From one PC to a network
THIS week we are going to look at the IT growing pains that businesses face as they transition from a small one PC outfit to having multiple staff and 10 or more PC's.
In this instance there will be multiple points in time where complete systems have to change to permit accurate quoting/estimating, ordering, invoicing and bookkeeping.
Many businesses start out with using the popular Office modules from Microsoft such as Word and Excel and this may serve them well if they are doing a couple of sales a day.
Going beyond this a proper accounting package such as MYOB or Reckon is near essential.
There are single user versions of these accounting packages that will soon pay for themselves in saved time when it comes to invoicing and doing financial reporting such as BAS and end of financial year reports.
Moving to a computer network that has more than one user you then strike the need to network two or more computers together so that they can share the same files (such as quote templates) and possibly the accounting package as well.
At this point the previous single user version of MYOB or Reckon can also be upgraded to become a multi-user version. Things also have to change with the PC's.
In the first place it is best if the original PC has a 'Professional' version of Windows such as Win 7 Pro or lately Win 10 Pro as these versions network together far better than Windows Home.
If you get a professional IT tech in then they should setup shared folders and shared printers as well as the most vital thing you need - good Internet protection and a good backup.
Good Internet protection now consists of more than just a good anti-virus program.
The latest Next-Gen routers can actively filter out viruses, email spam and do intrusion prevention which takes a considerable load off your ant-virus software. These routers are not cheap but neither is data loss once you have employees and regular customers.
If you are a single person business or just a home user then keeping all of your important records on your computer as well as separately on an external backup drive is essential.
As a business grows their backup system should become more comprehensive as well.
Offsite backup systems keeping several months' worth of data restore points as well as a disaster recovery plan should prevail.
Once you get to around the four to five computer mark then you also need to consider the transition from a Windows desktop based peer-to-peer server to a proper domain based server.
This step definitely needs the assistance of an IT professional but this step can offer the internal security and flexibility that this size business needs.
At this point many businesses also look for industry specific software which can again streamline all of the processes that they have to run at the customer facing level as well as the back of house level.
Many of these software packages will be of the pay per month and pay per user type. Some will want to be run from a dedicated server or others may be offered in the cloud.
When considering the purchase of a server the number of options available once again grows far beyond the number that needs to be considered with a workstation or laptop.
We come across businesses that have paid good money for a 'server' solution that is often no better than a middle of the road workstation.
Next week we will look at some of the purchase options with servers and why a 'server' can vary from $1500 to $100,000 and every price point in between. Byte Me topics can be emailed to email@example.com