There’s no question about it, IT systems form the operational backbone of many organisations – which means it can get extremely costly when things go wrong. Many smaller businesses simply aren’t equipped for what happens when IT systems go down. While most businesses do an excellent job of delivering their own product or service, they just don’t have the knowledge in-house that allows for picking up the pieces when there’s an infrastructure issue.
Fortunately – IT systems tend to run into problems in familiar areas and in recognisable ways, so, if you’ve got an issue, the chances are you’re not going to be the first person or business who’s suffered. We’ll take you through some of the most frequently occurring business IT problems – and give you a few tips on how to get your systems back on track.
Downtime is a serious problem in the world of business.
The term describes any period during which your IT systems aren’t functioning as they should be. That might be your overall systems – or it could just be a single mission-critical system.
Downtime costs serious money. While small businesses might not see a huge impact, the average cost of downtime is bumped up significantly by big business and the losses they face when critical applications can’t be accessed – with the global average figure being around a $100,000 loss for every hour of downtime.
If you want to avoid losing access to your systems, you need to ensure that the people who maintain your systems guarantee an ‘uptime’ figure that’s as close to 100% as possible. Of course, 100% is unlikely, but 99.9% or more should keep you on track to maximise your business productivity.
Your IT system doesn’t have to be up and running to experience problems, in fact, one of the most common IT issues occurs before you’ve powered up a single device – that’s a delay to your internet circuit connection.
The ‘circuit’ is the hardware that’s needed to connect your location to the nearest exchange. In some instances, this is simple – in others, this requires building work and permission from local land owners and councils. The process can be extremely time-consuming (even before work has begun) and normally takes a period of weeks – sometimes months.
When you’re dealing with such large timescales, the scope for things going wrong and being delayed is increased – so it’s not uncommon for circuit installation delays to prevent your business operating well beyond anticipated timescales.
There’s no quick solution, but if you follow the right advice on minimising circuit delays, you’ll put yourself in a good position to open your doors when planned.
No Failsafe Plans:
There’s a huge host of reason you could find yourself without systems or an internet connection – and the only way you can be certain that you’ll be able to cope with each is to plan failsafe action should one of the most common occur.
94% of small business IT and internet issues are down to one of the following:
- Server or infrastructure failure
- Building or area power loss
- Natural disaster (flood, earthquake, fire, etc)
- Loss of Software as a Service access
- Virus/malware infection
Statistically, your business will face one of these issues every 12 months. Build specialist plans around each, and you can be sure that your business stays on track, even if significant problems strike.
IT Support Costs:
Small business IT problems don’t just come in the form of malware and infrastructure failure – there are instances where simply having the right support just isn’t feasible – leaving you vulnerable.
A dedicated in-house IT team can be very costly, and, if you need the 24/7 support that’s going to keep your systems up and running at all times, you’re going to be looking at employing 3-4 people as a minimum.
Without adequate support, you’re going to struggle with a number of important IT areas, including:
- Staff training
- Systems and software support
- Support desk service
- Disaster recovery
…and many more. 74% of small businesses now employ an external Managed Network Provider (MSP) rather than taking on a huge cost and responsibly in house. If your budget simply won’t stretch to provide the kind of IT support you’re going to need to keep moving forward, exploring MSP options could be a smart business option for you too.
Data Protection Vulnerability:
Data protection requirements have changed enormously over the last 20 – and recent worldwide changes to data protection law mean your business could face legal action and huge financial punishments if you’re not abiding by the most stringent standards.
There are very few businesses that have the kind of protection and training in place to make them completely invulnerable to data loss – so, in the absence of being certain, the best thing you can do is to carefully audit your systems, in an effort to pre-empt any vulnerabilities.
The UK government’s ‘Cyber Essentials’ guidance will put you ahead of most other companies when it comes to protecting your data, but, if you feel like you could be in breach of data protection law, consulting with a specialist digital security organisation could be a sensible next step.
No being able to scale your IT equipment quickly might not sound like a huge problem – but in reality, it could be the thing that stops you ever being able to grow your business in a way that lets you keep up with the requirements of your customers or the contracts you’re chasing.
When your IT can’t keep up with the scaling you require, opting to buy your software and infrastructure ‘as a Service’ can make your business more agile.
More and more large tech companies realise that small business buying power just can’t account for large capital expenditure outlays – so rather that offering up their services in exchange for large one-off payments, they have adapted to offer software and infrastructure on a subscription basis.
The cloud is making business IT less costly by the day, so if having and maintaining an IT network on your premises will limit your business in anyway, search for your next IT upgrades as a ‘service’ – and you’ll quickly find yourself able to compete with businesses who’ve got considerably more in the IT equipment pot.