT outsourcing firm will always help.