When chosen carefully, technology can make your work life (and your employees’) a lot more efficient. But without the help of a Chicago IT company, how can you be sure you even have the right technology in the first place?

Technology should not just be an afterthought.

Just like your staff, technology is a resource in which you invest. You wouldn’t hire someone to work for you without finding out what they can do, and figuring out where best they would fit in the organization, right?

It should work the same way with your technology.

It’s critical that you align technology to your organizational goals so that you’re not wasting money or technology you’ve already bought. Some have their Chicago IT company handle this, and some try to tackle it on their own.

But, how do you know what the right technology is?

To start, by asking the right questions about your current IT…

What Are The Top 3 Questions To Answer About Your IT?

1. What’s the state of the hardware?

As step number 1, it doesn’t get much easier than this.

Does everything you use actually turn on? How long does it take to boot up? Do the monitors have the right cables to connect to the towers? Can you consistently connect to the Internet?

All of this is certainly basic, but if you can’t get everything turned on and running properly on a regular basis, then there’s no need to move on to the following steps without having to replace the hardware.

2. Is the software up to date?

Now that you’ve determined how functional the hardware is, the next step is the software. Even if you don’t use these programs on a daily basis. there will likely be some updates that have to take place.

Updates are important because they correct existing errors and mistakes in software, and patch potential flaws that could leave it vulnerable to security threats.

One by one, open up each program you would plan to use on a regular basis. If there are updates that need to be installed, a pop-up window will likely open on start-up. However, if the previous owner turned off that automatic function, you’ll need to manually check for updates, which can be done in the program preferences.

Warning – installing multiple updates can take a long time. The longer that this technology has been sitting unused, the longer the update process. This could potentially be hours or even an entire working day in some situations.

3. What is the status of licenses and warranties?

After double-checking that everything is up to date, the next step will be to confirm the status of any existing licenses and warranties.

Depending on the type of business, there may be specific software needed for daily operations. It could be Quickbooks for accounting and bookkeeping or Oracle Micros for restaurant Point of Sales, but the bottom line is that if you need it to get work done, you should know whether you can actually use it.

See, while the program may be installed on the hardware you have, that doesn’t mean that the licenses originally purchased for it won’t have expired. The most direct way to check if the license is still in good standing is often just to try to use the software. If that doesn’t answer the question for you, then try looking at the About page for the software.

Bottom line – evaluating an IT system, whether it’s a decade old, or brand new, is an intensive process, and there’s plenty to consider, which is why some outsource the process to a Chicago IT company.

If you’re handling it on your own, make sure you have a step by step plan in place so that you don’t have to backtrack, or start all over again.

What Technology Do You Need To Have?

Now that you’ve made sure all your existing IT infrastructure is in working order, let’s start thinking about the tools you may be missing, or at least, which may need to be upgraded.

This process is all about making sure that you and your team have what they need to do their job as effectively and efficiently as possible.

1. Email

Email is perhaps the most ubiquitous technology used in the business world today – possibly even more so than the phone. It’s instantaneous, can deliver important files, and doesn’t require the immediate attention that a phone call does.

That’s why you need it – it’s a non-negotiable. And, if you’re currently using some free, no-name email client, you may want to consider an upgrade. When it comes to some as universal as email, paying for a better option is undoubtedly worth the money.

A good choice would be Microsoft Outlook, which has been the email program of choice for businesses for many years, and with good reason. With an abundance of great features and endless options for customization, it’s the perfect solution for those trying to communicate effectively in the business setting.

2. File Sharing

You and I know that the way you do work is changing.

Employees are no longer simply stuck behind desks, completing tasks on PCs and working within the same office. Workforces are mobile, getting work done from wherever it’s most convenient. This requires the capability to share files securely and conveniently.

You could try Microsoft SharePoint, which is designed to allow you to share files, collaborate, edit, and more with anywhere from a single coworker to an entire team. Files in SharePoint aren’t owned or associated with one specific person – everyone on the team has read and write access.

Files that you store in a given Microsoft Team Site can be accessed by all team members, allowing everyone to collaborate by creating lists and libraries in which to store content. SharePoint offers a range of other features as well to help enrich the experience, including metadata, workflows, custom views and more.

SharePoint is where you keep the files that you want your team members to access, update, edit, etc. Try using SharePoint for your next team project and see how effective it really is.

3. VoIP

Did you know that landlines will be extinct by 2020?

This need for a more reliable form of communication is leading many to make the transition from the landline to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

The move to VoIP offers your business improvements in efficiency, reliability, and quality, all at an affordable cost. Landline phones are becoming obsolete – you can’t keep using them forever.

VoIP phones slash prices compared to traditional phone systems, allowing you to reallocate funds to other areas of your business that need attention. Your connectivity and means of collaboration improve, allowing you to stay connected and in-the-loop even when you’re on the go. A wide range of innovative features makes your communications easier and more effective, helping to increase productivity and improve your workflow.

4. Technology Specific To Your Work

Engineers need AutoCAD, accountants need QuickBooks, medical practices need EHR…

What about you? Do you know about potential line of business applications, designed specifically for your industry, that could help improve your efficiency?

This is a key step in finding the right technology to aid what you do – if you don’t know about potential game-changing technology, you’re missing out on clear advantages in your daily work processes.

Again – how can you figure which technologies to invest in?

You could do the homework yourself. That’s assuming you have the time do so, and a sufficient understanding of technology to do so.

On the other hand, the easiest way is to ask a Chicago IT company – they can provide an IT assessment that will examine the technology you use and what’s lacking in relation to your culture, process, and financial requirements. This will generate greater value for your organization while decreasing risk.

Like this article? Check out the following blogs to learn more:

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