With the Christmas break almost upon us, here are some IT housekeeping chores you can perform to get your system ready to function optimally in 2017.
Update or discard outdated systems
The end of the year is a good time to make a concerted effort to purge your IT system of software that has reached the end of its support life. For instance, even though Windows 2003 offerings are, as of 2015, no longer supported by Microsoft, some companies are still using these operating systems. Using outdated or unsupported systems, in addition to potentially harming efficiency, can also expose your IT system to increased risk of a security breach.
One option to consider if your system needs upgrading is to move some or all of your IT operations to the cloud. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings such as Microsoft’s Office 365 business productivity software cloud bundle feature automatic updates as new software versions are released, saving you the time and hassle of having to continuously check to make sure you are using the latest version of a particular solution.
Dump obsolete hardware
Given the speed with which improvements to IT equipment are developed these days, it is not uncommon for companies to find that their staff is using a variety of outdated devices. Such obsolete equipment can put your company at a competitive disadvantage. The holiday slow period is a great time to take a look at your firm’s IT assets and dispose of equipment which is no longer capable of providing the functionality necessary to operate efficiently in a modern IT system.
Check for Security Vulnerabilities
Whether you perform the check yourself or bring in a third party firm specialising in IT security to do so, the Christmas break is an excellent time to review your IT security plan. A major source of vulnerability many SMEs face is an operating system that has not been fully updated to the most recent version. Use the seasonal slowdown to ensure that you are using the latest versions of all software solutions. Also, if your company has experienced rapid growth it is worthwhile to evaluate your firewall to determine if an upgrade is needed to enhance its capacity.
Another important component of IT security is access control. Review your security protocols to ensure that you are providing the appropriate levels of access to the appropriate parties. If an employee has left the firm, or if you are no longer working with a third party firm, verify that the necessary adjustments to access permissions have been made.
The end-of-the-year Christmas break provides a great opportunity to catch up on all the IT maintenance items you have had to put off for one reason or another over the course of the year. The suggestions above provide a starting point for reviewing the areas that can most profitably be addressed during the annual slowdown around the holidays.