Large companies have all the nice perks, like an IT department and full-time employees who help you run a business. However, in a smaller company, the technical maintenance on a website, your email, storage and backups, even social media often fall to the owner or an administrator who is tasked with many other chores. The wonderful benefits of less bureaucracy and flexible schedules sometimes leads to many computing challenges.
To keep your head above water, below are seven tips for tech maintenance. These are the items that are worth checking regularly and scheduling into your calendar, even if you also manage marketing, sales and customer service.
1. Monitor your website uptime.
Instead of an IT staff, a smaller business can rely on software to keep technology in check. One example of this is monitoring website uptime. You can sign up for services like Pingdom, which sends you a text or email if there is a problem. [Read related article: How to Hire Affordable Outside IT Support]
2. Schedule data backups.
Many small companies don't do backups at all. The reasons are varied: The steps are complicated and obscure, and it's also time-consuming. Many companies use the cloud for data storage, but they forget to archive email, settings, files on a laptop or confidential docs. Services like Crashplan can handle all these back-up duties without the complexity.
3. Update your website often.
Many small business owners think of a website as a marketing tool, not a conduit for hackers. Updating your site with new content makes sense to attract new customers, but an even better reason is to ensure you're keeping your website up to date with the latest security measures (if you host a site on your server or use a consultant for that).
4. Get an IT dashboard.
A dashboard can show you website uptime stats, Facebook demographics and much more ̶ some are focused on business progress, but others like Klipfolio help with IT issues. They're indispensable for busy small business owners, because you can see if there are IT issues at a glance, not by constantly monitoring everything all day long.
5. Monitor social media analytics.
It's not a purely IT-related function, but monitoring social media analytics can help you track customer engagement, see follower counts and stay up on any reputation-related problems. Most of the social media platforms, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, provide analytics for your business page, or you can use an app like HootSuite or Buffer to do a deeper dive.
6. Track email and meetings.
Apps for tracking email and even meetings are also available. One of the best is Microsoft MyAnalytics, which you might already have access to if you use Microsoft Office. (It depends on which business plan you use.) MyAnalytics provides a wealth of IT-centric data, including how often employees are using email, presented in a handy dashboard.
7. Check your network speed.
One last tech maintenance step: Make sure you are monitoring your network speed on occasion. You can do this for your internet service using a site like Speedtest.net, and you can use apps like Network Speed Test (available in the Windows store) to check local networks.