After months, or even years, of hard work, goal setting, sacrifice and investment, you have taken the next step and are now the owner/operator of your own business. While you have a good understanding of management practices and leadership, you may not have given much thought to setting up the essential hardware that will keep the operations running.
Below are some best practices for setting up your business office:
Your primary workstation should be selected based on the primary function of your office. If you have full-time staff in your office, you will want to set them up with a desktop and multiple monitors for ease of use and productivity. The desktop will provide a cost-effective solution that should serve your office well for at least three years. Your mobile users will want to use a high-quality business laptop and have a workstation setup at the office where your full-size monitors, keyboard and mouse are located. The best setups use a small device called a port replicator that will have your non-portable devices plugged in and allows you to easily attach your laptop.
We recommend the Dell line of computers for laptops and desktops. The Dell OptiPlex 3000 series of systems are great solutions for the back office. Select a system with at least 4GB of memory, and for an extra punch of performance select a solid state hard drive (SSD). An SSD is an expensive upgrade, but we have found it greatly improves system performance and is worth the price increase. Select Microsoft Windows 10 for your operating system. Microsoft’s newest operating system is solid and will outperform Windows 7 and 8 when you pair it with good hardware.
For your laptop, plan to spend more than on an equivalent desktop. It is important to get a more robust laptop to guarantee the best user experience for many years to come. The upgrade options are limited, and therefore to maximize your investment, get the upgrades now. The Dell Inspiron 5000 series is a great business workstation with good performance options.
By far the most common office productivity software is Microsoft Office. Consider using a service such as Office 365 to gain access to personalized email services with top-level spam and virus protection built in. Office 365 has many plans available, some of which include full versions of Office and centralized cloud-based file storage.
Select a high-quality antivirus software program and be sure to keep it updated. There are many protection products on the market and it is important to check the reviews of the software prior to selecting a product. In a recent product review, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus took top score along with Kaspersky Antivirus. We also use Malwarebytes to check for other forms of malware and spyware.
Once you have your system selected and setup you need to consider a backup solution that will keep your data backed up and will allow you to easily restore the information in the case of a system failure. Carbonite Pro offers a great solution for backup and recovery at a very reasonable price per year. Once the software is setup, it will constantly monitor your system for changed files, which will automatically backup to the cloud.
It’s important to select a quality printer that will always be ready to perform the duty at hand. If you are considering a mobile office, you should get a network-attached printer that will be available for printing when you are in your office space. A network-attached printer allows you to print without the need to plug it in physically to the computer. The printer can be always on and not dependent to a computer being powered on and available to share the printer. We typically use Hewlett Packard LaserJet Pro Series Printers. The HP LaserJet Pro M402dw is a great small office printer that has wireless network connectivity, which makes finding a good location for the printer in your office even easier.
The Fujistu ScanSnap iX500 has long been a favorite for our clients’ back office scanning needs. It easily connects to a computer via USB and can handle the daily workload for a busy back office. The document feeder can hold up to 50 pages, which will save you time when scanning bundles of documents. In standard mode, this scanner will scan front and back at 25 ppm (pages per minute). You can also scan color documents or photos at 1200 dpi, which produces a great image that is very detailed and should suit your color scanning needs. This scanner has software that will allow it to run on PC and Mac computers. A feature that we especially like is the ability to scan directly to an iOS or Android mobile device.
With both printers and scanners, we recommend that you do not rely on multi-function machines (MFM) unless you invest in the enterprise versions of these devices. A purpose-built machine will most often outperform the consumer grade MFM in both reliability and ease of use.
If you have any questions about any hardware and software solutions, please feel free to contact the technology department at Sparkmon & Associates.