IT Checklist for the End of the Year


When a new year is about to roll around, it’s a great time to reassess your IT practices. It’s always better to be overprepared when it comes to your online security, data storage, and all things IT! We’ve compiled a helpful checklist of items to ready your systems and hardware for the change of the year.

1. Backup data

We’ve all been there—your system crashes, and you lose hours of work, sometimes days, sometimes months! You may lose data due to a glitchy migration, software corruption, natural disaster, human error, or cybersecurity breaches. No matter the cause, the end of the year is the perfect time to optimize your data storage practices so you have a failsafe if the worst does occur.

You’ll want to keep three copies of data as an industry standard. One is a primary backup and there are two made as substitutes. Save the backups to two different storage locations. Save one backup offsite. This is called 3-2-1 backup strategy, recommended by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. For more information on data backup options, access their document here.

2. Backup contacts

So much in business relies upon whom you know. Many businesses utilize a full CRM capable of tracking each interaction with contacts and a variety of other personal data. While this platform should be digitally secure, it’s best not to rely solely on it to store all the information.

By exporting contact information into a .csv file or spreadsheet, you’re creating a safety net in case your primary recording method fails. Remember to store this according to the 3-2-1 rule. Hopefully, you’ll never need it!

3. Update passwords

To reduce cybersecurity risks, it’s essential not to have your passwords stay the same for years on end. Breaches in this kind of information can lead to greater data compromises, and your whole system may be at risk.

Depending on your business size and the number of accounts, applications, etc., if you’re not already using a password manager, you may want to invest in one. Investigate and select a platform that offers the information security level you need to protect the data of your clients, employees, and business.

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4. Clean up hard drives

Removing redundant or irrelevant files streamlines processes and increases productivity. On top of this, consider looking at the file structure as a whole and naming conventions. The goal is for new employees to begin work and immediately be able to locate the files they need to do their job.

An intuitive file structure should include clear pathways that home in on information step-by-step. As a best practice, folders that contain other folders shouldn’t also contain loose documents. Further, assign names that are clear to all, not using code names or abbreviations. On the other side of the spectrum, avoid file names that are too long—keep it to the point.

After looking at the structure and names, delete files that are outdated or won’t be needed again. If you’re concerned that a file might be needed to be referenced again, create an archive folder that is only available to IT.

5. Reassess hardware + software

While it’s best to be assessing your technology footprint throughout the year, now is a great time to ask if the hardware/software best fits your business needs. If you’re not certain of your true business needs, locate the company’s strategic plan to align your IT with it. Also, asking the head of each department what their technology requirements are is a great way to build rapport and see where improvements may be made. With the leadership team, consider the financial aspects.

After you’ve gained perspective, look at the IT assets and ask: is there something out there with better features, costs less, or is easier to use?

6. Document standard operating procedures

You never know exactly what’s coming in the New Year. Shifting situations can cause confusion and employees may come and go. Creating a system of reference saves future training time and maintains structure. Document your standard operating procedures so if you or your team encounter trouble, you can quickly assimilate resources into your day-to-day operations, saving you time and tedious questions!

7. Install updates

While it’s best to be staying on top of the latest and greatest, the end of the year is a great time to implement the newest features and capabilities to keep business running in peak form.

Occasionally, updates may cause system crashes or strange glitches…so you’re doubly glad you backed up all the data using the 3-2-1 method, right?? Work out issues now to have a fresh slate for the new year.

8. Evaluate your website

Trends come and go—is your online presence stuck in 2008? Having a website that looks like it’s from 20 years ago undermines your business image as a whole and makes you look less trustworthy to potential clients. Conversely, hopping on the latest design can make you look flash-in-the-pan, which isn’t a good look for some businesses.

Consider what changes will provide the most improvement and promote online traffic. Asking a marketing professional for an opinion is a great idea, as well as researching SEO best practices to optimize the site.

9. Assess cybersecurity

Most importantly on this list, cybersecurity needs to be regularly inspected. Cybersecurity breaches cost businesses billions of dollars in lost revenue and work time. Test your system thoroughly for weaknesses, finding and fixing areas that need reinforcement.

Specifically, think back on the last year and any compromised passwords. Could there be any further ramifications from that breach?

How is client data stored? Are you providing them with the highest level of encryption available? What about employee data? While employees aren’t clients, having personal information leaked can ruin lives and companies have an obligation to keep this data under lock and key.

10. Appraise automation opportunities

Lastly, now that you’ve went through your list and looked at software, processes, and procedures as they currently stand, look towards the future.

Ai and automation’s capabilities are growing daily, at an exponential rate. What does that mean for you and your team?

Hone in on tedious standard processes, identify clunky departmental workflows, and consider areas that felt messy or ambiguous. Chances are high that these hold prime opportunities to free up time by automating. Research solutions and pick out those that are feasible to implement in the new year.

In conclusion

By working your way through these nine steps, you’ll be providing a solid base to start the new year with confidence. Remember, it’s always best to be overprepared—you never know when staff will shift, pandemics will strike, or natural disasters will take place. Enjoy a leg up on the new year with this preparation list!

If you have any questions about IT best practices or cybersecurity recommendations, Advisicon’s IT professionals are equipped with the answers—just reach out! Feeling overwhelmed? We offer IT services and can perform your system check and maintenance for you—no sweat! Learn more about our IT services here.