Talented IT support professionals are often the safety net of your company for a multitude of technical issues.
However, tech stuff doesn’t always go to plan. Any number of things can – and do – go wrong. To make matters worse, a large percentage of IT mistakes that cost companies money could be avoided.
The irony is that most mistakes made by IT support teams are because the top brass wants you to find solutions on a limited budget. When you start cutting costs and plugging round holes with square pegs the risk of error increases.
Cutting budgets and corners without any regard to risk, workload, automation or process improvements will end up costing the company more in the long run.
It is inevitable that mistakes will be made in the IT department. Everyone makes mistakes from time to time. However, with due diligence, knowing what could go wrong before it does go wrong, increases your chances of avoiding IT mistakes that could be very costly.
In this article, we’re giving you a heads up.
1. Inexperienced IT Support and IT Management Teams.
The number of times I’ve heard an IT manager say they don’t need IT Consultancy or outside support, “That’s okay, our IT team know what they are doing with this Project, we can make these changes ourselves.”
Two days later, the call comes through. “We keep getting an intermittent network configuration error and don’t know how to fix it and we cannot work.” It’s time to get your chequebook out, as you now have an emergency requiring external consultancy and expertise, another hidden cost of internal IT.
In some cases, your in-house IT will be able to manage day to day IT installations, configurations, patching, application rollouts, firewalls, backups, email and many other responsibilities expected from IT Support Teams.
The latest cloud technologies, on the other hand, are not so straight-forward. Given these technologies are fairly new, not every member of your IT team will be au fait with cloud deployment and any number of things could go wrong during cloud deployment alone.
Unless you have a member of your IT team you can consider an expert in cloud computing, asking an employee to migrate your existing system to the cloud or make core infrastructure changes or updates could stall operations entirely.
Cloud computing differs from traditional IT solutions in a number of ways. If you do not have Senior IT Engineers, with the relevant experience, skills and understanding, you’re putting your business continuity at risk.
Even experienced IT technicians can make mistakes with new technologies they are not familiar with – like this guy.
Internal IT Support and IT Managers have a limited world view, they only know Your environment, they only experience Your Systems and over time their knowledge will diminish and could restrict growth or even become dangerous to your Business. They not only want to protect their role, so may take on tasks they really don’t have the skills for, they also may not feel confident to push back against upper management who want to do technology on a budget. Internal IT Teams often lack the breadth of experience and deep technical knowledge that is standard in larger and more worldly IT Support teams, found in a dynamic outsourced Managed IT Service provider.
The need for knowledgable and accountable IT support Partners that fully understand the ever-changing landscape of IT cannot be overstated. So don’t risk making costly mistakes. The most cost-effective solution is to partially or completely outsource IT management and IT Support to trusted partners.
2. Failing To Upgrade Hardware and Software
The second common tech mistake businesses make is retaining laptops, desktops, servers and old software for too long. Problems start when companies fail to plan and budget for hardware and software refresh cycles, often overestimating the length of time between upgrades and subsequently not having the budget to do when systems begin to malfunction and software becomes obsolete.
A common misconception is that computer hardware will last around 4-6 years. Computers, Servers, Routers and Networking equipment that are used in business extensively every day only function at optimum performance and reliability for 3-4 years.
You could try squeezing another couple of years out of a fading PC or Office Server device but it’s highly likely it will need unexpected repairs in the interim, cause your team frustration and might crash out in the middle of an unsaved report due to be delivered for a deadline. Repairs quickly become more costly than replacing a PC or core IT component once you add up support costs, downtime, loss of productivity or sales and possibly even lost opportunities.
The smart solution is to budget for and plan to retire and replace equipment when they go outside of the vendor’s warranty or become unfit for their original purpose, whichever is first. Also, standardise your technology stack with one Vendor, such as Dell, Lenovo or HP, and ensure you have same or next day Warranty support for repairs or servicing. Ensure that any software used in the business is centrally managed and kept at the same latest stable version level, avoid a mishmash of systems and software which just adds complexity and leads to increased support overhead due to that increased complexity and time required when troubleshooting, managing support, warranties and licencing.
3. Ignoring Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity should be a top priority for business owners of all sizes. Since the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force in 2018, businesses are subjected to hefty fines if they are deemed to have neglected implementing appropriate data security measures.
The lowest level fine is up to Є10 or 2% of the company’s global annual turnover. Companies that suffer a data breach typically go out of business within six months.
In addition, Gartner predicts CEOs of companies involved with cyber-physical systems such as the Internet of Things (IoT), will be held personally responsible for data breaches by 2024.
Sophos also reports that ransomware attacks on employees working from home have increased. Failing to train your staff and respond to critical cybersecurity alerts can mean malicious actors can access your network unchallenged.
There are at least 10 IT security risks you should be aware of.
It’s also important to ensure you have the right tools and bandwidth that can detect cybersecurity alerts. Also, work with an IT support partner that knows how to configure software and networks without exposing your network to vulnerabilities and educate your employees about the threats posed by cybercriminals.
4. Too Much, Too Soon
Companies that fail to plan properly or seek the right advice may install more IT equipment and software than their current infrastructure can effectively cope with, the result could mean unexpected power outages, downtime, slow performance, lost productivity – and probably a workforce of frustrated employees.
Typical situations include firms taking control of another company in a merger and without proper due diligence attempt to take control of the other companies IT infrastructure immediately without doing the necessary fact-finding, planning or testing to ensure a smooth transition.
Other common mistakes are when CEOs with limited IT knowledge want to expand quickly or invest in the latest buzzword technologies. They go ahead with a rushed upgrade only to find the new equipment is not compatible with their existing infrastructure, software or even workflow and will require hefty investment in further upgrades, planning and consultation.
As a result, rushed changes can cause companies to come to a standstill, sometimes finding primary service applications are not supported on their shiny new box. Or worse, their entire IT system is now defunct. You then have to invest in other hardware, software licenses and increased support and consulting costs.
If you’re planning to install new technology, perform due diligence. Or ask an expert like Micro Pro. IT support mistakes like this can spiral you into a long spending cycle trying to rectify a problem that could have been avoided with the right advice.
5. Data Backup Failure
An alarming number of businesses don’t backup critical data on a daily basis. Shockingly, 10% of businesses don’t backup data at all! And 50% of those companies said they didn’t think backing up critical data was necessary.
A survey published in 2020 by Acronis revealed that only 15% of respondents confirmed they back up critical data multiple times a day. Only 26% backup data daily whilst 28% of companies backup monthly.
No wonder 42% of organisations lose data that results in downtime. Moreover, 54% of companies fail within two years after losing data they can’t recover within a week.
Some businesses never recover their data!
Data loss can easily be caused by systems failure and employee error. Implementing an effective backup strategy is your last line of defence.
Whilst there is no fail-proof solution, frequently backing up your data minimises any risk of loss. Cloud-backup security saves data every few seconds and also prevents data loss in the event of a theft, fire or flood.
6. Adopting The Wrong Technologies
Adopting a new technology on the grounds that it receives rave reviews does not necessarily mean it will work for your business. As we touched on above, your existing infrastructure may not even support it.
However, adopting new technologies can also cost your company money if there is a steep learning curve.
What’s popular is not always what’s best.
All too often, company leaders make IT decisions without having relevant information to hand. Unless you have knowledgable IT support teams to advise you of potential risks, adopting new software technologies could prove to be a costly error.
Whenever a company deploys new software there are a host of technical and conceptual tasks to overcome. Then you typically have to troubleshoot your way past any snagging errors that occur once the software is rolled out to your operational staff.
In other words, software should not only be functional and secure but also replicable and user-friendly.
When there is a learning curve, new software can be intimidating. Reports reveal that technology adoption is often slow if the software is complex to use and employees are not tech-savvy.
Commitment to training and giving your employees sufficient time to learn how to use specific tools may have long-term rewards but you should expect – and be prepared – to face short-term losses.
To assist with the deployment and integration of new technologies, IT support teams should be able to demonstrate a clear understanding of how to use the software.
Beyond training, it is also pertinent for IT professionals to understand whether new technologies are compatible with your business goals and recognise potential risks versus benefits.
7. Unwilling To Share Expert Knowledge
Adopting digital technologies present excellent opportunities for UK businesses in all sectors and locations from Surrey to Glasgow. Companies that act on the front foot can take advantage of automation and digitalisation to gain an advantage in the market.
However, new technologies typically require skills most employees in the UK do not have. Industry experts say one of the biggest challenges enterprises face moving forward is a lack of specialist expertise.
“By 2030, two-thirds of the UK workforce could be lacking in basic digital skills, while more than 10 million people could be underskilled in leadership, communication, and decision making.” ~ McKinsey
On the flip side, specialists that do have the right skills present another problem for industry leaders – experts with knowledge are unwilling to share it because it compromises their position of power and the reliance a company has on them.
It’s not uncommon for colleagues to withhold knowledge from one another. In the IT department, however, an unwillingness to share information can have severe ramifications.
For example, let’s say your IT manager controls the core network and delegates remedial tasks such as periphery switches and servers to the rest of the team. He does not provide any of his team members with information about how the network is configured.
Outsourcing your IT to an IT Support Partner who documents your environment and has multiple trained staff with knowledge of your entire infrastructure can remove this concern.
8. Unrealistic Expectations
Focusing on cost-cutting with IT technologies can have costly repercussions you haven’t budgeted for. A common mistake is expecting to purchase a single license for software your entire workforce can use.
In most instances, software products can only be activated once you have purchased the license and agreed to the terms and conditions. You will then be able to download the program and install it on to a computer.
However, most software licenses are individual; they cannot be shared on multiple computers. So if you want to share a license, your employees also have to share a computer. This is not practical.
Mistakes like this are common because licensing guidelines are often not made clear by the software vendor. As a consequence, it can severely affect your budget planning.
For example, let’s say the owner of a small business with 15 employees wants to purchase a license for the Microsoft 365 Business Premium. The cost of the software license is £15.10 a month per user.
A business owner with zero knowledge of software licensing is inclined to think Microsoft 365 is an absolute bargain for £181.20 a year. What he hasn’t realised is that he has to pay £181.20 for his entire team of 15 employees. All of sudden he realises installing Microsoft 365 will cost £2718 – £2536.80 over budget.
Good planning mitigates the risk of making a mistake. But when it comes to IT there are certain things you cannot prepare for in-house.
Companies with a monster budget that can afford to invest in the latest cloud and security technologies, employ IT support specialists and consistently train them, can run an efficient and effective IT department.
Every other company needs a cost-effective solution.
Outsourcing to a managed IT Support provider and having the backing of an expert team for a fraction of the cost of Internal IT Staff, can save your business a significant amount of money each year. By protecting your budget, you can invest confidently in other areas of your business.
Moreover, fixed monthly fees, strategic budget planning and regular Technology Business Reviews with an Industry Expert enables you to manage your budget easily and eliminates the risk of overspending or choosing the wrong Technology Direction for your business.
Partnering with MicroPro for managed IT support and to act as your strategic technology partner provides you with all the advantages of a large support team and can help you reap the benefits offered by the latest cloud technologies and more. You also have access to an outstanding team of knowledgable and experienced IT staff and Senior Consultants that learned from other clients costly mistakes years ago.