Coronavirus (COVID-19): An IT Guide for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises

Every business has been impacted by the global Coronavirus pandemic, and Calgary businesses are no exception.

Business leaders have been forced to adapt to achieving business continuity with a remote workforce while quickly adjusting to the changing needs and expectations of customers, clients, and employees.

To help you navigate these uncertainties, The ITeam has put together this IT guide for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

How Can I Keep My Business Open?

With many businesses being determined as non-essential and being forced to close their storefronts, business continuity becomes a matter of quickly ramping up online services, establishing remote work teams, and utilizing cloud services to ensure that they can still remain operational. We recommend taking the following steps:

Create a business continuity plan

A business continuity plan provides SMEs with a comprehensive list of steps, resources, and responsible team members needed to maintain normal business operations during an unplanned disruption.

Step One – Assess Your Situation

  • Appoint a business continuity coordinator who will be responsible for gathering the information needed and serve as a liaison to others.
  • Identify the core business functions that are impacted by not being able to work from your office. What functions occur in your office that need to be accessible to your employees from their homes?

Step Two – Plan and execute a relocation strategy.

  • Do you need to supply employees with virtual machines at home to connect to your network?
  • Are there apps and programs, that you use to serve your customers, that need to shift to the cloud so that employees can access them from their homes?

Step Three – What security measures do you need to take to ensure your data is protected?

  • Do you need to increase your VPN service for your remote employees?
  • Are you requiring employees to use a password manager and 2FA for all access?
  • Do your employees have appropriate defense measures installed on their personal devices?

Step Four – Review your finances-Determine how the disruption will impact your finances.

  • Can you meet your basic costs?
  • Are there areas where you can cut back?

Canada is offering SMEs a variety of programs to help them through the financial impact of the pandemic, including help with meeting payroll, extended deadlines for tax payments, and low-interest loans. Learn more about Canada’s economic response plan. There are a number of resources available through the CFIB, too.

How Do I Keep my SME Operational for an Extended Period of Time?

In the beginning, it may feel almost impossible to keep your business operational during such a major disruption, but you will discover that technology, innovation, and motivation are pushing businesses to be more creative, and customers are being more understanding about how businesses are meeting their needs. The most important factors for maintaining business continuity during a disruption like this is communication and collaboration.

Microsoft Teams is already available for managed service clients as part of Office 365, but the tool is also a secure way for teams to communicate, especially those who are concerned about the security of Zoom. It’s an excellent tool for collaboration.

We continue to ensure that we have our resources focused on supporting your organization through the COVID-19 challenges. As expected, we have seen an increase in requests from clients who have not previously planned for a work-at-home scenario.

If you need help navigating your remote workplace, we are offering our clients – at no charge – Microsoft Teams training sessions to help get them connected and working productively and efficiently while being out of the office. Please reach out to your Account Manager or Client IT Manager for more information.

IT Infrastructure

Outsourcing with The ITeam can help you ensure that your IT infrastructure and security are protecting your small or medium-sized enterprise.

We provide on-demand support and flat-rate IT services that can lower your costs. In addition to regular infrastructure concerns, the pandemic has allowed for an inordinate number of phishing and cybersecurity attacks to be unleashed. To keep your data safe from such an onslaught, it’s important to train employees to recognize phishing and scam emails. Start by reviewing our phishing report and download The ITeam email security guide.

Microsoft O365 E1 Trial Offer

Microsoft has updated their offer of free Teams for 6 months to a 6-month trial of Microsoft Office 365 E1. This allows The ITeam to provide our customers with more remote work scenarios. New customers, Exchange Online customers, and Office 365 Business customers can experience Teams as a hub for collaboration that brings together chat, meetings, and Microsoft 365, all in one place.

Reach out to your Client IT Manager or Account Manager if Microsoft Teams Training or the O365 E1 Trial are something that you think would benefit your team and your organization.

The ITeam Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic

For The ITeam, it continues to be business as usual under unusual circumstances. Most of our team members are working remotely, to minimize internal and external social contact. Fortunately, much of the support we provide our clients can be conducted remotely. If any support requests do require an onsite presence, then we are taking the following steps to ensure the health and safety of both our team and the staff of our clients:

  • On-site visits must be approved by senior management or key client contacts prior to an ITeam resource arriving on-site.
  • We have further increased the hygiene and cleanliness protocols of our service technicians by ensuring that they practice enhanced workstation cleaning when servicing any hardware. Additional antiseptic cleaning supplies have been provided to our technical team so that they can fully wipe down all surfaces, including, but not limited to, the following: keyboards, mouses, touchscreens.
  • They will carefully dispose of cloths immediately after use and wash their hands thoroughly with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

For more information about how to protect your SME, visit the Canadian Chamber of Commerce website and review the Pandemic Preparedness for Business guide.