Slow time of the Year?

In most of the jobs that I have had, this time of the year (November to January) can be the slow months of the year.  With most parts of the year sometime we can end up shelving projects or running checks, but this time of year we can easily get complacent with just relaxing and taking things easy.  Yet this is the time of the year where I find it easy to unshelve those things we been putting off during the year, and making sure things run a little more smoothly in the new year.  Here are my top 5 suggestions:

Audit you Software:
Before the new year gets you bogged down, look though all your licensing information and map out what software you have and when/if you software needs to be renewed/upgraded/shrunk/expanded.  Doing this and added a calendar entry when these licenses need to be dealt with (and give yourself enough time to make the decision) will help keep your software up-to-date and even could help you save some money in the long run.  If like many businesses your workforce has decreased in size, then when you renew you may be able to lower the amount of licenses, saving money in your budget for other important things.

Audit User Accounts/Computers:
Throughout the year, I can tell you sometimes when someone is let go, you just disable their account or change the password and move on. This is the time to go through all user accounts and trim off the excess.  Having a clean and accurate user list can help you do many things in the year, like knowing how many active accounts you have out there.  Also you can grab spare equipment laying around and put it back into your storage, so when new people start, you won’t need to look around for a computer, you’ll know exactly where to go.  Also cleaning up unused accounts and computers is always smart in means of security.

Maintain Equipment:
With many people taking off for the holiday season, now is the perfect time to make sure the machines are updated and cleaned.  We’ve all encountered a trackball mouse that is rendered inoperable because of gunky build-up.  By making sure the computer itself is physically clean, you might be able to extend the life of the system.  I couldn’t tell you how many times I could clean a PC or Server to learn that the fan wasn’t running correctly because of dust build-up.  Also make sure to replace any equipment that looks like it’s fraying or about to go bad, doing this during the slow time, can really help when things pick up and those things break.  Now as I note, don’t spend all day cleaning PCs or Servers to a shine, just enough to ensure there aren’t any problems.

Check Backups/Images:
I’ve found this is the time of the year to also look at your data recovery ability.  I’ve been in companies where we’d backup data nightly and never test if the backups would be viable in an emergency. This is the time to run a test and make sure that in a worst case scenario your data is viable.  Also check through any images that you might have to make sure they are up to date, which can save time in the deployment of newer systems.

Review Inventory:
This is the time of the year (if not earlier) to get an updated status on your inventory.  I always tried to do this closer to the end of the year, because it’s generally when budgets for next year are due or starting to be written.  This will give you and idea of what you have gone through and what you may need for the up and coming year.  Plus I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run into a situation and didn’t know if I had the equipment or not.  It’s easier to order within this time frame, than to have to rush for it later.
Now this isn’t the definitive list, and I’m sure others out there have their own to-do lists at the end of the year, but these are what I find helpful to use during this slow period.  If you have any ones that you think should be listed here, please send me an e-mail and if it’s good, I’ll mention it here on my site.

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