When you work at a big firm the first day on the job, your boss tells you about the company’s IT Policy. Big Business knows what happens without an IT policy, lost of money for the company. In all the companies I have worked for one line is always there: if these policy are not followed, firing of employees is what happens. When I work with small business and start-ups the thinking is more easy going about your business. The small business thinking is simple, yourself and have a couple of employees if there an IT problem we will cross that point when we get there. If the business is only ran by family then this think is great. You basically know what Uncle Phil will do on your computer. If he looks on-line at something he shouldn’t you can set him down and tell him that he can’t do this at work. This not the case when you hire employees, they come from all different backgrounds. What you and your business maybe find not the thing to at work, they might think it just be normal.
So what a small business owner or start-up to do? This where big business has spend the money and knows the importance of an IT policy. As a small business owner or start-up you should have one too. The first step to understand what a IT policy is and how it can protect you business.
If you have little kids or know little kids, they like going to the park. The swing, monkey bars, and the digger thing is hours of enjoyment. Every kid from the neighborhood is there and even kids from other area that their parents drove in. If you notice most of the time all the kids are playing and having fun. If there is a problem the adults point to a sign and the problem can be stopped. What is this sign say? Park rules! The sign explains to everyone what expected when playing at the park. Even real simple stuff like no fighting, no bulling, etc. The thinking is the same with your IT policy, your outline what you expect your employees do when using the IT equipment. Some of this policy will look to be real common stuff. Remember, it maybe common stuff to you but it may not to your employee.
Just like the sign at the park you need to think of the things you don’t want happen on your business’s IT equipment. Back to the thinking about what you would think no one would do it the first place, for example, you never would download warez on a business computer. A warez is an illegal copy of a program that is put sharing website through peer-peer server. The simple reason not to do this is warez normal contain viruses, bugs, and worse the company that builds the program can sue you for stealing their program. Let look at some of the basic “don’t want to happen on your business’s IT equipment” points.
- Downloading and emailing porn. This no brainier for many reasons, so why list it? Simple put, you may not want this image for your business but your employees may find nothing wrong with it and download. Most of the besides looking bad for customers and vendors, downloaded porn can contain viruses and Trojan horses to hack your system. Plus, by having in your policies, you can protect your business from sexual harassment suits. Many times a firer employee could say that because you say nothing they thought it was “okay.” Say “no” before there is a problem.
- Use of business email. When you work at a big company, the company’s system is for business use only. The reason and thinking behind this that emails that are “chain letters,” forward jokes, etc. can contain viruses and Trojan horses that could infected the whole IT system. Big companies are also worried about law suits. The law suits happen when an employee may forward a joke or email that is discriminatory to one group to another company or employee. There is no assurance that person that gets the email may find it funny and worse think your whole business share this way of thinking. For example, Fred in marketing just got forwarded an email (what he believes is funny) about dating. He forwards to an employee he believe needs to lighten up. The employee that get this email is anger and files a law suit against the company for not stopping it. You as a small business owner might face the same problems. You should decide how much you would like to limit personal uses of your business’s IT system.
- Download photo files and save them on company’s IT systems. We all have a soft heart if an employee want to keep a photo of their sweetheart and kid on the desk at work. We may not want the same on the desktop of the business’s computer. There are many reasons for this and they are to protect the IT system. Here short list
- Files of photos can contain viruses that can infect the computer. Today’s photo files can hide information within the file and still look normal. For example, I once was trying to remove a virus from a computer. The user explain that they want this new desktop image. Everything great until a week later, the computer started acting weird and the desktop changed. The first thing we did was run the anti-virus software until delete the virus. Every time we ran the anti-virus software it deleted a part of their desktop image. Sadly, we ended to restarted the whole system.
- By saving personal photos on a business’s IT system it blurs the line between personal and business. If the line starts to blur, your employee may not take the needs of your business as important. This can lead to other problems. The main problem is employees using business IT equipment for personal uses on business time.
- If the employee quits or is firer, the photos will be hard for the employee to keep, thus making hard feeling. Even know this sounds silly, you never know who you may work with in the future. Many people in business believe no matter the situation, always treat people fair.
- Downloading programs on business’s IT system. Every business has slow time. This slow time could between orders or the slowing of the holiday season. This slow time it’s normal for employee boredom sets in the need to download a game program. This thinking could be big trouble for your IT system. Because your IT system may contain information that can help a hacker and these programs are just bait. Now keep in mind not all programs that are downloaded from the Internet are bad. I use a lot of that have been downloaded from the Internet but I always try and check where the program comes from. Things like warez sites offer great programs for free that could be full of virus and bugs to mess up your IT system. You as a small business owner must decide if want your employees to download anything.
- After you write your policy and tell your employees about it, what the happens of if it not followed? Just like the sign at the park, if you break the park rules they tell you to leave. You as a business owner must decide what happens if someone breaks your IT policy. Some businesses have the believe that first mistake is grounds to fire. Where other businesses believe that you should have three warnings. First, told what you did and ask not to do it again. Second, a written letter explaining what part of the IT policy you broke and asking you not to break it again. Third, your firer. You the small business owners must decide what works for you.
That is all you need to start writing your IT policy. Keep in mind that simpler language makes it easy for everyone to understand. Nothing is worse than letting a good employee go because a misunderstanding. With an IT policy your business can have a happy place because everyone will know where the stand with your IT system.