Is IT hiding issues that could cripple your business?

“In the IT guy we trust.”

This ends up being the motto for a lot of small and medium-sized businesses. Usually it is not by choice but out of necessity. Chances are you have plenty of things on your agenda. Checking up on IT is near the bottom, alongside sleep and going on holiday. This may not be an issue should you be lucky enough to have a reliable IT guy whom you trust. If you are not sure, they may not be spending the time required to ensure all problems are fully resolved.  Your business could be crippled if issues are IT swept under the rug.

Why would any IT guy ignore or neglect issues that could harm your company?

If you are going with a traditional break/fix IT person, they simply have no reason to fix issues, other than the one they have been asked to repair. Since you only hire them when something is broken, it makes more sense for them to wait for it to break. They can then return and fix that problem at a later date, for more money.

In-house IT departments that are overworked or understaffed are just as likely to be hiding issues from you. As long as everything stays operational, they assume you won’t notice what may be lurking under the surface. Of course while they are busy providing duct tape fixes to keep you happy, big cracks are forming that could seriously affect your company.

While you might be concerned about this, you probably have no idea what to look for. After all, that is why you hired someone to fix your IT in the first place. Let’s take a look at a few issues that can be hidden by your IT guy and how you can spot them.

Security Patches

The issue

Installing security patches is one of the best ways to protect your business. However, this is also one of the first things IT guys will skip over. In many ways, it is the “doing the dishes” of the IT world. It’s not that patch installation and management is a difficult thing to do for an experienced IT guy.  However, it is repetitive and easy to defer to a later time when other more pressing things need attention.

Much like dirty dishes, patches can pile up if not installed right away, turning a simple task into a time-consuming one. If those dishes are left to sit, mould will start to form on the plates and bugs will likely find their way into your home. In the IT world, when security patches pile up, your networks and systems invite mould and bugs, in the form of malware. Before long your IT ends up slowing down considerably or even becomes  inoperable, costing you money in downtime and repairs.

How to spot it

This is where things get tricky. Unless you are keen to root around DOS commands or computer scripts, it can be difficult to see if a security patch has been installed for yourself. If you have an in-house IT department, it would be wise to have them compile patch management reports on a regular basis, so they can be held accountable. As for the break/fix IT guy, well if you ask him really nicely he just might do it for you but don’t expect him to do it on his own.

Strategic planning

The issue

When it comes to technology, it makes more sense to be prepared and have a plan than to wait for something to happen then react to it. This helps improve your company’s agility and allows it to implement new technology and scale current solutions upwards or downwards as needed. By simply waiting for things to break or upgrading your IT at random intervals, you risk having to deal with large amounts of downtime in order for hardware and software to be replaced. You also face the threat of competitors passing you by as they are able to leverage new technology to enjoy greater success.

Your IT guy should ne able to look at your servers, do some research and inform you when they could start suffering from performance degradation and need replacement. Yet, they will likely not bother to do this and simply wait for them to stop working. Since your downtime equals dollars, they don’t have any incentive to inform you when things need to be replaced.

How to spot it

Most technology, both hardware and software, have a fairly well-defined shelf life. Critical production servers for instance usually last about five years or so before you’ll need to replace them. Of course, you don’t need to replace them altogether. In many cases these servers are still able to function in other, non-critical roles. It’s important to remember that businesses should be dictating their company’s technology replacement or upgrade schedule, not the other way around.

In reality, working with a Managed Services Provider (MSP) that provides consulting, is the ideal way to figure out what IT your business needs. Traditional IT guy’s or even an in-house IT department can be too focused on handling day-to-day tasks to think of the big picture.  An IT consultant can help you plan out everything and ensure the transition from old technology to new is seamless and doesn’t cause any downtime.

Mobile Device Management (MDM)

The issue

If your employees are using their mobile phones and tablets to access data, then the devices need to be managed. Staff can lose their devices, and when they are in the wrong hands, your business’s sensitive information can be accessible. Moreover, threats to your data can be present even if employees hold on to their phones. Rogue apps disguised innocently enough as free games or helpful Apps can actually be stealing information.

A lot of in-house IT departments haven’t quite realised just how important mobile device management is. Or, they do know and simply can’t or won’t put in the required effort to make it happen. It can be a lot of work to get policies in place. Hiding this means one less thing to worry about, even if it puts their business at risk down the line.

How to spot it

It is pretty easy to see if MDM exists at your company and if your IT team already has it in place. They should be able to share with you the dashboard they use to monitor everything and also give you access. As for the break/fix IT guy, they are not hiding it from you.  They won’t do it unless you pay them to install an MDM system. Once that is done you are on your own to manage and monitor everything.

In most cases, having an IT guy or a small in-house team is no longer enough. There are simply too many issues to worry about on a daily basis for them to get to everything. This means they are likely to hide something from you. And, while they may intend to do it at some other time, can your company afford to wait?

If there is one thing history has shown, addressing IT issues in the present ensures they don’t harm your business in the future. At Empower IT Solutions, we believe in a fully transparent IT process that keeps you informed and addresses problems before they cripple your company. Contact us today for more information on how we can make sure you are never in the dark when it comes to your IT.