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The Six Biggest SMB Technology Mistakes

Filed under Hardware, Managed Services

Small and medium sized businesses (SMB) often don’t have the resources or desire to track the latest IT trends, security threats, or even common break/fix tips. And not all small business owners are adept at maintaining best technology practices.

As a result, SMBs frequently make certain technology mistakes and here is a look at some of these mistakes.

1. TRAINING

Okay you have hired all your staff but do they really know how to operate business technology?

You company has spent a lot of money on software programs like Office365 and Adobe Acrobat but does your staff really know these products well and know how to use all the features?  Time-saving, higher-level features on a new business software application may never be used by your employees if they are not trained in their use, causing your business to forgo the time and cost savings these advanced features provide.

Are you are using the right product to accomplish your company goals?

 

 

2. MAINTENANCE

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Both hardware and software need regular maintenance and adjustment like your vehicle.  Attending to small problems in a timely manner makes it less likely that those small problems will lead to full-spectrum disaster for your business. “Get it and forget it” may be great for flu shots, but it does not work with your business hardware or software applications. Business technology needs routine maintenance and adjustment, and this applies to both hardware and software. If you don’t have check-ups and tune-ups on your car, or if you don’t go to the doctor occasionally for a physical, you know the results could be disastrous.

All Software has a lifecycle before considering a new version:

    • Windows OS (Normally 7-10 years after release)

Note: If you are still running Windows XP that has been End of Life since April 8, 2014 meaning Microsoft will no longer provide security updates or technical support for Windows XP. Windows XP vulnerabilities may be exploited by malware and therefore leave all your client data unsafe.

    • Microsoft Office Apps (Normally 3-5 years after release)
    • COTS (Commercial Off the Shelf – like QuickBooks, Adobe Acrobat) software (Normally 5-7 years after release)

All software requires patching at some point:

    • Specifically, the Windows Operating system requires security patches at least once if not twice a month. Are all your users updating Windows OS patches monthly? How do you know?
    • What about Microsoft Emergency Patches sometimes referred to as OOB (out-of-band). Are your users patching all their workstations the minute these are released? If you are not patching your machines within hours of these Emergency Patches you could be leaving workstations open to attack

All IT hardware has a finite lifespan:

    • Good quality Desktops and Laptops (Dell, HP, Lenovo) (Normally replaced every 3-4 years)
    • Good quality Servers (HP, Dell, IBM) (Normally replaced every 4-5 years)
    • Good quality Network Switches (Cisco, HP ProCurve, Dell). (Normally replaced every 10-15 years)
    • Good quality NAS Appliances (Synology, Datto, Western Digital).  (Normally replaced every 3-4 years)

 

3. BACKUPS

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Having faulty or non-existent backup procedures.  Statistics reveal there is a 50% chance an organization will cease operations immediately when critical data is lost. Worse, an organization’s odds of failure rocket to 90% within two years when critical data is lost. Data losses cost an average of 19 days’ productivity. Recovering data from damaged disks, meanwhile, is extremely expensive.

Below are some red flags we have heard from Small to Medium Sized Businesses when asking about their IT Backups:

  1. Our IT Consultant/IT Service Provider says trust me we are backing up the all company’s important data every night but they don’t provide backup logs or proof the backup took place.
  2. There is no written procedure explaining exactly what data or systems are backed up,  when are they backed up, where are they backed up (Tape/Drive Media or Cloud) and how long are backups kept.
  3. There are no Restore Tests done on at least a quarterly basis to prove the backup media is working properly and that data can be recovered if needed.

 

4. SECURITY

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Skimping on security is as recipe for getting hacked. Organizations don’t need to have a high profile to become a target. Hackers have created countless automated programs that scour the Internet 24/7, seeking poorly secured systems, servers, PCs, and networks to infect and exploit.

Below are just a few ways Small to Medium Sized Businesses skimp on IT security:

  • Trusting your ISP’s router or purchasing a low end Linksys or D-Link router from retail local or big box stores is almost as bad as leaving your keys in your car, with the doors open while its running in a high crime neighborhood.
  • One of our company laptops got stolen and the local hard drive wasn’t encrypted so all the data can be compromised and sold on the black market.
  • All our company users have local workstation admin access to make their lives easier but someone just installed a virus that wiped out all our network drive data
  • Avast AntiVirus and AVG AntiVirus are free so why would I want to pay for an enterprise level antivirus software program like Kaspersky AntiVirus.
  • We let our company users use whatever passwords they want and for as long as they want to log into their workstations.
    • Any passwords not following complex requirements can now be cracked within seconds using password cracking tools downloadable off the web.  Complex passwords should be at least 8 characters, should have at least one upper and lower case letter, should also have a number and an alpha numeric like an underscore ( _ ), dash (-) or apostrophe (!).  It is also recommended to have a Domain Controller (Server) which can enforce password rules to all your staff and require them to change them at regular intervals.

 

5. QUALIFIED SUPPORT

Using a co-worker or friend to support your network instead of a qualified company.  Not turning to a genuine IT professional when necessary is another mistake some small business owners make. Optimizing your major technology purchases and maintaining your hardware are tasks that you would be wise to leave to a qualified, accredited professional. Although a friend, relative or co-worker might be able to load a new application, more complicated tasks require greater experience and skill.  To set up a newly purchased system the right way, getting rid of viruses and spyware, or overcoming a complex technological challenge call for an experienced professional.

Maybe your co-worker or friend knows a little about computers but do you want them to assume the liability of causing damage to your systems or worse losing your company data?

With a trusted IT Managed Service Provider like Quercus Solutions Inc. you get the following qualified IT positions at your disposal:

  • IT Site Engineers
  • Service Manager
  • Project Manager
  • Business Analysts
  • IT Developers

Quercus Solutions also has a NOC (Network Operations Centre) with real-time dashboards so we can monitor all our client’s systems 24/7 and our monitoring system will generate service tickets so our technicians are immediately notified of any issues.

 

6. DOCUMENTATION

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The only person that knew how your company network works quit and now no one knows what to do?

There are many companies that have one IT person managing their networks but is this really the best course of action?

  • What happens if this person gets sick? Who is there to fix your IT issues?
  • What happens if this person goes on holidays? Who is there to fix your IT issues?
  • What happens if this person quits? Who is there to fix your IT issues?
  • What happens if this person wins the lottery and just doesn’t show up for work the next day? Who is there to fix your IT issues?

Do you have all this IT Documentation below and is it up to date?

  • Network Diagrams
  • All critical system passwords and are they securely stored?
  • Employee Onboarding Procedures and Termination Procedures
  • How to set up a new desktop or laptop (what is the default software)
  • How to set up a company Smartphone
  • Backup Procedures
  • Backup Log Book
  • Data Retention Policy
  • DRP (Disaster Recovery Plan)
  • Etc.

 

Conclusion

For all the small business owners and operations managers hopefully this blog has been helpful to you.

If you are concerned about the state of any of these topics above by all means let us know at hello@quercussolutions.com and we will be happy to discuss your IT needs. Keep in mind Quercus Solutions has seasoned IT Infrastructure professionals with years of experience with IT Infrastructure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2017 by Quercus Solutions
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