IT Support, business IT, outsourcing IT

How do you know the true health of your technology infrastructure?

Are you prepared for the year ahead? A lot is changing in the IT world. Here are a few ways to stay accountable in 2019.

Understand What Technologies Your Company Uses and Why

Getting involved in the technology your company depends on is an important step senior leaders can take to improve accountability. Asking IT to include you on security or backup alerts is a good first step; but, if you don’t take the time to understand the technology your teams are using, those reports won’t mean much.

Are you worried about a computer or server going down? Are you concerned about how your customer data is being handled? Are you the contact in the company who gets the call when there is an issue with technology? There is a better way to approach IT: proactive vs. reactive.

You should understand why your company spends time and money on the different areas of technology so that you can draw connections between your technicians’ efforts and the various needs of your staff. Understanding how resources are invested into things like computers, email, firewalls, anti-phishing training, and your company software, will help you to identify the areas that are vulnerable and prioritize company investment into future technology improvements.

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Request Regular IT Reports—And Read Them

If your IT person is using the right tools and looking after your infrastructure, they should be able to give you weekly, monthly, and quarterly reports on different areas of technology like, server loads, backups and antivirus updates.

Ask them to set you up with some oversight so you can help keep things in check. For example, if you notice backups have been missed for two days in a row, and your IT person is too distracted by other projects to respond, you’re aware that someone needs to take action. Another example is not accounting for trends that show the server losing free disk space over the past few months. Do you understand the importance of the server to the company? Can you explain the change in free disk space and how should you react? Having the answers to questions such as these will help you avoid issues.

Keep Documentation Up-to-Date and Accessible

Documentation holds us accountable and helps us understand technology. It always a good idea to keep an updated inventory of users, subscriptions, and licenses, and store it in a safe place, whether in a virtual “notebook” or a physical notebook. The process of updating documentation can be an educational experience as it will challenge your company to review the current technologies used and how they affect everyone involved.

An all-too-common scenario we hear about is when back-ups stop occurring, and people are not aware of it. In these situations, no one knows the email address used in the initial set-up, or no one configured email alerts. People just assume that it’s working and get a nasty surprise when they need to recover a backup.

Here is another one from the ‘Top 10 list of things that often go wrong with mismanaged IT’: Your IT person buys an antivirus subscription or renews a backup service with your company’s credit card when they are on-site working on a fix in January, and then the credit card expires in June. No one is alerted. The business could go months without updated security or a backup, all because of administrative oversight.

What about the day you come into work to find your server offline? It turns out that it was running out of free disk space and you discovered it too late. The staff has been adding more to the company drive and back-ups have been growing, and no one’s been maintaining them. The computer ran out of space and crashed trying to apply routine Windows updates.

Important documentation your team should maintain to avoid a situation like this includes:

  1. What type of server you have
  2. The amount of power the server has
  3. All current licensing
  4. Age/year of the system hardware
  5. What the status of the warranty is
  6. Details that the security definitions are up-to-date
  7. State of backups and if they have been recently checked
  8. Drive space and performance statistics with a review log

This kind of information is found on the monthly and quarterly reports provided by managed service providers (MSPs). The benefit of using an MSP is the alerting pieces. You are notified immediately if something is missed or goes wrong.

Every business is different, so frequency will vary. However, there should always be some manner of proactive, recurring documentation check-in. When people are making changes that involve technology with licensing or subscriptions from an administrative or billing perspective, that documentation needs to be updated. The tech side needs to do their part as well, which is to make sure that the platform is supported and that services are running.

Keeping yourself informed on what technologies your company is using and why, ensuring documentation is regularly maintained, and checking that systems are functioning properly will help make sure that your company is shifting towards a proactive approach with technology. Why wait for a surprise IT problem that will inevitably cause stress either internally with your staff or externally with your customers? Use your new proactive approach to leverage technology in your favor. We guarantee that this strategy will lead your business to success.
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