As a modern company, your business IT network is one of your most critical assets. Without it, employees will be unable to do their jobs, while your customers will be left wondering where you disappeared to. There’s much more to business network installation than simply connecting a few workstations to a router and then getting online.
Crucial factors you must consider range from network security and bandwidth requirements to wireless ranges and audio/visual connections. Here are some tips on keeping everything straight:
Consider your needs
The first and most important consideration when setting up a business IT network is how many people will be using it. Unlike home networks, all but the smallest of businesses will need to use special hardware called network switches, since routers typically can’t accommodate more than four devices.
A common alternative is to provide a wireless network that your employees can connect to from their own devices. Nonetheless, you’ll still need to ensure that the network provides the necessary coverage and bandwidth.
Gather input from your employees
Since your employees will be the ones relying on your business network every day, it’s only reasonable that you ask for their input, too. They’ll help you better understand the requirements of each team and department within your organization. While you might already have a good idea of your usage requirements, it pays to turn to your employees for further insights, since they’re on the front lines. For example, some might prefer the increased flexibility of remote access, while others may prefer the reliability of cabled connectivity.
Assemble your management team
Once business growth reaches a certain point, network management will become a full-time job. Considerations for management teams include technical analyses and audits, implementation of upgrades, and the development of secure communications systems.
Things become significantly more complex for businesses with multiple branches or remote workforces, in which case it becomes necessary to create a wide-area network (WAN) that brings everything together under a single overarching management structure. If someone isn’t taking ownership of tasks like this, problems are more likely to arise.
Factor in future needs
Business priorities and IT solutions are evolving all the time. By planning for the future, your technology will keep you one step ahead, rather than becoming a barrier to growth.
It’s important that you consider the direction your business is likely to take in the next three to five years, and always leave plenty of room for expansion. Important considerations include office renovations, the installation of new audio/visual systems, increases in staffing, and remote working.
Budget for upgrades
Imagine that you’re moving to a new office and have hired a managed IT services provider to take care of the cabling. You’re using traditional landline phones but would rather have internet-based voice communication tools, such as Skype for Business. You could add that to your “future needs” in your three- to five-year plan, or you could make the leap and transition today.
The process of building or upgrading a network inevitably reveals several opportunities to make things better. List out all your upgrade options and prioritize the ones that are most closely aligned with your organizational goals. For the ones that can wait, make sure your IT team is doing everything it can to make future upgrades easier.
Prioritize security and compliance
It’s never been more important to implement robust network security measures right from the outset. Cyberthreats lurk around every corner and compliance regulations are getting stricter. Networks, as well as anything connected to them, need to be secure by design.
Your entire network needs to be guarded by a centrally managed administration and monitoring solution that provides real-time visibility into who’s accessing it. Key network-security precautions include firewalls, data encryption, antivirus software, and user access controls. Remote access capabilities are also essential for businesses that allow their employees to work offsite, in which case you’ll need to provide an enterprise-grade virtual private network (VPN).
Fidelis Inc. provides a full range of managed services, business phone systems and structured cabling solutions to help your business get the most out of technology. Talk to us today to get the IT support your company deserves.