The key to growing your business you might be missing

If you’re a small business owner focused on growth, you’re already invested in marketing and scaling up your ability to deliver goods and services. One thing you might be overlooking, though, is a software-based tool that can support your company’s growth through data collection, sharing and workflow automation. This tool is known as an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, and it’s so important to modern businesses that the market share for ERP software is expected to grow to $49 billion by the year 2024. Here’s what you need to know about modern ERP solutions and how they can help your business grow.

What is enterprise resource planning?

Put simply, ERP systems are software solutions that bring processes from many different parts of a business operation together under a single roof. ERP solutions can be used to manage everything from finance and accounting to customer relations and product distribution. Tying these different departments together through a unified software solution allows for easier data collection and sharing between departments. All this leads to making your business more efficient and productive.

Keep your business growing

One of the most important advantages of implementing a modern ERP software in your business comes in the form of improved workflow. ERPs provide for automated workflows that will take your employees through tasks in a step-by-step manner, making it less-likely for oversights to occur. In this way, your SMB can exert higher levels of quality control on its processes and spend less time correcting human errors.

A modern ERP solution can also support your company’s growth by providing you with valuable marketing insights. Thanks to their ability to collect and share data, modern ERP platforms can be used to measure the effectiveness of growth strategies such as expanding into new markets or penetrating further into existing ones.

Using operational insights produced by an ERP solution, your business can refine its marketing, adjust pricing and even develop a more complete customer profile for future targeting.

Improve customer service

Of course, the benefits of a modern ERP solution aren’t limited to the back end of your business. ERP software can support the customer-facing side of your SMB by providing improved systems for inventory control, sales and even customer relations. When your team can communicate and collaborate easily through a unified ERP platform, your customers are likely to have a much better experience and encounter fewer difficulties.  

Cloud-based ERP solutions offer strong security protections that can be managed by a third-party vendor without draining your limited resources away from more critical tasks. If you want to keep your SMB on track for sustained growth by implementing good data security and cybersecurity practices, a cloud-based ERP solution can be a useful tool.

Conclusion

From improving efficiency and use of resources on the back end to supporting your marketing efforts and customer relations on the front end, ERP software solutions can provide incredibly useful tools for driving business growth. By making it easy to collect and share data between different departments, a modern ERP system can help your company make the best use of its resources and improve the customer experience it provides.

If you want to maximize the growth of your SMB, consider having your IT staff or managed services provider implement an ERP solution that will meet the needs of your company.

How to calculate the ROI of your ERP system

If you have an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system in place or are considering implementing one, you’ve probably wondered if the investment will pay off in the long run. Today’s ERP systems are more advanced than ever when you get into the things they can do now vs. just a few years ago.

At a basic level, an ERP system integrates the various functions of a business into one complete system with the aim of streamlining business process and data across the entire organization. It accomplishes this with a shared database that supports the multiple functions used across your business. This includes inventory and asset management, ordering, accounting, human resources, customer relations, and more. It can be a massive undertaking and can incur quite a bit of investment depending on the type of business. Naturally, you’ll want to know if your return on investment (ROI) is worth it.

Before you conduct an analysis of your ROI, ask yourself if you have given your ERP enough time to provide an accurate picture of its effectiveness. Popular opinion is that you should wait at least three years before conducting such an investigation. Five years would be even better and more accurate.

If you feel that your ERP has been in place long enough to warrant a look, here are some points to consider when examining the ROI on your ERP system.

Cost

Keeping a close eye on your IT budget is an obvious place to start when determining if your ERP system is providing measurable benefits. The most evident savings is going to be in hardware and software. As your ERP is most likely cloud-based, you’re not spending money on acquiring expensive equipment and paying your IT team extra on upkeep and repair. You also aren’t going to be paying for software licenses and upgrades. All of those should be covered by your cloud service.

Another cost point to look at is how your ERP system is contributing to the efficiency of your business and employees. Hopefully, you’re paying for less overtime with an established and consistent ERP in place.

Productivity

With a consistent and central integration of your business data, your employees should be spending less time organizing your business data. While this saves on payroll, it also improves workflow by unifying the process across your entire business, saving you time and aggravation in trying to get all of the data and employees on the same page.

This also results in less of a need for oversight and enhances any compliance processes you may have and lower auditing costs.

Asset control

Initiating a new ERP system can help improve inventory control and planning, eliminate waste, and improve your procurement process. This includes having a solid view of your supply chain from start to finish.

A majority of the benefits of an ERP are going to boil down to cutting down on waste in departments across the board. Whether it’s in the warehouse or in the IT department, an efficient ERP is going to help you identify where spending can be reined in so profit remains high.

Visibility

Customers like seeing a business that operates in a consistent and efficient manner. Considering how a positive customer perception can affect sales is something else to consider when measuring the financial impact of your ERP. By shortening fulfillment times and exhibiting good quality control, your customers will become more committed to doing business with you.

How do the numbers look?

Chances are that you’re going to find the numbers are on your side. While the financial benefits may not be apparent within the first couple of years, continued usage of your ERP system should show increased profits from a combination of savings across numerous departments and in how business is conducted overall and the technology is only improving.

It takes work, some investment and time but it’s a process in which you’re going to want expert guidance. While it sounds like a lot of risk, the larger risk is not keeping up with the technology available to improve and grow your business.

How to choose the right ERP solution for your business

All businesses use technology. The most successful businesses have learned that by integrating it into their very core, they can make technology work for them in new and exciting ways. Enterprise Resource Planning, better known as ERP, is designed to manage the most important parts of your business. By using adaptable, cloud-based technology, ERP can accelerate your business, making you more efficient and competitive than ever before.

We have compiled this guide to help you choose the right ERP solution for your unique business needs.

Related reading: 5 signs you need an ERP system

Goals and processes

When you consider ERP systems it is very important to have a clear understanding of your immediate and long-term business goals. In addition to goals, consider the way your business operates. What are your needs? Where are your shortcomings? Have these things clearly in mind before you begin the process of comparing ERP systems. Each ERP system is a little bit different. It is important to choose a system that works with your existing business processes and best practices and will provide assistance where you need it most. Doing so will ensure a cohesive match and as little interruption as possible when it comes to product integration.

Compatibility

As you begin to review ERP systems, you will want to look beyond the technology itself. Consider systems and software you already have and use on a daily basis. Is the ERP compatible with these systems and programs? If not, are there affordable alternatives that you are willing to consider? In the long run, choosing an ERP system that is compatible with existing technology will save you both time and money, as well as the frustration of learning too many new things at once. The simpler the integration process, the happier everyone will be.

Related reading: ERP is about to get friendlier and smarter

Training

As you compare and contrast ERP systems, consider whether training is an important aspect for you and your business. The training that is offered may differ considerably between systems. You should inquire about the following: whether training is included in the cost of implementation or is a separate fee; the scale of training available; training method (i.e. in person, video conference, etc); and whether there are manuals or other supplemental materials available.

Some businesses underestimate the cost and necessity of training and find they do not have the resources needed for training, in order to use their system to its full potential.  

Budget

For many small businesses, a budget will be at the top of your list of concerns when it comes to choosing an ERP system. For this reason, it is imperative that you remember to consider all associated costs, including implementation, licensing, training, and on-going support. Talk to potential ERP providers for a detailed list of fees. You certainly do want to choose a system that you are comfortable paying for.

That said, while the price is a factor, it should not be the most important one you’re deciding. Choosing a system that is cheap, but poorly suited for your business can have negative long-term consequences. On the flip-side, if you choose to spend a little more in something that is better suited to your goals and needs, a well-suited ERP system can positively impact both efficiency and profits. This is one product that is worth viewing as an investment.

More reading: What ERP means for your small business

Comparing cloud ERP to on-premise

Effective enterprise resource planning (ERP) is key to maintaining a successful business, with the advantages outweighing the costs when companies choose cloud computing over IT on premise.

By 2021, 28 percent of all IT spending will be used to support cloud-based infrastructure, middleware, application and business process services, according to GartnerConfidence is growing among enterprises that Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), along with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), will be able to offer a secure and scalable platform for application development in the future.

Evaluating ERP needs

According to IDC, more than 85 percent of enterprises will soon tap into multi-cloud architectures using a mix of public cloud services, community clouds, private clouds, and hosted clouds. The time is ripe to migrate to this technology. There have been significant advancements in cloud ERP, and the versatility of the technology still enables companies to save money if they plan well for their migration to the cloud.

Taking this into consideration, there are still many factors companies should consider when choosing between cloud ERP and the standard on-premise infrastructure. In addition to the financial and labor costs of migrating to the cloud, the most effective solution depends upon business needs.

Consider your organization’s size and scope, the expectations of your customers, the regulatory environment, the demand of workloads on cloud migration, and how your IT team defines the cloud. To manage cloud infrastructure efficiently, you’ll need to have the correct people and tools in place.

Advantages of cloud infrastructure

The cloud offers companies more agility, giving CIOs the flexibility to form cloud-based solutions that are catered to their company. Cloud ERP provides many benefits to companies who are willing to put in the time and resources to make the switch. It can be especially beneficial to startup companies, small companies or even mid-sized companies, by stimulating business growth while limiting operational expenses.

As the technology matures, companies can offer advanced data security and cybersecurity, while also helping your team save time, reduce risk and work smarter. With access to IT devices and programs that are usually reserved for larger corporations, you can also become more competitive in the marketplace.

With cloud ERP, companies can also enjoy a wide variety of options for IT solutions, choose solutions that scale well and have their choice of service providers. The management provided by an off-site team lends an added level of confidence to IT infrastructure. As an added benefit, companies often experience fewer downtimes.

Reasons to maintain on-premise technology

As you consider whether to migrate to cloud ERP solutions, it may be advantageous to perform risk analysis on behalf of your company. Take into account the collaboration needs of your firm, as well as financial operations, training operations and auditing.

Companies in heavily regulated industries may find that it’s not beneficial to migrate all operations to the cloud. The risks also increase for companies that employ more than 500 workers, as the size and scope of the migration will be more complex.

The cost of the switch varies greatly depending on the nature of a company, what infrastructure is needed, and whether the company moves fully to the cloud or opts for a hybrid option. Choosing a firm that will lead you through the process, and offer a cost-efficient solution is essential. This should consist of meeting and planning stages, steps to architect and design solutions that fit into the master plan, and a smooth plan for management of your IT solutions.

Depending on the timing of a migration, you may decide that it’s best for your company to maintain on-premise solutions. This can also be advantageous if your team is not fully prepared such a migration because of its size and scope.

An Introduction to the Management Suites of Acumatica

Technology provider Acumatica offers a flexible platform that can adapt for various small and medium-sized businesses. If your business is in manufacturing, distribution, service or even a technology startup, the news gets even better ─ Acumatica has programs specifically for your enterprise resource planning needs.

Since it’s been integrated from the start, it works seamlessly with your current systems. In fact, Acumatica serves up so many benefits that its offerings may seem overwhelming to some. Fortunately, this chart may give your business a good idea of what’s available to companies of varying sizes. 

Who is Acumatica for?

Virtually any type of business, small to large mid-size, can use Acumatica once it has outgrown basic accounting needs. From the Cloud ERP Small Business Edition, usually for the smallest clients, to the Cloud ERP Enterprise Edition, for larger companies, each has the business process monitoring and automation along with advanced financial management you need. Optional add-ons include advanced inventory management, order management, customer relationship management, and fixed assets.

  • Start with just the basics and add the optional modules when your business needs them
  • Offers dashboards and up-to-date data
  • Full mobility for smartphones and other devices
  • Coverage of full-function accounting, including purchase order processing, cash management and inventory management
  • Customer relationship management module offered

No matter how much or how fast you grow, Acumatica has an ERP package for every stage or your business growth plan. Acumatica offers multi-company, multilingual and multicurrency support for retail, field service, project accounting, manufacturing, distribution and tech startups.

Pricing based on resource consumption

Cost savings

Rather unusually, Acumatica doesn’t charge license fees based on per-seat figures (the number of users who can access the product). Instead, it bills on the number of resources your business consumes. That means small business conducting a moderate number of transactions should expect to pay less than a larger company conducting more transactions. 

You can also get a private cloud for a subscription billed monthly. Alternatively, you have the option to purchase a perpetual license. Acumatica provides multiple pricing tiers so you can choose what works best for you.

For sure, it’s a different way to do pricing but can be really welcome for growing businesses, seasonal companies or companies that have a constantly shrinking or growing user base.

Focus on manufacturing, distribution and service

Acumatica’s products do have a focus on manufacturing, distribution and service operations ─ for example, supporting lot and serial numbering as well as bill of materials and routing functions. However, if you’re not in these industries, Acumatica can still be extremely effective and user-friendly. You may need more third-party add-ons, but Acumatica will still get the job done well.

On its website, you can hear success stories from companies in diverse industries like farming, healthcare, e-commerce, hospitality and software.

Whatever your goals for ERP success, Acumatica stands out for several notable reasons, including ease of scalability, customized solutions for many industries and pay-what-you-use pricing.

Talk to your managed IT services provider about possibly adding Acumatica as another weapon in your business’s toolkit ─ especially if you’re looking to enhance your marketing operations or to improve enterprise resource management.

5 Server Maintenance Tips and Tricks to Better Support Your Business

Each and every day, you likely go about your daily business without giving your server much thought. They typically operate 24/7 without much hassle, but like all machines, they do require some level of maintenance.

This is why you need to take a proactive approach.

As you monitor and maintain your server, you will be able to help prevent a possible failure — one that could quickly turn into a disaster. To help guide you, we have created a little tips and tricks checklist. That way, you can avoid costly outages and unnecessary headaches.

Consider These 5 Server Maintenance Tips and Tricks

Unlike larger companies, you may not yet have a dedicated IT department. If this is the case, you may be currently weighed down by technical tasks that are somewhat out of your wheelhouse. The following tips and tricks are intended to guide you. However, if you are completely in the dark, it’s best that you seek the assistance of a managed service provider.

In the meantime, consider the following:

Tip #1: Update your OS

This may seem obvious. However, there are many businesses that are using outdated operating systems, leaving their companies vulnerable. All it takes is one attack, like WannaCry, for you to face a highly disruptive, potentially detrimental situation. The key here is to regularly update your operating system so that it supports regular patch releases. If you don’t, you may not have issues for months, even years — but eventually, an unpatched server will catch up with you.

Related: 9 Things You Can Do to Outsmart Ransomware Attacks

Tip #2: Clean your server

If you have your server tucked away in a closet, it’s important to physically clean it on a regular basis. Although quality servers have fairly powerful fans, that does not mean that dirt and dust can’t settle in the server’s case. This will increase the temperature within the case, potentially leading to a range of issues — including a potential fire. If your server has filters, clean them on a regular basis and use compressed air to access hard-to-reach places.

Tip #3: Check for potential hardware errors

Review your company’s system logs in order to identify signs of hardware issues. From network failures to overheating notices, it is important that you’re aware of how your hardware is operating. This is particularly important if your system has not been running as expected recently. However, even if there are not any apparent issues, checking your logs for hardware errors should become a standard part of your server maintenance strategy.

Tip #4: Confirm that your backup server is running properly

You may have already gotten into the habit of checking your backup system on a weekly basis. However, are you actually verifying that your backups are working as expected? Often overlooked, this step is imperative in regards to a solid backup plan. Even if you decide to outsource this task, you should still have a firm grasp on all the elements within your plan, including the schedule, backup location, and recovery times.

Tip #5: Move to the cloud

The cloud has allowed companies to reduce to reduce outages, which is why you should move at least a portion of your infrastructure to the cloud. This step will help you streamline your operations, hosting, data storage, and more — all while increasing speed, flexibility, and overall peace-of-mind.

Still in need of support? Please feel free to contact us regarding your IT service needs.

Also, be sure to read the following helpful resources:

6 IT Best Practices for Your Business

When it comes to the growth and long-term success of your business, you must actively address your IT needs. Although each organization is unique, there are basic IT best practices that every business should know.

The best way to approach these best practices is to break them up into specific areas so that they become more manageable.

From cybersecurity to an effective disaster recovery plan, it is imperative that you follow these suggested best practices in order to protect your business.

Cybersecurity

IT best practice #1: Create and promote a cybersecurity culture

It is imperative that you create a modern security culture within your workplace. The best way to do this is to educate your employees by holding regular meetings. Whether you’d like to discuss the threats associated with phishing emails, insecure networks, or password sharing, this the first step when aiming to protect your company from cyber attacks — many of which are continuously evolving.

IT best practice #2: Develop procedures to prevent ransomware attacks

It is critical that you develop an in-depth cybersecurity policy, ensuring additional levels of security. Whether that means running scans on a quarterly basis, maintaining an up-to-date inventory of your devices, or automating software updates, you need to sit down and create a preventative plan. This helps prevent ransomware attacks as you develop proactive cybersecurity habits.

Data backup

IT Best practice #3: Implement the 3-2-1 backup rule

The strategy is rather simple. Regardless of the size of your business, you should keep three files of your data. In addition to the original data, it is recommended that you keep a minimum of two backups (two locally and one off-site). You can read more about the 3-2-1 backup rule here.

IT best practice #4: Use the cloud as a backup solution

The cloud will allow you to back up your data on a remote or off-site server. In turn, your most critical data will be better protected. This storage solution is also highly flexible and allows for a more rapid, reliable recovery process in the case of a disaster.

Please note: Best practices in regards to cloud backups include frequent backups, backup testing, and encrypting your most critical data. To avoid downtime, remain compliant, and gain greater peace-of-mind, learn about how you can craft an effective cloud backup plan here.

Hardware/software maintenance

IT best practice #5: Ensure your hardware and software is up-to-date

If you leave your server unpatched, do not install the latest firmware, or avoid fixing the latest software bugs, you could become vulnerable to attacks and/or lost productivity.

Last but certainly not least, whether you are concerned with your company’s current cybersecurity strategy, are unsure how to effectively perform backups, or would simply like to enhance the overall productivity of your business, this leads us to the final best practice.

IT best practice #6: Outsource your IT needs

If you do not currently have an internal IT team, or there are components of your IT support that you’d like to take off-site, managed IT services can handle all of your needs.

Not sure if you’re ready to partner with a managed service provider? Here are 5 signs that will help you determine if it’s time to make this crucial transition. For more information, you can also reference the following — 5 Ways Managed It Services Help Growing Businesses.

Looking for further support? Have questions about how you can take your business to new heights? If so, please contact us today!

2018 Cybersecurity Trends: What Your Business Needs to Know

SMBs usually place cybersecurity a few places down on their list of important issues, mainly because they think hackers target the big guys: those corporations that bring in billions of dollars every year.

This belief is a myth.

Those big businesses routinely spend millions on cybersecurity, making them much more difficult to breach. Hackers often turn to companies that do not focus on these security issues, which is why half of the 28 million small businesses in the United States have already been hacked. Medium-sized businesses are also in danger of the same fate.

No matter the size, your business needs to focus on these 2018 cybersecurity trends to keep your data safe from thieves.

Password Policy Updates

CSO: 63% of confirmed data breaches involved leveraging weak, stolen or default passwords.

You and your employees have heard the following password warnings for years:

If you are like many people, you have often ignored this advice, making it incredibly simple for hacking software to determine your password, often in seconds. Your company needs to enforce these password rules to keep your data safe.

Related: Include These Key Steps and Elements to Create a Solid Cybersecurity Strategy

Since almost no one can memorize passwords for each of their accounts, you should install a password manager app for every employee. Your data will be safer, and your staff won’t have daily password breakdowns.

Employee Education

WeLiveSecurity: 70% of employees in some industries lack awareness to stop preventable cybersecurity attacks.

Every business needs to teach basic cybersecurity classes.

Many viruses and ransomware attacks come through email attachments that are carelessly opened by innocent employees. No one should ever open an attachment from an unknown source – in fact, your employees should check with the sender of an attachment before opening it to make certain it is a valid document.

Related: Bad Security Practices that Hackers Love

Some email providers automatically scan attachments for viruses. Make certain that your email provides this service. If it doesn’t, see if they have a procedure for downloading documents so that they can be safely scanned that way.

Stay up-to-date on current virus and phishing schemes and alert your employees to them. Simply being cautious can save the company thousands or even millions of dollars.

Secure Devices and Networks Through the Cloud

Gartner: Cloud-delivered security products are more agile and can implement new detection methods and services faster than on-site solutions.

You need to inventory all of your company’s endpoints and devices and know exactly where they are and who is using them. Someone can easily take home a company laptop or tablet and let their family members have access to it. Sensitive company data can easily be shared in that instance, which can lead to serious problems for the company.

Also, no one should do company business on an unsecured WiFi connection. First, check that your company’s firewall, virus protection, and internet connection are all up-to-date and secure. Then make certain that no one is using company computing devices on a open connection at a coffee shop or similar location. Hackers commonly use these security lapses to steal important data.

Related: 6 Cybersecurity Myths That Are Hurting Your Business

You should use cloud protection platforms to monitor the status of your organization’s security. It allows for anytime, anywhere access that can save you a lot of trouble in the event of a cyberattack.

Final Thoughts on 2018 Cybersecurity Trends

SMBs are popular targets for hackers who can steal company and customer data, leaving everyone involved exposed to financial loss. These internet thieves consider smaller businesses easy marks because… they usually are.

You can protect your company from serious cybersecurity problems by partnering with an SMB security specialist that can handle your security for you. We’ve got experience in protecting organizations like yours.

We’ll make sure that no matter what comes your way, your data will stay your own.

Interested in learning more? Contact us today to get more information or to get started.

Bad Security Practices That Hackers Love

When you think about hackers and security breaches, you often associate these attacks with large corporations. Although major security attacks do impact large businesses, small-to-medium businesses tend to be the easiest targets for hackers.

Unfortunately, smaller companies often don’t have a dedicated IT team to enforce digital best practices, leaving them vulnerable to criminals.

Luckily, even if you do not have a deep understanding of IT practices, you can still protect your company through good due diligence — all while avoiding common pitfalls that hackers love.

Be Mindful of These Bad Security Practices

You have likely heard about security best practices. However, it’s also important that you take a proactive approach in regards to bad practices. After all, only around 14% of small companies rate their ability to reduce cyber risks and attacks as highly effective.

Address the following bad practices as soon as possible in order to mitigate cyber-security risks.

Bad practice #1: Only implementing an “all-in-one” antivirus scanner

Back in the early 90s, all-in-one antivirus scanners were effective, as they were able to detect the dozens of worms and viruses lurking out there. Unfortunately, times have changed. Thousands (if not millions) of malware programs are released monthly, many of which will go undetected.

To protect your business, you need a combination of tools in a unified platform that is easy to manage. This platform should take care of things like file sharing security, email security, routine system scans, and more.

Bad practice #2: Reusing passwords

Many people have a “go-to” password, often using it across multiple online accounts. This has led to some major data breaches in the past, as hackers are able to easily steal a copious amount of information by just knowing a single password.

Each account needs to have a strong, unique password. Make sure each password is at least six characters (but the more the better) and that it includes a combination of numbers, letters (both lowercase and uppercase), and symbols.

Bad practice #3: A lack of training

One of the biggest issues associated with cybersecurity is human error. Whether your staff ignore security updates or is unaware of phishing scams, poor training and a lack of awareness are incredibly dangerous for your business.

Many companies do not make cybersecurity training a priority until it’s too late. Be sure to meet with your staff on a regular basis to discuss the latest techniques and methods, as well as recent trends and dangers (especially in relation to malware email attachments).

Related: The 3-2-1 Backup Rule — Why It’s Important

Bad practice #4: Not performing regular tests

You may have implemented security measures in the past, but that does not mean they’re up-to-date. This is where regular testing or “fire drills” come into play. If you created a security response plan within the last year, you should run a hypothetical drill.

Ideally, you should be revisiting your security plans quarterly — but many businesses are now opting to run drills monthly. This also applies to your disaster recovery plan (as hackers are not the only risk involved).

Bad practice #5: Ignoring the dangers of mobile devices

Since many companies are transitioning towards a “bring your own device” arrangement, business owners need to consider where critical data is being stored and accessed. This is because mobile devices are typically easy to crack.

If you currently have mobile device management (MDM) or enterprise mobility management (EMM) solutions in place, know that these do not protect you against hackers and malware. This is something that you can discuss with a managed service provider.

Create a Better Cybersecurity Strategy Today

Beginning today, it is imperative that you take a proactive approach, focusing on your company’s future. After all, cybersecurity entrepreneur and IT security futurist, Neil Rerup, said it best, “True cybersecurity is preparing for what’s next, not what was last.”

Now is the time to create a solid cybersecurity strategy and if you require assistance, please feel free to contact our team our team today!

Data Backup and Security Best Practices

Thanks to automation and convenience, data breaches are becoming more prevalent.

Hackers are becoming savvier by using tools to infiltrate entire infrastructures. They’re exploiting cryptocurrency to circumvent identification. And, of course, they’re targeting ransomware attacks to procure funds with some added social engineering to divulge vital information from unsuspecting employees.

In other words, there’s a lot of different ways they want to get to your data.

These efforts often lead to costly data breaches, which cost U.S. businesses an average of $7.91 million in 2018. Without protected data backups, you can risk losing trade secrets and risk exposing sensitive and private customer data, such as Social Security numbers and addresses.

It’s vital to have data backup as part of your security strategy. Luckily, there are several ways to keep your data secure.

Here’s how you can get it done.

1. Have an Actual Plan

Having a data backup plan is the essential first step to ensuring the security of your data. You must develop a data backup plan that takes into account each step of the recovery process.

It should include a variety of elements, including:

  • The full process of how your data backups work (cloud-based, offsite, etc)
  • The plan for recovery from the backup site to your systems
  • The timeframe for getting your systems back up and running

Without a data backup plan, you’re putting your company at financial risk. Remember – planning for the worst is a whole lot easier to do before the disasters strike. Otherwise, you’ll be struggling to put pieces together from a broken infrastructure.

Related: Disaster Recovery Planning vs. Business Continuity Plans

2. Test and Audit the Data Backup Plan

Your data backup plan needs to be tested and audited so that you can quickly identify any vulnerabilities within it. With proper testing, you can ensure that your systems do not overlook critical updates and patches that hackers can easily exploit.

After all, there’s no better way to see how it works than to actually test the plan.

You should also audit your data backup strategy to ensure it’s up-to-date with the latest technology and best practices. In practice, this include reviewing user permissions, ensuring you’ve enabled multi-factor authentication, double-checking the proper encryption on your data backups, etc.

Related: The Critical Elements of an Effective Disaster Recovery Plan

By taking the time to test and audit your data back and security practices, you can reduce the chances of a data breach happening. And, if one does, you can boost your recovery speed dramatically.

3. Look to the Cloud

With any data breach, you’re bound to experience data loss.

That’s why it’s crucial to take advantage of cloud backup storage services. With cloud backup storage, you can easily access your data from secure remote servers that hackers will have a hard time accessing.

Related: 3 Data Loss Horror Stories

In the event of a disaster, cloud backup data also becomes crucial for providing access to your data. There are several options for cloud backup services, so ensure you choose services that align with your data backup strategy and recovery plans. You can also leverage the help of experts in data backup recovery to ensure that you’re using the best cloud backup services.

4. Prepare Your Team

From spear phishing to social engineering, hackers come up with several different techniques to infiltrate IT infrastructures. That’s why part of preventing data loss calls for ample staff education practices.

You should facilitate security best practices training and include it as a part of your data backup strategy. Though not strictly related to backup and recovery, the proper training in place allows your team to better identify vulnerabilities and plots by hackers to procure vital information.

With a security-minded team at the helm of your data, you can significantly reduce incidents that put your business in jeopardy.

Here’s Some Helpful Content: A Guide for Crafting a Small Business Data Backup Strategy