My name is Lee Ann Collins, managing partner of Lane Gorman Trubitt, LLC (LGT), a public accounting firm in Dallas, and this job is keeping me up at night.
There is a saying that if you die in a dream, you will wake up. Turns out if you are dreaming about being informed that the IT guy died you will also wake up…in a panic. I am lucky that Juan Carlos is still alive and in excellent health, and is not providing tech support for the cloud in the… well…clouds. It doesn’t matter if your IT guy had an untimely end, is moving on to a new opportunity, or is retiring to Tampa, there are some things that every managing partner needs to know to ensure the continuation of service after they have left.
Where did I put that again?
Software licenses expire, hardware warranties need to be tracked, and somewhere in the cloud is the contract for the cloud service. While I don’t keep hard copies of everything, it is essential that there is a central location that both you and the IT professional know about, be that, hard copies in a physical file cabinet or a protected file on the server. When it comes to software licenses, it is always a good idea to know when they expire and what computers they are loaded onto.
A place for everything and everything in its place
Not every computer will need every application. Our marketing team will not be doing tax returns, and hopefully, our tax team won’t be designing logos. By tracking what software is on what machine, this allows us to be more efficient because we aren’t paying for unneeded software. Have an updated list on which employees need what software and know who has permissions for different levels of access.
Back it up
All the information that is put on a company server should be backed up at regular intervals. In case your IT professional is called to the great beyond, make sure you know how to access the backup and why you might need it. Don’t just back it up, test your restore function regularly and make sure it works. Backing everything up is excellent but it is meaningless if the restore doesn’t work and you have to start from scratch. If it all ends tomorrow for your favorite computer guy, make sure you know where your back up is and how to restore the server if it gets struck by lightning in a string of bad luck.
Make sure you know how to take away and add permissions to access email, the server, and proprietary content, which can include a tax program or access to social media. Make an appointment with your IT professional to have them walk you through the basics of network monitoring tools and how to control permissions. Know what your server needs. The physical health of your server is just as important as the security of the information. Have a list of systems that are aging out, know what the environmental requirements are, who is allowed to access the server, and make sure that you can manage any of those concerns if they come up.
So, who do I call now? It is always a good idea to keep an up-to-date contact list that includes all vendors, IT consulting firms that have serviced you, insurance companies, service providers (ISP), etc. Most likely, they all in conjunction will know what runs in your environment, what licenses or products have been ordered in the past, agreements about to expire. Generally speaking, there are major programs that you’ll always get assigned a specific Account Manager, they’ll be the go-to person in case of a crisis.
Hire a Service
While these are all great tools for planning, there are other options if you don’t want to have in-house IT. Managed IT services shifts all the responsibility and work, onto another company but can also slow down help desk tickets or network overhauls. It is very nice to be able to catch Juan Carlos in the hall and ask for a quick fix. There is also an option of third-party security access which is a company that’s the only purpose is to access the network if there is a breach of security or an emergency.
No matter what, keeping our IT team alive and well is definitely one of my top priorities, but if something should happen we are prepared to deal with any network or technological situation in the future.