While technology can streamline business processes, it can also create major problems. Technology and working-life website, Lifehacker, has come up with what it says are 10 of the most common mistakes, in no particular order, that small businesses make in IT. Thankfully, it also suggests how to avoid them!
- Not investing in training
Sufficient training in the tools staff are using is crucial, but often overlooked in favour of a “work it out as you go” approach. “Staff that are educated in the ins and outs of the software they use on a daily basis are more confident, productive and overall a lot happier in their roles,” Lifehacker says. Luckily, many software programs offer short online courses.
- Using too many communication tools
Communication tools — Lifehacker mentions email, Trello, Slack, Hipchat, Google Hangouts, Skype, Smartsheet, Yammer, twoodoo, Glip — are all useful, but keeping track of multiple messages on multiple platforms can be a nightmare. Lifehacker says it is better to choose a couple of methods you think will work for your business, and stick to them.
- No social media strategy
“If you take building your online prescence seriously, you need to have a strategy.” Using built in analytics to identify peak times to post will give you more reach and engagement with your followers, and attract new ones Lifehacker says. Social media management tools will make your life easier too. At Synectic we’re loving CoSchedule and Hootsuite, but a quick search will uncover plenty of tools.
- Not taking security seriously
Even something as simple as network sharing can comprise your business security, with Lifehacker advising businesses check who has permission to view files and folders. “Make sure you’re installing the latest security patches as they become available — you should receive a notification from your anti-virus software; ensure that it’s legit, and make sure you’re only running one program.”
- Not utilising two-step authentication
Two-step authentication is not just for bank accounts; numerous online services require a code sent to your mobile or email or a security token as well as your regular password. “This means that even if someone does discover your unique, clever, seemingly random and often changed password (you’ve made sure you’re doing all that, right?) they still won’t be able to log in.” Lifehacker says if two-step authentication is an option, do it.
- Forgetting to back up data
Backing up is so easy to put off until something terrible happens — and you lose all your data. “Set a reminder in your calender, on your phone, wherever you need to. Commit to making backups part of your regular routine and you’ll never have that sinking feeling of despair in the pit of your stomach again.”
- Email chaos
Lifehacker says there are a few schools of thought when it comes to organising your emails, with some preferring to file and categorise, while others insist on the inbox-only route. “What definitely doesn’t work, however, is having thousands of unread messages. Find the time to cull 50 per day. Unsubscribe from mailing lists, change notification settings on social media and chip away at that pile until you can breathe a sigh of relief.” Many of our staff at Synectic are finding Microsoft’s Office 365 for business “Clutter” tool helpful for reducing the daily distraction of less important emails.
- No actual tech support
While it may be tempting to simply get the most tech-savvy member of your team to look after any problems as they arise, a proficiency in Call of Duty is no guarantee of actually knowing what is best for your business, or being available for around-the-clock support. “It is simple and surprisingly affordable to outsource proper IT support, and its importance cannot be understated,” Lifehacker says.
- Slow internet
Lifehacker offers a link to this online tool to check your speed online and compare options. “Don’t put up with snail pace internet if you don’t have to! It’s worth spending a little extra to get the fastest internet possible in your area — you’ll see an improvement in everything from staff morale to an increase in productivity.”
- Not upgrading regularly enough
Following on from the above theme of not being overly tight with the purse strings, while not advocating that business owners should get into debt Lifehacker advises that struggling with old hardware is something you should stop doing now. “Invest in new equipment on a regular basis.” If your equipment needs an upgrade feel free to talk to us to see if you can take advantage of any tax breaks.