Let’s face it, no one is going to be brokenhearted when 2020 leaves stage left. It has been a year of shutdowns, masks, pandemic, small businesses struggling, division within our nation, fear and yet life continues. In roughly 15 days, we will welcome 2021, and that means hope to me. But before we welcome 2021, we have some housekeeping tasks for your Information Technology networks.
- Tax Planning
December is the time to look at your tax reports and determine if you need to reduce your tax bill. Pay attention to IRS rules (section 168 and 179) about qualified assets purchases, which can determine the best time for you to make hardware computer purchases. Using this time to review your Profit & Loss statements and determine the right time to replace or purchase additional equipment, rather than delaying and losing the advantages.
Many companies have some downtime around the holidays. This slow down time is a perfect time to clean and refresh your IT functional areas. This step has two parts:
Physically clean – sweep out the desk, clean the keyboards, wipe down the monitors, and remove dust from the area around the computers. I also clean my desk, review the post-it notes that seem to gather over time, and make sure the workspace is clean, refreshed, and ready for a new year.
Hard Drive/Disk Space – a time to review your back up files, and make sure they are working. Look at the documents and files you are storing and archive ones that are not needed. Run compress and defragment utilities on the Disk space. Look at temporary folders and see what files are there. Either move these files to a permanent place or delete them. Clean your cookies from your browsers and clean your cache files.
- Prepare and Prevent Data Breaches
This is also the perfect time to enforce all your employees to change their password and add encryption. If your network doesn’t force passwords to expire, then how about setting that up for 2021? It’s easy to introduce a new policy of password changes every 30 days at the beginning of the year.
We are seeing other bloggers who say, “use this time to check for your information on the Dark Web”. In our opinion, that is not often enough. Here at Techno Advantage, we can run Dark Web search based on your employee name and email addresses. We have a Dark Web scan monitoring service, where we constantly check your employee credentials. This way we can address any data breaches immediately. If you aren’t already signed up for this service, call us Today!
- Review Systems & Fix Problems
We all get behind and add things to the “someday list”. That list of items that when we get time, we will take care of it. This is the time to take care of them. Look at the processes and systems you have in place, review them, and begin improving them. Maybe it’s a network cable that you temporarily ran across the floor which needs to be hidden properly. How about that monitor that you haven’t mentioned to anyone, but it sometimes flickers? Yes, you can wiggle the cord when it happens, or we can swap it out and fix the problem.
Take the time now to inventory your IT equipment, verify that it’s working properly, and you know where each piece of equipment is within your business. Making a record of the manufacturer name, model number and serial numbers will be value if your business is faced with a fire, flooding, or break in.
Make sure your hardware is updated and running the most updated security patches, as well as your operating system and software. Right now, the news is talking about security updates, verify your patches and look for any new security updates.
This is also a good time to look at any vendor contracts and make sure you know when they renew. Look at the quality of service you are receiving and if it’s not renewal time, set a reminder to do some competitive shopping to make sure you’re getting the best value for your budget.
- Buy Products with Holiday Savings
Sometimes the new sales staff needs updated laptops, or the accounting department needs to upgrade their QuickBooks desktop edition. Many IT providers will offer special deals on hardware and software during this time of the year. It is a time to purchase the upgrades, updates, or new equipment.
- Review your website and social media accounts
Recently, I found a client had the wrong telephone on their website. It had changed over a year ago, but no one caught it. I hate to think how many potential sales they might have missed. Sometimes, your website will have staff photos that are outdated, products that you no longer offer, or other outdated information. Make sure you’re review your website and all social media accounts that they have the right information and are current.
Along with checking the content of the website, also make sure the plug-ins, themes and any other software associated with your website is updated. Check the copyright date and keep it current. People trust websites less if the copyright statement is outdated. Look for when your hosting and domain renew and set a calendar reminder to make sure they don’t lapse. Also, check the website traffic and SEO. Make changes to keywords and the SEO to get better traffic if needed.
Review your Social media feedback and see what posts are getting the most attention. Make a schedule or plan for at least the first quarter, so that your social media is part of your marketing strategy and plan.
- Make your Project List for Next Year
We get that it’s the time to slow down. Employees will request time off to spend with families, so staff might be reduced temporarily, but this is the time to make the list and start a timeline for future projects.