While the vast majority of large companies already have IT policies in place, many small and even medium size businesses still operate without one. Although many smaller companies might feel that the policy is simply not needed, there are several reasons why you should write a comprehensive IT policy that covers all aspects of the digital life of your company.
The Benefits of an IT Policy
While you might not think your small business needs an IT Policy, but there are many great reasons that make creating an IT Policy not only necessary but also beneficial to your business no matter what its size.
1. Ensure you use IT effectively.
You want to make sure you are using the technology that you have invested in to its fullest potential and keep within budget at the same time. Having an effective IT policy can guide your employees on the best practices for such things such as repair, support and training so you can get the most out of your investment.
2. Protect your business.
If your business deals with potentially sensitive and private customer data, you want to create a policy that includes how you handle this data so both your customers and your employees know and understand how the data is to be handled and protected. This will increase both your customer and employee confidence and help them deal with any potential problems that may occur in the future.
3. Protect your employees.
Studies have shown that almost all employees will lose focus during the day and may even wander onto their favorite social media site or send the occasional personal email or two. Because of this, it is important to have a policy that spells out how you the business owner expects the Internet and email to be handled and how much privacy an employee can expect when using these services at the office.
4. Maintain your budget.
In addition to standard usage policies, the most effective IT policies also include procedures that cover the purchase of new equipment and the requirements for outsourcing support and other IT needs. By including these policies, you can easily control your IT budget so you don’t go over budget and it will help you ensure any problems are dealt with quickly and effectively.
Areas Your IT Policy Should Cover
When creating the perfect IT policy for your business, it is important to consider all the aspects of your company’s IT infrastructure and cover each and every part in your policy. There are a few parts of a good IT policy that are absolutely essential.
1. Email Use
It is important to specify exactly how employees are to use email in both professional and personal correspondence. In addition, it is wise to disclose whether or not email is private or the property of the company.
2. Internet Usage
Every company has different rules when it comes to Internet usage. If you prefer that staff limit Internet activities to only business related searches, it is important to spell that out clearly. If your business runs any type of filtering to prevent certain websites from being displayed you should also let all your new employees know about this filtering before they begin using the Internet.
3. Social Media Policies
Almost everybody utilizes social media and it is important to spell out in your policy if you allow the use of social media during business hours as well as any regulations as to what your employees can say about your company on their social media sites.
4. Data Policy and Safeguards
Your employees should be made aware and understand exactly how you protect their personal data as well as the personal data of your customers, and they must learn how to implement these policies to ensure the security of that data.
5. Printing Policies
Printing can often become a large expense for any company. That is why it is important to establish a set of guidelines for printing so you can keep your print costs in check. Create a policy that aims for the mythical paper free office!
6. Network Security
Your IT staffers have undoubtedly built various security checks into your network and have already established policies regarding passwords designed to keep your network secure. It is important to spell out these policies to your staff so they understand what is expected from them as they use the network.
Crafting the perfect IT policy can be time consuming but it can also save you time and money down the road. No matter the size of your business, writing a sound and coherent IT policy will communicate to your employees exactly what you expect from them when it comes to your IT policies. It will help you keep costs under control while protecting your company from harm as you attempt to grow your business and compete in the modern market.