Knowing how to set up a business computer network is essential for any small business owner. Whether the owner works alone or has employees, a computer network helps to streamline business processes, as well as reduces the cost of operations. The following guideline depicts the process of setting up a business computer network.
As with any business process, setting up a network requires doing things in a logical order. Here are the steps to take:
Analyze the system:
- Determine purpose for network - think in business terms , not computer terms.
- Review the business' processes- how can a network streamline or improve the process; i.e. administrative, customer relations, sales and marketing, production, staff meetings, relationship with suppliers.
- Potential business expansion- what will be the future computer needs if the company expands according to plans.
Audit current equipment- how can the existing equipment be integrated into the network, how can it be utilized for maximum benefit.
Plan out the system:
- Decide on equipment location, i.e. printers, scanners, fax machines, phones, and computers for maximum efficiency .
- Develop a budget and stick to it- calculate costs, including purchase or lease, installation, support, maintenance, and training; calculate potential savings, including replacing manual and paper-based processes, and reducing cost of extra equipment per person due to sharing, and money saved by reduction of time due to streamlined processes.
Determine security needs
- Think about who will be using the network, what access controls are needed.
- Potential data loss, sensitivity of information, viruses, hackers.
Select products and services:
- Conduct research - do some comparative shopping, remember that the devices and software must be compatible with each other and with the main computer's networking and desk operating systems, and that each product must adequately satisfied the company's current and near future needs.
- Consider what kind of support is offered or needed with each product and service.
Appoint network administrators- designate someone to be responsible for security, support, maintenance, and system back-ups
Install the network:
- Installation- Follow the product's manufacturer's instructions, or use a built-in networking wizard. Some routers and other devices provide setup wizards too.
- Remember that help is available from product support services and technological websites. Most networks simply require plugging in cables and running a software program provided on a disc.