Whenever a business expands and generates enough revenue to justify opening new locations, that is always great news and a clear marker of success. Expanding and opening new offices is in fact the greatest test of business viability and a line that is not as easily crossed as may be thought.
Successfully starting managing multiple office locations is a clear indication of how well and fast a business can consolidate and connect all locations to a central one. Typically, this poses a lot of initial challenges that can be overcome by understanding where to begin connecting the dots.
It is estimated that almost half of all small businesses nowadays are expecting to grow and expand to more locations, with businesses such as retail, restaurants, small manufacturing, and the like spearheading this phenomenon. To make the transition effective and smooth, however, and in order to cut down on costs and time, it is necessary to think ahead and start organizing as if you will be expanding aggressively at any given moment.
Retaining separate network infrastructure for each location after expanding is not very cost-effective or safe in the long run, and consolidating and centralizing the IT infrastructure should be the main priority initially. This will mean setting up a system that enables staff to securely access a remote central location.
Consolidating your business by moving your IT infrastructure to the cloud may be the best course of action if your concern is cutting costs, providing easy access to all data to all staff, and generally managing an organization. It also provides your IT team with the opportunity to resolve issues remotely and to be able to assist anyone quickly, ensuring little to no downtime.
To start centralizing your business with all of the above in mind, there are several steps that you are recommended to make to consolidate your IT first.
VPN (Virtual Private Network)
VPNs provide a safe, relatively inexpensive, and fast way of having your office location all on a secure connection. What a VPN does is basically enabling you to securely access sites via the public intranet and adds a layer of security that is important to an expanding business.
How a VPN works to bolster your security is by encrypting data on one side and then decrypting on the other, ensuring your data is safe. Virtual Private Networks are also managed from one location which makes them excellent solutions for growing businesses as when maintenance is required, your IT staff will not have to be on-site to manage the process.
Thanks to the boom of the VPN services in general, it is now far easier to obtain it and set it up than was the case several years ago. With full support for your IT department, your business can thrive with the usage of VPN, whether you are hosting a platform that is always online or just managing a remote production line.
Taking it to the Cloud
Cloud service is something that every company needs to have, whether it is spanning multiple locations or not. Having a secure and safe space online to store all of your data is a great way of helping your workers obtain easier access to the information that they need and makes their daily tasks easier to perform. Streamlining processes, making everything up to date, saving space on local machines – the cloud storage service can do all of this and so much more for you and your business.
VPN and cloud go hand in hand, simply because by obtaining VPN services you can make the cloud much safer and, believe it or not, easier to access for every single one of your employees. Obtaining both the cloud and the VPN is definitely a must and it will enhance both the security of your data and the support that you can provide to your employees.
The fact that you can have any kind of information, be it crucial or trivial, related to your business at the tips of your fingertips at any given time is definitely priceless, so purchasing a cloud service is more than recommended when managing multiple offices.
Another thing that is crucial when going through expansion is understanding that your staff is human and they will need to be able to coordinate work and plan together. This seems simple but even the slightest disconnect may cost business money – employees that are able to communicate and collaborate easier and happier and more productive.
Apart from using email services and having the data in the cloud, promoting the use of communication applications such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, and many other similar apps is extremely beneficial to maintain the teamwork standard high and ensure that employees feel like part of something great.
In addition to that, when physical gatherings are not possible or viable, consider using services such as Zoom to host gatherings and meetings online, and connect your locations as often as possible.
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, it is good to be aware that expanding businesses are often a target of malicious attacks. To prevent any breaches, any upgrade to your infrastructure may require careful analysis by an IT expert to ensure no incident occurs during this transitional period.
It is estimated that almost half of all cyber crimes involve smaller businesses as these do not have security protocols in place or they have weaknesses due to inexperience. If necessary, hire an IT consultant or consider outsourcing remote IT support and managed services as these experts can help your business stay safe and secure in the long run.
Either way, investments in the cyber security systems are well worth your while and will most certainly help you sleep soundly at night, as well as allow your business to thrive unimpeded.