Whether it’s dealing with customers, technical issues, or other employees, it’s important for everyone involved in a small business to know where they can find the resources they need to get the job done. Investing time and energy into any task that takes away from focusing on the core business simply cannot be tolerated in a successful small business. Every month small businesses devote countless hours to tasks that drain their precious resources. Time can’t be wasted searching for the right file or form or updating PC software, for example.
Investing in a server and creating a server-based network for the small business creates a number of efficiencies. A server changes the way that small businesses handle information by making small businesses more efficient in the way they communicate with partners and employees, collaborate on projects, and secure the information that is vital to the business.
Here are five ways that buying that first server for the small business will increase efficiency and allow employees to concentrate on the core business.
1. Easier Access to Information
Once a small business grows beyond more than one person or PC, the files and data that the business depends on can become more difficult to track. Peer-to-peer networks, which are popular among small businesses without a server, only work when all of the PCs are available and connected to the network. USB drives and Web-based e-mail are popular ways to transport and store data, but they present security risks and aren’t an efficient way to find and share files.
A server provides a centralized, secure repository for all of the important files that make small businesses go. Administrators can create, edit, and delete registered users of server-based networks to help control which users have access to the information. Applications that live on servers, and the information they contain, are available to users with accounts for those applications.
Using secure remote access technologies like virtual private networks allows employees to access information from laptops when they aren’t physically in the office. The ability to remotely connect to a server-based network means even a small business with one employee can benefit from using a server if they spend a lot of time on the road, visiting clients, or working from job sites. Gaining access to e-mail and information from mobile devices like a BlackBerry or Windows Phone requires a server to manage users and security. Small business employees need to quickly and easily locate the information they need regardless of their location. Introducing a server-based network keeps information organized and accessible to those who need it with more reliability and security than peer-to-peer networks and ad hoc methods of storing information.
2. Gain Control of E-Mail
Having a server allows small businesses to create, use, and control e-mail addresses on their own domain, which gives even the smallest of businesses a more professional image than using a free e-mail service like Yahoo! or Hotmail. Small businesses can turn to a hosting provider to get e-mail using their domain name, but like any outsourcing relationship, that means giving up some amount of control.
Buying a server and hosting e-mail lets small businesses control the creation of e-mail addresses, aliases, and distribution lists. This level of control makes it easier for e-mail to grow with the company. Even more important than the e-mail addresses is the e-mail data. Businesses of all sizes rely on e-mail for communication with employees, customers, partners, and suppliers. Maintaining control over all of those communications is not only convenient, but it has legal implications as well.