How to choose and implement a wireless network
There are many aspects to consider when selecting a wireless network to suit your business needs. You should always start with a networking needs analysis - find out what type of wireless networking do you need.
Wireless networking: options for small businesses
In most cases, your options will be:
- Local wireless solutions - these free up more space than wireless networks, but may not have enough speed for an office network.
- Wireless network solutions - these can provide shared internet, extranet or intranet access or connect non-cabled office spaces. They are a good option if you want to offer convenient network access to visiting employees.
- Mobile phone data networks or Wide Area Networks technologies - these can help mobile employees stay in touch and access the company's resources on the go.
Also, consider where it may be appropriate to use wired networks.
Plan the wireless network rollout phase
There are many things you will need to consider in the planning phase:
- Look at training needs - what will it cost? How many staff will need training and how long will it take?
- Consider the cultural impact - how will you feel if employees are not at their desks, or are away from the office? Can your business and staff adapt to this working pattern?
- You'll need to adapt your fixed and wireless networks to work together. Be aware that it can be difficult to monitor wireless devices, such as an employee's personal smartphone, accessing your network, so you may need to use specialised monitoring hardware/software.
- Aim to standardise hardware and set up robust security standards. Are your other systems, for example telephones, as flexible?
- Do you have the expertise and the resources to manage a wireless local area network (WLAN) and to train staff?
- Are you ready for the additional volume of communication that may be generated?
Implement your wireless network
Typically, implementation will require you to:
- Roll out any necessary training.
- Encourage staff involvement and feedback.
- Consider setting up a cross-departmental team to manage the implementation. It will help with staff buy-in and ensure that the process works company-wide.
Evaluate the impact
To evaluate the impact of your wireless network implementation, you should:
- Monitor and review the impact on your business against your objectives.
- Get feedback from staff, customers and suppliers.
- Evaluate the impact after six months and one year. Consider whether you have achieved your objectives and how you could improve things further.
If you're not sure which networking solution would best suit your business, seek advice from IT or business advisers. Businesses in Northern Ireland may be able to get help from Invest Northern Ireland.