Because we help businesses find solutions (that’s our name, after all) we often show others how to use software to make their lives easier. For example, Microsoft 365 has shifted far beyond an email and administrative tool. It can now manage almost everything a small business could need. It can replace your on-site server (Microsoft Azure). It can be a key part of your cybersecurity plan (Microsoft Defender). Those are just a few examples.
If you’re a small business using Microsoft in these ways, we are happy to hear it! Their software can automate parts of your business and make you more efficient, but there are 3 best practices you should continue along with it. They’re more manual than you might expect!
- Continue to Prioritize End User Training
When a business transitions to a virtual server like Microsoft Azure, they no longer have to pay for or manage an on-site server. This is a good option for many small businesses. At the same time, we also find they stop prioritizing end-user training. This is a huge mistake!
Employees still need training on how to store and access company data. We also recommend regular audits of who has access to any and all information. Microsoft Sharepoint makes it easy to share files and collaborate with employees (especially if you add Microsoft Teams into your workflow) But think about how many different people receive access over a decade in business. We recommend regular audits of this for better access control.
Businesses face operational problems even when using a comprehensive tool like Microsoft. As our team member, Tucker so eloquently puts it, “The problem isn’t silicon-based. It’s a carbon-based problem because it’s people.” Human error is still at the root of most of these issues, but people can also be part of the solution by prioritizing professional trainings and audits of the server.
- Continue to Back Up Your Cloud
Many people think when they move to the cloud, they automatically become more secure. This is a bit of a misnomer. Their data centers are certainly more secure because of the cloud. Microsoft has a larger security budget than probably any small business does. But as sophisticated as Microsoft is, they could experience an outage, and they operate from a Shared Responsibility Model to deliver their services. The figure below illustrates their responsibility and the end user’s. As you can see, we still need to consider protection from ransomware attacks and our own data backup strategies.
Also, many people don’t realize the data they’re storing in the cloud is only around 30 days after accidental deletion. For clients with compliance requirements like financial or legal entities, they need their data for a much longer period. If something was accidentally deleted over 30 days ago, there’s nothing Microsoft can do for you.
You still need a second measure with your data known as the redundant copy. They will probably both be cloud-based, but that’s normal. You’ll feel the importance of this practice if your data is ever lost or stolen, which leads us to our last point.
- Continue to pursue a comprehensive cyber security plan
Recently, Microsoft expanded their license to include Office 365 Business Premium, which includes Advanced Threat Protection, a cloud-based filtering service that protects companies against malware. It also includes InTune, which offers mobile device management and mobile application management so enterprise information remains secure while team members use their personal devices for work if they want.
These are amazing features that allow a small business to access more robust protection at a similar price point as the basic or standard subscriptions. But these features DO NOT take the place of a layered security plan or disaster recovery efforts that a managed service provider like our team can provide you in the case of cyberattacks. In summary, take advantage of what you have access to in Microsoft 365, but do so by continuing best practices. These technology tools are not exactly shortcuts. They should not cause you to lose control, rather they should empower you towards better management of your business