Most business professionals have become proficient in how to use technology to manage their personal life. Unfortunately, those skills don’t always translate over to running a business and managing business technology. In fact, having some technical knowledge can lead to over-confidence, leaving your business open to risks and missing out on opportunities.
IT security is critical for businesses. One data breach or one data failure can cause a business to go bankrupt. We state this fact not to scare you, but rather to inspire you to take IT security and IT management seriously.
Here are the most common hidden IT problems we see when we do a Technology Assessment.
The dirty dozen hidden IT problems
1. Not using anti-virus software
Without anti-virus software actively running on all computers at all times, you’re left vulnerable to malware, spyware, and ransomware. These cybersecurity threats are difficult and expensive to fix. Prevention is far better than the cure. Windows 10 comes with a built-in anti-virus software, but there are also other good commercial business anti-virus programs that enable you to centrally manage installation and reporting. Don’t leave it to your users to decide on anti-virus software. Some malware programs are disguised as anti-virus software.
2. No firewall
A firewall prevents unauthorized outsiders from accessing your secure computer network. A firewall can be hardware, software or both. We have an article dedicated the differences in business firewalls. Firewall solutions are best setup by an IT professional. Misconfigured firewalls leave the door wide open to cybersecurity threats, while giving you a false sense of security.
3. Using Gmail (or AOL or Hotmail or Comcast, etc.)
Google is a great program for your personal email and documents. However, using gmail or other personal email addresses for business is a poor decision. First off, your business doesn’t look as professional as one who is using their domain (ABCcompany@hotmail.com vs. ryan@ABCcompany.com). But branding aside, using non-business email addresses can create very real IT security threats. You can’t enforce security standards, like multi-factor authentication. If you lose an employee, you likely lose access to their email. Moving to G-Suite or Microsoft 365 give you centralized IT administration capabilities. If an employee leaves, you can access their mailbox and redirect email to another employee.
4. No backup
The main reason to back up your data is to save important files in case of a disaster, but you should have backups no matter what. No one plans for a disaster. Without a backup in place, an employee could accidentally overwrite important files. Without a backup, those are especially difficult to recover. Ideally, you even have multiple backups – to the cloud, offsite, and local.
5. Backup not tested
How many times have we talked to a new client who swears they have their systems backed up, but in actuality, they have no idea how to restore the backup. They’ve never tested it. They don’t have the right access. They’re missing passwords. This creates a world of hurt. Make sure to test your backup and restoration processes and KNOW that they work correctly. When something crashes, you’ll be glad to know you have a seamless backup plan.
6. No centralized file storage
Don’t let employees retain critical business information on their personal laptops and computers. The Covid crisis has shown us how important it is to have centrally-managed documents stored in the cloud. You can create directories for company divisions or organize by projects names. Having an effective file management system is important to work efficiently. It will save you time and frustration to have all files in one space, labeled and placed into correct folders. You’ll never have to dig through all of your computer for one certain file again.
7. Critical systems out of date
Outdated systems are slower, lack features and may be incompatible with areas of technology you have modernized. Even if you don’t need all the features of the latest version, you put your business at risk by using software that is no longer supported.
8. Using white boards / sticky notes
Visually planning on a dry erase board or using sticky notes is great for the short term – these visual aids are helpful reminders, but should never be your only way of working. Electronic to-do lists and calendars are both secure and portable. Plus, you can easily share your plans with other employees, even those who are in a different physical location. Keep your information safe and in one common place, with the option for collaboration with your team!
9. Not automating tasks
Look at your desk. Is it buried in paper? If so, you’re probably still doing far too many things in a manual, inefficient way. Do you have to take information from one system and type it into another system or call someone to have them take action? Building workflows and automating tasks can save you time and reduce errors.
10. Logging into 28 different apps
With the abundance of SaaS Small business apps on the market today, you can fall into the trap of having your data scattered in too many places. Let’s say you use QuickBooks, MailChimp and a CRM system, when a customer updates their email address, do you have to manually update it across the board? Are you able to run reports to get insights, like which campaigns your best customers came from? At some point, you may want to move to a bigger solution that has more capabilities or use integrations to link system data together.
11. Never asking if there is a better way to do something
You may have your business running smoothly, but inefficiently. With technology constantly advancing, your business processes and systems can become out-of-date and because “you’ve always done it this way” it doesn’t cross your mind that there might be a better way. One of the values of having an outside IT consulting team is that they see how many businesses are run and can provide valuable advice about ways to improve.
12. Not running the right reports
You may run financial reports, but have you ever looked for what information is missing? Like how many customers ordered last year but didn’t order this year? Building dashboards and reports that provide actionable insight is a sign of business maturity and sets you up for strong growth.
Would you benefit from an on-site technology assessment?
You can find out for yourself by taking an IT quiz. Or reach out for a low-cost technology assessment. Eclipse Consulting has a team of IT professionals who can help you achieve your business goals by providing a secure and efficient IT environment.
What happens if you don’t backup your PC data?
By not backing up your data, you could lose your files forever. If your computer crashes and you don’t have a backup in place, there are no promises on what you can get back.
Why should I get anti-virus software?
Anti-virus software is a program used to prevent, detect, and remove viruses and malware on your computer.
Why should I have a firewall for my business?
A firewall is going to protect your business from malicious code. There are some strong firewalls that will inspect your network traffic. They will block viruses, spam, and other unwanted Internet traffic.
Can I use Gmail for my business?
Business information should be protected. If your company is using Gmail, you have no control over the content if a password is changed or the employee leaves your company.