For business owners, the end of the year can seem like a massive hurdle to jump. With taxes, budgets, and vacation time to plan, it can feel like there’s no time to celebrate the holidays at all! However, the end of the year can be a great time to get a head start on planning, especially if you start early.
This checklist will help you maneuver planning for your business’s IT needs, so you can save your time for unwrapping gifts and laughing with family.
The Ultimate End of Year Checklist for Small Business IT
- Check in with your managed service provider. Before you start your end-of-year IT processes, check in with your MSP to compare notes. They may have advice for where to start, items they want to bring to your attention, or recommendations for the new year.
- Take an inventory. Identify every laptop, PC, cell phone, tablet, and other mobile device that is used for your business. Take note of things like serial numbers, model numbers, make, and year.
- Make note of potential hardware upgrades. This is where those model and year numbers come in handy! If you noticed any performance issues during your inventory, it may be time to make an upgrade. Don’t get too click-happy with end of year sales, though—make note of what you’re interested in upgrading, and weigh the pros and cons once you’re done with the rest of your end-of-year procedures.
- Download and install software updates. A lot of minor performance issues can be solved with a quick check for updates. Many PCs and laptops automatically download updates but have to be restarted to finish installing them. Identify any outdated software, or programs you’re interested in that would make your job easier.
- Set a tech budget for the New Year. Now that you’ve figured out what hardware and software could boost your business in the next year, make a budget – and stick to it! Try to prioritize what actually needs upgraded, and what’s just flashy.
- Back up your data. We can’t say this enough. Back up your data! The end of the year is a great time to perform an overhaul on your data backup systems, or start a new one if – horror of horrors – you never got around to setting one up in the first place.
- Back up your contacts. Separate from work files and programs, make sure you have a reliable backup of all of your business contacts. Clients, networking buddies, and potential referrals all have a place in your address book – and you want to have access to that information if your phone gets dropped in the snow.
- Archive client information. The end of the year is also a good time to store away any client information that’s no longer relevant to your business. Past clients, old relationships, and contracts from ten years ago should never be deleted, but you can free up massive amounts of space by designating specific storage options for these.
- Download important files and reports. Most businesses have critical files that they use daily, or reports that are necessary for other end-of-year tasks, like taxes. Download and print hard copies of the files you need for your end-of-year procedures, and keep them in a specific folder at your desk. It’ll come in handy for tax season!
- Clean up storage space. While you’re at it, clear away some of the items you never use, like duplicates or abandoned projects. You’d be surprised how much storage space a few dusty Photoshop files can take up!
- Evaluate your file organization system. As you’ve been diving deep into your storage system, you may have identified opportunities to improve your organization. A couple hours’ work will save you endless time when you’re looking for files next year!
- Update your passwords. Passwords should really be updated every 60 days, but the end of the year offers a great opportunity for a reminder. If you find yourself using the same password for every device and program, use a password generator to create custom, varied credentials for each login. If you use a lot of different platforms, or your company shares logins for a variety of services, consider subscribing to a password management platform like the GTS Password Management Portal.
- Audit your mobile device management system. If your employees bring their own mobile devices to work, check on their security. Make sure you have systems in place to grant access to only those people who should actually be accessing your system.
- Check for email standardization. This is a small one, but many businesses rely on email accounts using shared features like logos and signatures. Check with your employees and partners to make sure everyone’s using the most up-to-date logos, web links, and phone numbers for your company.
- Update your website. After a whole year of business, odds are good your website might need a refresher. Are your “about us” photos looking a bit outdated? Is your contact information up-to-date? Identify opportunities to improve your web copy, boost keywords, or expand your online presence.
- Check in with your managed service provider – again! Finally, now that you’ve finished your list, check in with your MSP to see if there’s anything you’ve missed. Tell them your thoughts on potential upgrades, security issues, or software you’re interested in trying out. They may be able to offer advice or another perspective as you’re deciding on your tech budget for next year.