IT should boost your company’s profitability and empower your staff – but bad IT practices are holding back businesses from achieving their true potential. Here’s a few tips on how to prevent IT from interrupting your business.
1. Remember: Backup
Relying on a single source to hold all your information is the equivalent of professional suicide. If the hard drive containing valuable data should fail or an employee makes a simple mistake, you could lose everything. Always have your valuable data backed-up; whether it be on another drive or in the cloud. And most importantly, test your backup system on a regular basis – don’t simply ‘trust’ it to work…
“It’s not a question of if your hard drive will fail; it’s a question of when.”
2. Invest in Security
Cyber attacks on UK businesses are costing the economy £27 billion a year. So putting proper security in place is vital – from firewalls to fully-fledged (i.e. not free) antivirus/malware protection; get a plan or suffer the consequences. Draw up a clear policy about what employees are and aren’t allowed to do online, and whether they are allowed to use personal devices for work. Also remember that something as simple as creating a strong password can mean vastly improved security for your company’s data.
82% of companies don’t know much they currently spend on data protection (London Economics/ICO report 2013)
51% of the UK’s secure IT networks were breached in 2012 due to employees using their own devices (ExactTrak)
3. Upgrade Your Systems
Your server is the heart of your business operations – whether you realise it or not. And one day it will fail with potentially devastating consequences for your business. Bear in mind then that all technology has a set lifecycle – the general rule of thumb being between 3-5 years – so it’s essential to upgrade.
While we all wish we lived in a world where technology simply looked after itself, it doesn’t. Systems need to be monitored and maintained properly over their lifecycle by a trained professional – either in-house or by a trusted third party. The idea of such an ongoing expenditure might make you wince – but it’ll be dwarfed by the potential cost done to your business, its reputation and its bottom line if your systems should suddenly fail.
UK businesses loses one billion man-hours per year because of poor IT service (IT Industry Service Report, Rackspace)
4. Invest in the Right Equipment
Buying a cheap and cheerful piece of kit off eBay at a bargain price might sound like good business acumen to you and your bottom line. But you’d be wrong. Such hardware is fine for Bob who wants to use such tech at home for a few hours a week – but for a company that will be stressing the equipment with multiple users potentially 24/7, it won’t last. Invest in hardware that has been designed to withstand the rigours of punishing commercial use.
86% of companies experienced one or more instances of system downtime in 2011 (http://infographicsmania.com/downtime-cost/)
5. Plan & Audit Your IT
Many companies operate on the fly – buying equipment at the last moment when they suddenly realise they need something. This can lead to extra unexpected costs and create a system that isn’t joined up. A rushed purchase could also see you buying something that’s missing a vital feature that you only realise you need after the event. Keeping a proper track on your IT systems is also vital so you know what assets you own.
One-third don’t regularly audit end-user computers and of those who did not audit their systems, 34% said they found malware on end-user PCs. (Microsoft/IDC malware report 2013)
6. Stay away from Piracy
Think installing a cracked copy of vital business software will save you money? Or are you considering using a single licence across multiple machines? Think again – the list of dangers could be catastrophic for your bottom line, never mind the moral issues. Being fined; malware-infested hacks that leak your valuable data; software being disabled remotely by the software maker; vital security update roll-outs missed – the list is endless. Buy official now or pay dearly later…
The global software licence compliance watchdog, the BSA (Business Software Alliance), reports that more than 25 per cent of computer users in the UK admit to using pirated software – and among that percentage, businesses are the largest group.
If caught, expect to be fined for each piece of software plus the cost of buying the relevant licence – then factor in legal costs plus the damage to your reputation. In extreme cases, you can be jailed for up to ten years…
If you prefer to focus on making your business a success rather than worrying about IT, then the best thing you could do is to outsource your IT. Find out more about it by downloading our free Eguide: Why All Modern Businesses Should Outsource IT