More Connecticut businesses are expanding their workforce, and with staff expansion come new pressures on IT departments to accommodate new employees. Business productivity is increasingly being driven by computer technology, so it’s important to get new workers connected to the company network as quickly as possible. With all the other responsibilities the CIO and IT department have, supporting new hires typically is not high on the list. Keeping pace with an expanding workforce and expanding computing demands is what keeps Connecticut businesses competitive, which is why more IT departments need to adopt new strategies to keep pace with staff expansion.
The Connecticut Department of Labor reports job growth across the state with a steady rise in employment from 2010 until now. Most of that growth has been in non-farming sectors, so you can bet that more many of those jobs are for positions that require computers. Whether new jobs are being added for white collar jobs in an office, or for skilled trade positions and lower paying jobs such as food service, every job these days requires computers. In restaurants, for example, wait staff are being equipped with handheld computers to handle orders, and those computers have to be networked, managed, and updated regularly. Every business has come to rely on computers, and that means someone has to be responsible for setting up employees on company computer systems.
So what do new employees typically need from their IT department? The specifics will vary based on the nature of the business, but there are some basic elements that are common to every growing CT business:
Provisioning New Hardware
Whether it’s a workstation in an office cubicle or mobile point-of-sale systems, new employees need new company computer equipment to do their jobs. That means the IT department has to provision new systems, including wiping hard drives from old computers, loading new software, logging and tracking company equipment, and more. Chances are that the company won’t have extra hardware available to configure in advance, so it will take time and company resources to repurpose existing equipment with the right software and credentials. Equipping new employees is often a good excuse to upgrade aging equipment, but new systems still have to be commissioned and old equipment decommissioned.
Access to Computer Resources
Every employee will need secure access to the company’s network. That means providing credentials and authentication. Depending on the employee’s job function, authentication will have to be provided to specific company data assets but not others. For example, a new worker will have to have access to email, departmental printers, etc., but do they need Internet access or access to sensitive information such as personnel files? IT needs to maintain authenticated access to specific company assets, including managing data access as employees’ roles change. For example, most workers work for a probationary period before engaging in full-time employment; credentials may need to change with full-time employment status.
Mobile Computing and BYOD
Today’s employees tend to be mobile, which means they need to access email, company documents, databases, and other resources remotely. Companies are either equipping employees with laptops or tablets, enabling them to use their own smartphones and mobile hardware, or both. That means the IT department has to be responsible for bring-your-own-device (BYOD) strategies as well as securing systems beyond the office using VPN integration or secure servers with added authentication and encrypted data transfers to be sure data is safe when it is accessed remotely. You never know when an employee will log into the company network from an unsecured coffee shop or some other location that could expose unprotected intellectual property.
New employees will require training in company procedures and monitoring to protect intellectual property. For example, is an employee transferring sensitive documents to their personal Google Docs to work on them at home? Are they sharing company files with friends? Are they accessing unauthorized data using “borrowed” credentials? Whether potentially damaging activity is due to ignorance or malicious intent, the best way to uncover these types of problems is with system monitoring, including setting real-time alarms where possible and logging system activity.
Controlling Unauthorized Software
A common problem is users adding their own software to their systems. Whether they are playing games online, using unauthorized chat applications, or just loading unauthorized plug-ins on their favorite web browser, unsanctioned software can create compatibility and security issues. IT managers typically block the ability to load unauthorized applications, but when you authorize employees’ BYOD you need to redouble your antivirus protection and watch for unauthorized apps that could affect the network.
To simplify the IT department’s job and save money on new hires, more companies are outsourcing many of these onboarding IT functions to managed services providers. Using a computer service-for-hire makes it easier to accommodate new employees without disrupting planned IT operations. The IT managed services company can be tasked with provisioning new workstations, managing passwords and authentication, managing software licenses, and much more using the latest asset management tools. They also can handle remote systems monitoring for suspicious or unauthorized activity, and provide systems security including password management and malware protection.
More Connecticut businesses are coming to understand the importance and the pressures of staff expansion. That’s why they are turning to managed service providers to outsource systems provisioning, management, and security.