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How to start planning next year now with a Year-end Technology Review

Top 5 Considerations

Barrett Dilger

Year End Plans

It’s that time of year again, where things start to wrap up and new year plans start getting put together. There’s no better way to start planning for the future as reflecting on the past though.

The same truth applies to your technology. With so much of your business functioning on technology, now is the perfect opportunity to review and plan for the next year (or more) ahead.

A year-end review is the perfect time to look at how you can increase your efficiency and productivity to boost your bottom line. It’s also a great time to assess your security stance and how at risk you are against cyber attacks.

It’s been proven that small businesses that utilize technology excel greatly beyond those that don’t.

Some rough numbers how:

  • They earn twice as much revenue per employee
  • Year-over-year growth is almost 4 times greater
  • Have an average employee growth rate of 6 times as high

It’s also been shown that businesses that invest into cybersecurity significantly reduce the costs of a data breach.

Here’s a couple of stats how:

  • Organizations with an incident response plan reduce the cost of a data breach by 61%
  • Security AI and Automation controls reduced data breach costs by 70%
  • Extended security monitoring identifies a data breach 91% faster than those without it.

The benefits to your profitability and security are clear.

If you haven’t done a technology review before, get with your IT service provider or internal team to discuss these items.

Here are the top considerations when reviewing your technology at year-end

Technology Policy Review

You should have at least 5 essential tech policies in place with your company. Year end is a great time to review that you do and update them if necessary. If your policies are outdated, it makes them seem obsolete and not needed to be followed.

All 5 policies are important, but I will emphasize that in this review you should ensure that passwords are up to standard, official applications are being used (and not shadow IT – use of unauthorized apps), and confirm which devices your employees are using to access company data (specifically if it’s their own personal device).

Technology Pain Points

Talk to your staff who use your technology daily. What do they like and don’t like? Where do they seem to get hung up and waste time? Do they prefer one app over another? Why? How could things be better?

This should be the first step to look at what you’re currently doing and if it works, and if it works efficiently. Common complaints should be a red flag that something that you are currently doing can be improved. Making changes will improve performance, morale, and eliminate shadow IT.

Account Status Audit

Double check your employee accounts to make sure everything is set appropriately. Are all past employees disabled? Do any non key employees have advanced permissions they don’t need?

These should all be set correctly, but over time changes might be overlooked or erroneously applied.

Technology Upgrade Planning

Even if your current tech and policies are all in tip top shape, that will never last. Hardware gets old. Software gets updated. You will need to update and replace things sooner or later. If you address them only as they come up, it becomes more costly to implement and very disruptive to your business (which is another soft cost). Planning your upgrades removes surprises, allows for easier budgeting, and keeps your technology organized.

Check the age of your computers. See if any are reaching end of warranty or end of life. Schedule in replacements for the next year. Also note which ones will be coming due for the following year – again, to remove surprises and budget appropriately. Remember, PCs have an average life span of 4 years before adversely affecting your productivity with them.

While you are checking hardware, make sure to assess your network gear. Just like your workstations, your network infrastructure ages and needs updating. Check every hardware component for its age and warranty status. Remember if a server goes down, your business goes down.

If you are utilizing cloud computing, ensure that your current resources are stiff sufficient for your need. One of the benefits of cloud computing is that they can be ramped up or scaled back easily, keeping costs exactly where they need to be.

On the final front of upgrade planning, review where you want to be in the next year and what is needed to get there. Are you implementing new hardware or software? If you plan the rollout appropriately, it will avoid bottlenecks in the process and keep your business running smoothly.

Customer Facing Tech

Now that you are done looking internally, it’s time to look externally. What does the public see when they look at you? What is that experience like? Obviously, if it can be better, then it should be.

Review your website for design experience on desktop and mobile. Check the navigation. Make sure everything is functioning correctly and intuitively. Do you contact forms work? Do you have customer or vendor portals that are clearly marked and function properly?

Double checking these all work as you think they should will dramatically ease the daily use for those who interact with your business. That interactions will leave a positive lasting impression of you and your company.

That wraps up the top items for your year-end technology review.

If you have any questions or need any assistance conducting this review, feel free to reach out and we would be happy to give a consultation.