Top ten IT mistakes that could cost you money
IT can be expensive - this is a fact that many businesses have to come to terms with as they grow. But trying to avoid the outlays associated with business IT can end up costing a business much more.
Here are our top ten mistakes that could end up costing your business money.
Desktop PCs, laptops, servers - the idea of keeping all of the office and mobile IT kit in your business up-to-date could leave you feeling weak at the knees but it is essential to keep up with the increasing demands that businesses place on their IT infrastructure. Failing kit can cause frustration among employees and lead to downtime when it falls over. To avoid the worst costs associated with outdated machines you should always take advice before purchasing any new IT - speaking to your local IT specialist can help you to understand the best IT kit for your current needs and future plans. It is also sensible to invest in quality - don't buy the cheapest or the bare-minimum machines.
No structured network
Although not so common nowadays, we still occasionally walk into businesses where staff are working on Wi-Fi alone with no structured cabling. This causes bottlenecks that affect the performance of everything from connecting to printers to sending simple emails. Ethernet networks are relatively inexpensive and are far superior to operating over Wi-Fi - no matter how good your connection might be.
The wrong software
'Making do' with software really should be a thing of the past - but it isn't. Archaic software can lead to downtime or low levels of productivity and staff can quickly become despondent when they can get a far better user experience on software they use at home or even on their phones for free. At the same time software that is 'hacked' to suit a situation or even not fit-for-purpose at all can also cost money. We understand that not every company can afford bespoke software but do your research thoroughly before committing to your key software solutions and provider. If you are choosing your main business software (such as an accounting package or stock management tool) then shop around, get recommendations, ask for demonstrations and don't be governed solely by price.
No central data storage
If it is a server, NAS (Network Attached Storage) Box or purely cloud-based solution your business should hold central storage for all company data. Having important documents or information stored on a single user's machine is a potential financial catastrophe. Use of central storage also needs to be enforced with all staff (yes, that includes company directors!) because IT kit can (and will) fail.
Your central data storage also needs to be backed up regularly. Many businesses now favour a remote back-up of servers or NAS Boxes because of the risk of a major event (fire, flood etc.) happening in their building. This can take the form of a secondary cloud-based backup stored on the large servers of a reputable provider or perhaps a secondary off-site machine that tracks incremental changes of data and copies it over the internet.
Email on website servers
If you are running your email over your website hosting then stop! Hosting companies tend to 'give away' a number of mailboxes with web hosting and it can be tempting to believe that this is the right solution for your business - especially for a new business where money is tight. Other than reliability (which can be a problem at the cheaper end of web hosting provision) the main issue with this is growth. Where your web hosting provider may give you ten mailboxes of 500MB each you will soon outgrow this and migration costs time and money. It is best to take the plunge with a service such as Hosted Exchange or Google Apps at the beginning to avoid having to move everything a few months down the line.
Don't think 'it will never happen to me' or 'we are too small to be attacked' because both statements are untrue. From picking up a virus to having your server hacked the costs of having poor IT security can be astronomical. In fact some companies may never recover from a major security breach. Always seek the advice of an IT security expert to help you secure your business data.
No internet usage policy
Letting your employees surf wherever and whenever they want is a mistake. Not only can hours of productivity be lost to Social Media or cat videos but it can leave the door open to viruses and other unwanted software. Although total restricting internet access is an option it probably won't make you very popular or indeed help when your staff really do need to Google something business related. One option that businesses may consider is giving employees access to the web from selected machines that are not directly connected to business critical networks or internet sites could be blocked based on a white and black listing policy. Whatever the solution adopted it is important to reinforce any internet usage policy through employee contracts and human resources.
Not planning your IT for the future can be fatal for a business or at least very difficult to recover from anyway. Businesses should always consider IT provision alongside all short, medium and long-term growth forecasts. If you are tendering for that next big customer then consider any IT infrastructure, hardware and software upgrades needed to service the contract when compiling your cost and pricing analysis.
Going it alone
If you don't have a dedicated IT manager or department within your business then it is worth speaking to a professional IT support company to manage your IT for you. Even if you have a reasonable grasp of IT yourself, don't be tempted to try to manage your IT provision as well as the daily running of the company.