Most larger companies invest in an IT department, it’s usually a business necessity and many wouldn’t survive without that support. However for smaller companies it’s sometimes difficult to justify dedicated staff to deal with a small network and it usually gets allocated to someone with some IT knowledge.
This can be a difficult role, as even a small network connected to the internet can take a lot of time and effort to look after. Worse still there are a myriad of technical skills needed to keep even the smallest computer network running correctly. Inevitably people will do these best but often end up making expensive mistakes.
Anyway I’ve spent 30 years working in IT so if you’re in that situation, here’s some advice that should help.
Keep it simple – don’t buy a myriad of different computers and printers, decide on specific models and stick with them. It’s not worth saving a few dollars – it will end up making your life much more complicated. Try and buy from the same source and they will likely help you out with support and advice when you need it.
Network Printers – although networking can cause issues, centralizing your printers is worth doing. Minimize the numbers and locate them in secure central positions, users might moan about the odd walking but it will reduce the security and support risks.
Centralize Internet Access – your internet access should go through one server, and a central firewall. This means you can control access and monitor problems from a central location. Always configure your clients to go through this internal proxy – allowing them access directly reduces control and you’ll have to add more security features directly to the clients. People will use external proxies and residential vpns to access inappropriate sites if you allow them.
Educate your Users – although it might seem tempting to maintain some mystery to computer support, enabling your users to solve their own IT issues will ultimately make your life easier. If possible get them some training or produce manuals/online FAQs for them to access before contact you.
Using these simple guidelines you can drastically reduce the complexity and workload of a small network but make no mistake even a smaller set up can be very time consuming. At least when you know your users in a smaller set up you can help solve support issues. If your internet bandwidth is being consumed by a user who is using anonymous torrenting to download movies at work, it’s likely you can reduce the number of prime suspects quite quickly.