5 Principles to Eliminate IT Risk
Can you evaluate risk with your organization’s information technology? Unfortunately, many businesses that we speak with on a regular basis do not realize they are one unexpected circumstance away from a business disaster.
The story goes something like this: the keys to the IT kingdom are placed in the hands of one IT employee or IT consultant. They have full access to all the email, data, software, configurations, and credentials that run your business, and little to no contingency plan is put in place. Then something unexpected happens: they get sick, incur financial hardship, their service quality suffers, they place your data and systems in an IT “vault” where you have limited access, or you suffer a cybersecurity breach. Disaster strikes and now it is too late.
By now we are all aware that we’re living and running our businesses in uncertain times, but IT does not need to be a single point of failure situation. Here are 5 practical principles you can implement to ensure you spread out your IT eggs in more than one basket.
1. Have an IT Overflow Button
If your strategy for handling an increased IT workload is to make your IT manager work overtime and take less vacation, you’re in a tough spot. If put in that position, your IT manager will either quit or be forced to leave important work unfinished.
Every IT manager needs an overflow button and every company should consider an outside IT partner. This is especially important for small businesses, since their IT department normally consists of just one or two people, and it’s impossible for them to possess all the technical skill sets your business needs. For IT professionals: think about your workload today and ask yourself if you would be offended if an outside company took over the boring work of making sure backups are running properly or applying security patches outside of regular business hours. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that those tasks are automated and handled consistently?
Now is the time to address this major business risk and find an overflow button service. Setting up a backstop for your IT will ensure that your IT eggs are not all in one basket.
2. Improve Your IT Toolbox
If your IT support is not simple and automated, there is something wrong. Even if your staff are working from home, IT support should be able to immediately remote into their computer, view their screen, and fix the problem. If software needs to be installed or removed from company workstations, IT should not be required to sit down with every user to complete that task. Most of the time, you can create a script and push it out to all endpoints. Professional IT tools like IT support ticketing platforms, network monitoring tools, and IT documentation software all streamline and simplify IT so that you are not dependent on one individual to get things done. It’s much easier to navigate through complex times when your IT foundation is stable and your IT toolbox empowers IT professionals to maximize their effectiveness. What does your foundation and toolbox look like? If it’s not great, reach out to an IT partner for help.
3. Audit Your IT
You audit your books. You have your finances and taxes reviewed by a CPA or accounting firm. Your operations might go through an annual audit to meet an ISO certification standard. Businesses are used to auditing critical systems, but most fail to do so for their IT.
In 2020, IT can make or break your business just as easily as accounting or operations. The risk is there and the trends are shifting: data privacy and security regulations have increased; technology landscape is changing quickly and becoming more complex; cybersecurity threats are without a doubt a top risk for any business. Internal IT teams need guidance from outside professionals just like accounting departments. If your business has not completed an IT or cybersecurity audit recently, this needs to move up your priority list. Reach out to an IT consulting firm that offers this service and get the details.
4. Don’t Let Private Cloud Providers Trap Your Business
The cloud provider you choose can easily trap your business and steal your potential. Operating systems, databases, code and technology changes happen so quickly that a significant amount of capital is required to keep custom built IT systems secured and up to date with modern standards. Make sure your cloud providers are backed by well-established companies.
Public clouds like Microsoft Azure and AWS have an infinite amount of resources that will provide stability to your organization, and there are well-established exit strategies if their systems don’t perform to your expectations. Additionally, it’s easy to find IT providers to help manage your Microsoft Azure cloud infrastructure, but if you are working with a private cloud, you are stuck with one option and they know it. Getting out of private cloud providers tends to be costly and complicated, so avoid them if possible. If you’re already in a private cloud, double check your contract for exit terms.
5. Leverage the Public Cloud
Cloud-focused companies were able to quickly and easily adjust to work-from-home requirements when the pandemic hit. Most companies operating out of an all-cloud infrastructure probably didn’t even notice much of a change while companies with a more traditional IT stack hit the panic button. Solutions like Microsoft 365, Azure AD, Microsoft Teams, and Virtual Desktops are a good fit for a vast majority of businesses out there. Cloud is mobile by design and can easily scale up and down as businesses grow and shrink. Right now is a great time to evaluate your cloud strategy. Have an honest conversation about what didn’t work during this recent shift to work-from-home and see how to improve your position for next time. If all your IT resources are still on-premises at your office, all your IT eggs are in one basket.
Whether you’re an IT Director, IT Manager, CFO or CEO at a small business, these principles can help focus your attention on the risks that may exist within your information technology. Stay healthy, be smart, and strengthen your IT resources today. Who knows how long this crisis is going to last!
TechMD is an award-winning Managed IT Services Provider that is dedicated to making co-managed IT the most effective partnership for companies with under 500 employees. TechMD is an extension of internal IT departments. Our solution is effective, well-defined, and affordable. It offers both IT staff and business leaders the peace of mind that you have a partner that can help you weather storms like the current coronavirus pandemic.