This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com - #Growing Your Business
A well-oiled network can ensure that businesses make and implement smart decisions efficiently.
4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Although a lot of business functions are rapidly moving to the cloud., it is not yet a practical option for many businesses to migrate totally. First, the technical know-how that’s required might not be readily available, especially in smaller businesses. Secondly, there are also advantages to keeping your data and processes in-house.
If you’re able to optimize your office network, you’ll find that your staff can store and process data quickly and efficiently, which will translate to better business efficiency overall, and more profits. Everything rests on getting your network infrastructure right though, and here are a few tips on doing just that.
1. Audit your network.
Before embarking on any major optimization efforts or even upgrading, it’s crucial to first understand exactly where there are issues in your network. Are your computers the real bottleneck, or are your staff in need of training to take full advantage of the facilities you’ve provided? If it is either of those things, then you’ll need to take steps to fix those issues, independent of any network optimizations.
If you find that your network is the problem, you’ll need to identify exactly what parts of it need fixing. You can do this by troubleshooting and testing all the different components in isolation.
2. Re-train your employees on best practices.
It’s one thing to have top-of-the-line equipment, and it’s quite another for your employees to be able to use it to full capacity while avoiding mistakes that could cause issues for them and other workers. Don’t assume that your employees are already tech-savvy. Take the time to produce a checklist and walk them through it regularly.
One mistake that often happens is when a few employees hog network resources, thus making the connection too slow for others. Sometimes, the employees in question might be doing something completely unrelated to your business. While it may seem that a few people streaming Netflix during lunch shouldn’t be a problem, each additional person can add to the strain significantly. Emailing very large files instead of using cloud drives is another common area where you can make a quick fix.
3. Parition your network using VLANS.
Not all network requests are equal, in terms of urgency as well as priority. The best way to ensure that requests of higher priority get more network resources is to implement VLANS in your network. While it can be a complicated process, the concept is simply that you can create separate networks within your single office network.
Those networks can share resources and infrastructure, but be designed to allow requests from one or more of the virtual networks to take priority whenever there’s a shortage. This is very important in allowing the C-Suite to conveniently make a crucial video conference with a top client, for instance. It is also helpful from a security perspective, since breaches into one VLAN would be easier to contain than one that gets into a single network.
4. Monitor and maintain.
No matter how well you optimize your network now, it won’t remain perfectly optimized in perpetuity. You’ll need to keep an eye on the network performance and metrics to be sure that things are purring on as they should. In order to do that, you might need to make use of specialized tools, or have an expert take a look if you don’t have an expansive in-house IT department.
According to Peter Di Stefano, Principal Product Marketing Manager of AppOptics , “It’s crucial that the tests are performed regularly and all faults and bottlenecks identified are fixed as soon as possible to avoid a deterioration. Even though you might have to shell out some money, the benefits in terms of business efficiency would more than make up for it.”
In all, the imperative of having a well-oiled network for your business cannot be overstated. In some cases, it can be the difference between success and failure, but even when it’s not fatal, a poorly optimized network will have an impact on your business efficiency and profitability. Use the above tips to tweak your network and make sure your business is on the fast track.