How to know if your IT infrastructure is being maintained properly
Maintaining and supporting the IT of a business is becoming increasingly complex. New threats to IT emerge every day. More devices, means more hardware which ages and can pose problems. Upgrades and patches to hardware are constantly being issued and require management. In an ideal world an IT manager or an IT team proactively, effectively and competently handle all these challenges before they create a much bigger problem for everyone.
Most business owners and senior managers are focused on business strategy and business goals. They have neither the understanding or skills to know if their IT is being handled well, and that the business is not at risk of a major IT outage.
How do you know if things are being maintained properly?
You know your technological infrastructure is well-maintained when you have preventive, diagnostic, updating, replacement, and repair procedures in place.
* Preventive – This refers to the schedule of planned maintenance actions aimed at the prevention of breakdowns and failures in the technologies you use.
* Diagnostic – This ensures accurate and effective maintenance of your IT by uncovering the weaknesses in your existing tech infrastructure so you can prevent a major system failure before it occurs.
* Updating – This includes fixing bugs that may be present on the system or providing security updates that can be critical to keep individual systems or networks protected. As such, any update must be pre-planned as it can make some systems unavailable to the end users for a certain period of time.
* Replacement – Due to rapid changes in technology, there should be constant upgrades and replacement of your hardware (e.g. desktops, laptops, printers, servers, network infrastructure, etc.). On average, equipment replacement should be every three to five years. Some may last longer, regardless, someone should be monitoring the life cycle of all your important hardware. Take note: If the device/hardware component can no longer be serviced or requires maintenance more than once every six months, it’s probably time to upgrade. And, ideally, when upgrading you should look for a replacement that’s ready to adapt to the technology when it evolves.
* Repair procedures – In the event that hardware fails, do you have an established system/procedure or a go-to person who will take care of the problem? If there’s a procedure, is it clear to everyone especially the end users? Do you have spare parts for quick repairs? Or, a replacement in the event that your IT cannot repair the problem in a reasonable or feasible period of time?
The questions you should ask your IT manager
Although the task of ensuring all your mission-critical machines are well-oiled falls on the shoulder of your IT manager, as the business owner, it wouldn’t hurt to be proactive and ask how your technology is being managed. From general questions such as:
* Is the equipment and infrastructure reliable?
* Are appropriate preventive maintenance procedures in place?
* Are update and replacement procedures in place?
* Are diagnostic and repair resources available?
* Is technical support staffed adequately?
To specific questions like:
* Which piece of hardware should we update next?
* When was the last time our firewall firmware was updated?
* Are we proactively monitoring our network for attacks?
* How can we improve our network security?
* How many security updates are missing on our servers and PCs?
* Do we have a disaster recovery and backup plan?
* What would our recovery time be in the event of total data loss?
* How do we stay abreast with the current technology issues and trends?
* What is the utilisation of our IT staff?
* Do we have BYOD policies in place?
* Can we move anything to the cloud?
* How are we involving everyone in securing our network and the maintenance of our IT assets?
Maintaining your own IT requires a lot of work. Since it plays a crucial part in running your business, you need to hire an effective IT manager to handle critical decisions involving IT. A simple oversight such as a lapsed hardware warranty can lead to a disastrous problem for your business.
Why outsourcing might be the right answer
Outsourcing the maintenance of your IT infrastructure to a 3rd-party specialist is an option for your business. It can be a more transparent, professional and efficient way of managing your IT assets, and having improved IT management and reporting processes. Outsourcing can also reduce your operating costs by eliminating the expenses associated with hiring a full-time employee.
Most professional IT providers are equipped with an extensive knowledge of industry best practices. Instead of being dependent on one person, you gain access to the collective experience of a team of IT experts.
It also improves the company focus; allowing you to do what you do best and delegating the job of maintaining your IT to experts.
The best way to know if your IT Infrastructure is being maintained well is to conduct an IT Audit.
If you would like to discuss how you can be sure your IT is being managed and maintained well, contact us for a free expert IT consultation.