Small Business IT Consulting
The primary focus of my work involves doing a range of information technology consulting for small businesses that can not afford a dedicated IT staff, but need a professional opinion or assistance keeping their workplace up to speed.
While there are a number of tasks that vary on a case by case basis, the most common tasks I help with are:
- Hardware Assessment, Configuration, and Installation
Knowing exactly what type and scale of hardware to run a business on also requires knowing how it can be upgraded and extended smoothly. It is important to save money by only investing in computers, but also important to know how to expand systems - and needless to say, assemble them.
- Software Packages, Services, and Formats
Once you have the hardware you need, there are important decisions to make regarding what types of software to use. An option that seems cheap at the time can prove to be troublesome as a business experiences growth. There are options to use software based on the products and services offered by a number of companies that each address a part of the market. Finding what your needs are is a key step. For instance, using a source like Libre Office may appeal to saving money, but the enterprise services offered by Microsoft Office 365 offer a better business environment and can be deployed with ease. Choosing how to host a server is also crucial, such as deciding between Microsoft's IIS, which is easy to use, or Apache HTTP Server, which is more robust and (generally) secure. This even extends to your choice of operating system for the office, which depends on what type of productivity you expect.
- Network Configuration
One of the most difficult parts of using information technology in the workplace is the myriad choices of network software and hardware. This involves everything from using servers, configuring a company intranet to share resources, shaping security options, choice of network hardware such as routers... right down to what type of cables to use. This is a field with constantly changing standards and the largest security risks in computing, so keeping up with it is essential. It is shaped by your needs, the size and location of your offices, and the types of hardware you need to connect through the network. Will you be ready for the IPv6 rollout? Are your firewalls configured? What kinds of wireless and mobile devices do you have, and how do they manage to connect to the network remotely? These questions are hard to even predict.
- Internet Presence
The Internet is a powerful tool. Even if the only use you have for a website is posting a menu or a map, owning a website that also offers the advantages of having your own business e-mail addresses, which is far more professional than an address at other services such as GMail, Outlook, or AOL. Connecting in to search engines means people have a better chance of finding you. As a business grows, they need to consider how to use the Internet in their expansion. Using SharePoint or other software that operate on "the cloud", you can access your business files from any computer and share files between employees instantly. A larger business would consider operating an "intranet", which is a private server for company use that can hold documents, schedules, and other data.
- System Deployment and Maintenance
After deciding what hardware and software will best suit your business, it takes a technician to be able to install the software on every system for compatibility, expansion, and ease of technical support. It is also important to be aware of software updates that offer new features or fix security issues. A crucial part of designing and maintaining systems is making sure that your data stays safe. No system is immune to failure. If your hardware fails, is destroyed, or even hacked, it is important to have regular backups and the ability to restore services quickly with losing as little data as possible. Planning for these backups is a step that can not be overlooked.
- Updating Systems for Compatibility, Standards, and Security
Flexibility is important to any IT solution. Your software and hardware need to be able to move with new technological standards, but also be compatible with other systems running older software or programs from a different company. This happens frequently as companies mix using fax machines, PDF files, and word processor files. Newer software is able to handle more contingencies, so staying up to date is crucial.
- Technical Support on Retainer
Because of the fluid information technology landscape and the constantly changing needs of businesses as they grow, not every contingency can be planned for, prevented, or fixed. Hardware breaks down, tech companies go out of business or change their services, or sudden needs arise with systems, such as a security breach. With every company I work with, I am happy to stay with your company and help you face future circumstances, whether doing regular software updating, responding to help fix a problem, or provide further consulting on systems.
Each small business has different needs, especially with keeping an eye towards growth. It is hard to keep up with the constantly changing landscape of information technology, and all too easy to be caught with outdated security or not able to keep a network running. Hiring professionals to do each step is expensive and confusing; it is far better to have one familiar source for your computer systems across the board. It is my goal to provide businesses with the advice and expertise I have from two decades of experience.
© 2000-2015, Brian Garcia