Businesses survive, thrive, or die based in part on the quality of their IT management team. It only takes one catastrophic incident or data breach to wipe out years of work, resulting in bankruptcy, civil liability, or even worse. Whether you’re a Chief Information Officer, business owner, or IT team leader, keeping the company safe is your job.
Here are some common IT management mistakes, and how your business can avoid them.
Day to day, IT operations are fairly simple. Employees experiencing tech difficulties fill out a ticket, an IT team member resolves the ticket, and work continues. Easy, right? The pitfall is the danger of falling too far into this comfortable routine and not taking the necessary time to think about the future.
As an IT team leader, ask yourself what you want your department to look like in six months. How about a year from now? Five years? Ten? If you’re a team leader, think like a business owner. If you’re a business owner, think like an IT manager. Collaborate together on how you can shape the IT department to support the long-term goals of your company.
Did you know that around 40% of cyber-attacks perpetrated by hackers are carried out against small and medium-sized businesses? These companies usually don’t have the money necessary to implement the type of security you’d see at a Fortune 500 company, making them attractive targets. Client data can be stolen from unsecured databases, or malware can hold critical servers for ransoms of up to $100,000.
The disaster doesn’t even need to be malicious. An obsolete but critical server could go down for good, or a fire in the IT room could wipe out all your business records.
Fortunately, you don’t need Fortune 500 level security to keep your company safe from these attacks, as long as you periodically (think quarterly) evaluate and update your security protocols. A good IT team conducts regular security penetration or catastrophic disaster recovery drills and tests. These tasks can reveal potential gaps in a business’ infrastructure before they become critical. Many “white hat” security consultants are available for hire, who will attempt to get at your company’s important data – and then tell you what worked, what didn’t, and what you should change.
Not Staying Current
Technology moves in cycles. What is cutting-edge becomes standard and then falls into obsolescence. This is true for hardware (servers, computers, monitors, peripherals), software (operating systems, antivirus protection, business suites), and even programming languages.
An IT manager or CIO might look at the cost of updating infrastructure or paying for employees to retrain in crucial skills, and balk at the cost. Surely that money is better spent elsewhere? But look at it another way: you can’t afford to not update your equipment and team skills. Staying competitive in today’s market means staying on top of the tech trends important to your business.
As your company’s tech officer, make it a point to stay aware of trends, both today and what experts predict will become important in the future. Subscribe to online tech magazines like Wired or Tech Republic. What are the new data storage solutions on the horizon? Which programming languages are getting a new version? Carve out space in the budget to cover these costs, which will pay dividends in the future.
If there’s anything that 2020 has so far taught us, it’s the importance of running a business that can quickly and efficiently change their policies and procedures on very little notice.
Ask yourself how your company managed the switch to telework or work from home. Some hiccups are to be expected, but were you able to seamlessly transition your teams and departments to operating from a primarily online infrastructure? Did you have to cut any corners or make important sacrifices? Did you already have a relatively tech-savvy employee base, one that needed relatively little hand-holding to adapt to the new reality?
If there were more bumps in this road than you expected, consider enlisting the aid of a consultant. Companies like Wavestone US specialize in helping companies transition to a telework model. They know exactly how to properly tailor a transition plan for businesses of any size, and can even help train your employees in the new skills they may need to start working from home full time.
The biggest threat to any IT department is complacency. Tech changes day by day, and a good IT leader can anticipate these changes and prepare for them. And for things that can’t be prepared for, the department has disaster recovery plans already in place. As long as you have these measures in place, your business will thrive.