Information technology is a critical part of business operations. When things don’t work the way they’re supposed to, it can result in unplanned downtime, interruptions in client service, and lost productivity and income. Following IT best practices is essential to protecting your people and intellectual property, too. When starting a company, there are four main IT mistakes business owners make, which become more problematic the larger they grow.
They don’t compartmentalize company information. When you work with only a handful of people who all wear many hats, they typically need access to a wide range of information. Often, a single shared drive is used to store documents and data, and everyone has equal permissions. But if you don’t compartmentalize and implement restrictions as you grow, many hands in the pot could increase your risk of losing important information – simply by editing or moving files. As you add employees, it’s best to segment information by department and give people visibility into only those areas necessary to do their jobs.
They’re reactive rather than proactive. No one likes to spend money on preventive maintenance. When your business is first starting out, you’re usually just focused on making payroll. And as you grow, other expenses compete for priority. I understand the temptation to back-burner IT updates and replacements when technology isn’t yet broken, but doing so could result in bigger issues later. Aging hard drives, expired antivirus software and out-of-date programs not only increase your exposure but also slow productivity. And when they do finally break, you could end up paying more for rushed or interim equipment due to lack of planning.
They don’t address physical security. Most people are aware of – and many have been victim to – online scams, phishing attempts or virus infections. It’s true that scammers digitally target those without a protection plan. However, business owners often overlook building security as a part of their precautions. Depending on your industry, a physical location might house large amounts of sensitive information. Good exterior lighting, a security system and a few extra steps to lock things down before you leave the office could help ensure it’s all there when you return tomorrow.
They wait too long to enlist a professional. Most small businesses don’t require a dedicated IT person on staff. So, the job falls to whoever is willing to take it, or it’s “outsourced” to a friend or family member who is “good with computers.” Unfortunately, many people know just enough to be dangerous when it comes to technology, and after getting copiers connected and the internet up-and-running, most other IT work gets neglected. Talk with a third-party IT company early to set your business up for success and scalable growth. Get referrals from people you trust, vet their references and agree to a scope of work that makes sense for your company. Don’t sign a contract for more than you need, and be sure they deliver what they promise.
When you put blood, sweat and tears into building a business, take the necessary steps to protect it. Because it can either cost you now or cost you a lot more later.
Blog by Dean Robinson, Director of Information Technology.
Category: Information Technology Team