Business

Is Your Business Making These Costly IT Mistakes?

oopsThere’s no getting away from it – IT is more important than ever in the world of business. But whilst virtually everyone knows how to use a computer these days, businesses of all sizes routinely make costly mistakes when setting up and running their IT departments. Even though computers have made great strides in terms of user-friendliness, this masks a deceptive learning curve for businesses looking to get best value from their computer departments.

Decision makers, who often lack the technical knowledge needed to make significant savings, are often guilty of making the wrong choices for their department. By following some best practice, however, it’s possible not only to catch up but to stay ahead of the pack. Here we’ll look at some of the costlier IT mistakes that businesses regularly make and how they can be avoided.

Inadequate security measures

We all know to be wary of malware, viruses and security breaches, but sadly some businesses still take a blasé attitude towards security. This is a dangerous game to play, especially when sensitive data about clients and finances are stored on a system. For those using Windows this will almost certainly necessitate the use of a comprehensive security suite – and the free versions generally don’t stack up.

Failing to back up

Security breaches aren’t the only way to lose data. What if your system fails at some point? Is your important data backed up? Some companies are still using outdated methods such as magnetic tape to do this job. Cloud storage is a modern solution that has been gaining a lot of traction, but it’s important to sign up to a package that suits your needs.

Overpaying and underpaying

Making savings in IT requires technical knowledge, or at least access to people with that kind of knowhow. It’s often a case of having the right tool for the job, and for every software package the price is going to vary. A free trial of an antivirus program is nowhere near an adequate security solution, but on the other hand there are entire operating systems that cost literally nothing that can outstrip their proprietary counterparts. Businesses have started to realise that making use of FOSS (free and open source software) can result in big savings over the long run, but each program needs to be carefully weighed up before it is incorporated.

Improper training

Most people are able to familiarise themselves with new hardware or software after a short time, but some things just have to be taught. That’s where training can make a difference. After all, anything used improperly or inefficiently will start haemorrhaging money soon enough. Training is just as important for an internal department as it is for any outsourced IT support needs. In order to properly train employees, the training must not only be engaging, but must also be refreshed periodically to keep pace with technology.

Working without a plan

Large companies have chief information officers and IT managers whose job it is to take into account the budget and objectives of the business when drawing up a long-term technology strategy. Smaller firms don’t often have that luxury, but the same principles need to be followed. Any businesses working without such plans are liable to end up with an incoherent hodgepodge of solutions that don’t function effectively. Some of the most catastrophic IT failures happen because the new system doesn’t work with the company’s existing business processes and procedures.

Putting plans into action also means taking a proactive approach with regard to risk. “The majority of businesses are guilty of taking a rather reactive approach to IT,” says Frank Goodyear of Sysop. “Instead of maintaining and improving their systems proactively, they attempt to fix any IT issues only after they have already happened.”  That’s advice that all businesses should heed.

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Scarlett is an avid blogger and web columnist with a love of all things shiny and sleek.

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