Updated: Sep 19, 2020
“If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it!” or “It’ll be right mate!”…. too often I’ve heard these famous (or infamous) sayings used by decision-makers of small and medium companies. While I understand that SME might have other priorities and might not have the luxury of an in-house IT department, there are a few pitfalls that can be easily avoided and in the long run save thousands of dollars.
No Reliable Backups
“Why do I need backups, my data is stored in the Cloud?”
Cloud Storage (iCloud, Dropbox, OneDrive, etc…) are great solutions for storing files, photos, videos from your device to a centralised location aka the Cloud. You can access your files from any device and easily sync them. But cloud storage is not the same thing as backup!
If your data goes missing -- say your computer crashes or gets stolen – and if you haven’t been constantly moving your updated files to your cloud storage, then you will lose the files that weren’t manually uploaded. Even if file sync is turned on, if a file on a laptop is deleted or gets infected with malware, data gets deleted or infected on both sides.
In order to keep your data secure, you need to invest in a proper backup solution and make sure that the backups are not stored in the same location as your PC/Laptop (offline storage). Some backup solutions can have your business up and running in a matter of few hours, and there are many options to choose from to fit your needs. Some can be automated and require little to no work by an employee to manage. With the recent emergence of the “cloud,” company data can be stored virtually on a server as opposed to being stored locally on hard drives. This means that even if a natural disaster destroyed your business, your data can still be retrieved and restored.
Cheap is not the Best Option
As not all hardware is created equal, you need to understand that a cheap $50 router purchased from the local general store will not perform as reliably as a business class router purchased from a specialised store. Too many SME cut corners when purchasing hardware in order to save costs without realising the potential risks and consequences that could happen with repair costs, shorter lifespan and downtime. For all mission critical applications/services purchase business class equipment.
With the proliferation of SaaS (Software as a Service), it is very easy to sign-up for dozen of online business applications (accounting, CRM, email, etc..) but it might get complicated to get them to “talk to each other” or to be able to have combined data set in order to build reports.
Always check that the reporting tool and other applications can seamlessly exchange data between each other otherwise you might need to subscribe to additional software that will act as an unified data platform.
Set and Forget... The art of not doing regular updates
Regardless of the operating systems you are using, the most common being Windows or MacOS, it is critical to install security updates to protect your computers from malicious attacks. In the long run, it is also important to install software updates, not only to access new features, but also to be on the safe side in terms of security loop holes being discovered in outdated programs.
Not Prioritising Security
At a minimum small businesses will need anti-virus software, malware protection, and a strong firewall. Malicious individuals know that smaller companies make easier targets because many do not invest the time and money to implement solid security. It’s irresponsible to leave your business exposed to hackers and potentially devastating malware because it only takes one infection to halt workflow, damage your reputation, and lose important data.
You also need to think about a strong password policy to ensure users cannot use the same password used across different devices or applications. For example, do not allow the password used to access the WIFI to be the same one used to access a server where critical information is stored.
Not enough training
Not only do you need to be operating your technology efficiently, so too do all your staff members. If you have not provided enough training on the subject, you may find that they are struggling and things are not running as smoothly as they could be. In fact, it is estimated that the average person understands less than 20 percent of the functions that their hardware and software can perform. As a direct result of this, they may not be getting the most out of the systems which you have paid a lot of money to install in the first place. Therefore, it is worth taking the time to ensure that both you and your staff members understand everything as fully as possible. There are plenty of computer-based training aids which can help out with this. Otherwise, you can hire in some external training agencies to assist with getting all your staff members up to speed as quickly as possible.
Using under-qualified people
Speaking of managed IT services, making sure you choose a partner who has the experience and background to deliver the kind of support or training you need.
All MSPs (Managed Services Providers) are not created equal. Find out the history of any MSP you’re considering. How long have they have been in business? What do their customer reviews look like? Do they know your industry?
And take every kind of support you need into account, from VoIP to cloud solutions. Make sure you’re working with a partner who actually cares about YOUR SUCCESS.
Contact us on email@example.com if you wish to discuss your IT needs.
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This material has been prepared for information purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your normal source of expert advice before acting on anything.