By Charles Edge of JAMF Software
Do you use Apple devices at your small business? Is everything as centralized and organized as you want it to be? Maybe things are great and you just want to make them a little bit better. Regardless of your situation, spring is the perfect time to assess what you have, what’s working, what isn’t, and to clean out some of the clutter so that you can focus on efficiency moving into the rest of the year. Here are some top spring-cleaning tips you can implement to help make the most of your Mac, iPad, and iPhone investments.
(Photo courtesy of JAMF Software)
1. Close Accounts You No Longer Need
Any accounts or services you don’t actually use represent a monthly cost that adds up over time. It may be a small amount, but every time you see a charge you’ll realize there are better ways you can spend that money. Relieve your stress by clearing your mind. Gain focus on the things you choose to use, and do away with services you don’t use. You can always come back to them later, or, if you’re not using a service, you can always find another that works better for you in the future.
If you’re using services that have In-App Subscriptions, you can cancel them by opening the Settings app and scrolling down to the iTunes Store and AppStore option, tapping on your Apple ID, then “View Apple ID” and providing your password. From here, tap each “Subscription” to disable it or any Auto-Renew options for each.
2. Remove Duplicate Services
Invariably, as a business grows over the course of a year, new opinions, experiences, and ultimately ways of doing tasks are added. This often results in duplicative workflows that center around specific services. Look for these unnecessary services and apps in your company. Do you have a Box and a Dropbox account? Do you have Google Apps and Microsoft Office? Does your staff use both? Why? Sometimes you need two, but usually you don’t. Simplify your workflows by having as few apps for a given task as possible. This not only saves a little money, but it cuts down on confusion and the amount of time it takes to onboard new staff!
3. Delete Apps You Don’t Use Anymore
Every time you or your employees look at a home screen and see an app you don’t use, it wastes a split second of time. Every potential point of confusion offers an opportunity to streamline a workflow. Having too many apps not only obfuscates what a user actually needs to do, it also introduces the chance for a potential business process failure. Having too many apps can also take up needed space on your mobile devices. Take the time to go through every app on your devices with your employees (in a non-micromanaging way). The process will provide better insight into your employee workflows and where undesired change in business processes may have occurred. Some of those changes you may choose to ratify, while others you can dissuade.
Reviewing workflows offers an ideal time to centralize app ownership as well as organize them in a single Apple Volume Purchasing Program (VPP) account. Doing so allows you to centrally manage apps on your devices, meaning a simpler check-in in future years.
4. Organize Your Files
Google Docs, Dropbox, Box, and other services will store files in your home directory on OS X or within each app on an iPad or iPhone. Centralizing your files under a single app is one step to organizing them. Then, you can move on to creating a file hierarchy and organizing your files in a way that makes the most sense to you. Using one folder for each customer, one for accounting, one for marketing, one for sales, and then creating hierarchies within each of the departments or staff that manages a business function is always a good start. Consider finding the neat freak in the office to help with this. Be sure to have a quick session with your staff to update them on where everything is, otherwise they won’t know where to look for find files!
5. Remove Fonts You No Longer Need
Fonts can be a liability in a number of ways. First, they must be licensed. Any unlicensed use means violation of an agreement, making you subject to fines or damages. Secondly, fonts could cause your devices to slow down, or cause applications to crash. OS X has an app called Font Book that can be used to remove unnecessary fonts. While the ones built into OS X and iOS should be left alone, third-party fonts should always be used sparingly.
6. Clean Up Your Mail
Spam email can easily become a time suck, as sorting through them can take minutes here and there every day. Anti-spam apps like Unroll.me enable you to remove yourself from spam lists, and to put all the suspected spam you do receive into a daily digest where you can review it all at once.
7. Connect Your Apps
A crazy thing about the modern, app-based workflow is the fact that data lives in silos. Thankfully, there are a number of tools to help you connect your data, such as If This Then That. The free app lets you configure incredibly complex workflows, such as sending data from your scheduling tools to your Dropbox account, sending information from an email to a spreadsheet, posting a blog post to Salesforce – the possibilities are endless! Other helpful apps can plug into each of your cloud services, and Workato is another great solution that helps you easily solve your business’s automation and integration issues.
8. Remove Old Device Drivers And Devices You No Longer Use
Still have that hard drive that hasn’t actually spun up since 2008 but you think might work again someday? How about that printer that ran out of toner two years ago, or that Wacom tablet you lost the pen for? Get rid of your junk, and when you get rid of the hardware be sure to remove any data from the devices and any corresponding drivers from your computer. This might involve searching online for the uninstaller, deleting a printer from System Preferences for OS X, or forgetting a Bluetooth device on your iPad. Doing so might take a little Google mastery, but it can make your computer faster and become less error prone!
9. Change Your Passwords
In an ideal world, device passwords should be changed at minimum once a month, but this can be burdensome for a small business. Thankfully tools like Bushel can automatically configure iPads and OS X devices, as well as centrally manage passwords for secure wireless networks. By sending the new settings to each Apple device, it’s less of a pain to configure WEP, WPA and WPA 2 security standards to enable Wi-Fi settings securely. While this doesn’t help with other devices like Roku, Apple TV, and wireless printers, you’re likely using more iPads, iPhones and Macs anyway. The result is that most of your devices are covered, saving you plenty of time to set the password up on your other network appliances.
10. Review Your Device Security
Adequate security means something different for everyone – from having a computer password to enabling FileVault to much more. Take the time to clean up users in OS X (use Users & Groups from System Preferences) and disable any shared services you don’t absolutely need (use Sharing from System Preferences). You can check out additional basic security precautions in my book, or one of the many security guides available at Apple.com.
Whatever security means to you, backup will always be important. This spring, check to be sure files are backed up, and test a restore of a few of your business’s key files. And if you don’t have a backup tool yet, Crashplan from Code42 is a great one.
11. Update Your Device Inventory
Are you unable to easily keep track of devices in use at your company? Bushel makes it easy to keep tabs on your iPhones, iPads, and Macs, with export information like device number, model number, number of devices, purchase date, and various other details. This offers a helpful spreadsheet for depreciating assets at tax time. You may still need to grab information for devices like printers, but with your Apple devices covered, a lot of the legwork will be already have been done.
12. Review Every Contract
It’s worth checking in with your monthly cost centers – whether its your business’s bandwidth provider, credit card processor, or mail handler. Your service providers might surprise you by knocking off 10 to 20 percent of your contract to renew. Definitely check out the competition, even if you won’t go through the trouble of switching to another provider. It can’t hurt, and it gives your current service providers more incentive to keep your business!
13. Make More Money
Finally, stay focused on the goals of your organization. Use the newfound time gained from the above steps to improve your business – whether it’s tweeting more, improving your organization, or pushing the envelope in the quality of your services and products. This will ultimately be the best use of time, once your mind is free of the IT clutter that’s built up over the past year!
This article is written and provided by Charles Edge. Charles is the Director of Professional Services at JAMF Software, where he leads Bushel, a mobile device management (MDM) solution designed for small organizations and users with limited IT experience. He holds nearly 20 years experience as a developer, administrator and CTO, and is passionate about helping every day users manage and make the most of their mobile devices.
The views, opinions and positions expressed within this guest post are those of the author alone and do not represent those of CBS Small Business Pulse or the CBS Corporation. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are verified solely by the author.