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Every business that uses computers, the internet, software, and other applications on a regular basis not only needs reliable IT support in Darlington or wherever the company is located, but also relevant IT policies in place. Information technology support is necessary to allow other organisational operations to run smoothly. IT policies, on the other hand, provide employees with guidelines about what is required and expected of them when using technology and related resources within the organisation.
Both large and small businesses need to protect themselves by having policies that govern areas such as email and personal internet usage, software and hardware inventory, security, and data retention. It is also necessary that managers identify any potential lost time and productivity during work hours due to personal internet usage. Common cases of personal internet usage include:
• An employee circulating an email to the entire company informing them that interested individuals can find a catalogue of gift wraps for his/her child’s school fundraiser in the break room
• An employee browsing the internet and perhaps watching videos while the software on his/her computer is being updated
• The company deciding to hire an in-house graphic designer who needs a Mac complete with graphic design software and other applications that require regular updating. Who is responsible for buying, configuring, updating, and maintaining the system and applications?
Considering the cases above, written policies are necessary to establish standards for reference when sticky and status quo circumstances arise.
IT Policy and Procedure: What’s the Difference?
Policies and procedures refer to distinct entities that are used in tandem to support IT operations, decisions, and strategies. While policies refer to specific statements of strategy and principles providing a “why” and “what” basis for consistent decision making and planning, procedures provide the actionable activities and steps necessary to translate ideas into action.
Policies can be implied, whereby they do not exist in documented form, though they have become part of the organisational culture due to repeated patterns of action; or expressed, whereby they are established through thorough planning and applied via formal action. Procedures are always expressed, since they comprise a series of laid out steps and activities that should be executed in a given order when a specific need arises. In the work environment, expressed and implied policies usually co-exist and are supported by procedures.
When creating IT policies for your business, there are six key areas that should be addressed:
1. Technology standards: guidelines to establish the type of hardware, software, and systems that will be bought and used at your business, as well as those that are prohibited, such as mp3 music download applications or instant messengers.
2. Acceptable use of technology: guidelines for the use of the internet, email, computers, telephones, fax machines, and voicemail, as well as the repercussions for misuse.
3. Disaster recovery: guidelines for data backup methods and data recovery in the unfortunate event that a disaster strikes.
4. Security: guidelines for levels of accessing the network, confidentiality, passwords, virus protection, and data usage.
5. Network set up and documentations: guidelines stipulating how the network should be configured, permission levels for employees, licensing of software, and how to add new staff to the network.
6. IT services: guidelines to help establish how technology problems and needs will be addressed, long-term technology planning, and who in the company will be responsible for installation, maintenance, and employee technical support.
Establishing and enforcing policies and procedures that work for your employees and company will help to keep things in order, even as your outsource your IT support in Darlington or wherever you are located.