Tech mistakes small businesses make (and how we can help)

In today’s small businesses — in which just-in-time manufacturing models, heightened customer expectations, and 24×7 accessibility demands burden both manufacturers and service providers — very little time remains for much else. Small businesses often don’t have the resources or inclination to keep on top of the new technology practices which can lead to some dreaded tech mistakes.

If you suspect your small businesses might be making some tech mistakes. Here’s a look at some of the most common, along with specific steps we can take to assist small businesses in correcting these common issues.

1: Insufficient technical support

Many organisations go without technical support, relying instead upon an employee whose love of Minecraft makes them the local office “computer geek.” Other organisations may depend upon a staffer’s friend or relative (who’s “interested in computers”) to provide technology advice or assistance when critical systems fail or slow unacceptably.

Some turn to their hardware manufacturer’s telephone support line for help, only to be disappointed when the solution to many problems proves to be performing a reinstallation (thereby resulting in the loss of all the business owner’s data). Some rely upon a big box electronic store’s service arm, never receiving the same (novice, often undereducated, and inexperienced) technician twice. And still others locate a student or individual who provides computer support “on the side.”. These support methods are not cost-efficient. Nor are they effective and they can lead to tech mistakes.

Small businesses need knowledgeable, trusted technology partners who are proficient with current technologies and willing to help learn their industry’s operations requirements. Once a qualified technology expert is familiar with a client’s needs, appropriate services and solutions can be recommended and deployed. The result is almost always more cost-effective, more efficient, more profitable operations for the client.

All of our technicians are highly skilled with the latest operating systems and server platforms. We regularly invest time and resources to research what’s happening within the tech arena and look at ways in which we can leverage any new technologies to improve our clients bottom lines.

2: Hardware/software issues

Smart organizations set PC service lives at three or four years. There’s a reason.

When you look at costs — particularly around a four- to six-year lifecycle — it may seem like you are saving money, But really it’s costing you. That’s because support expenses increase. Retaining PCs longer than three or four years often results in repair and support costs that meet or exceed the price of new systems.

This is the second common tech mistake businesses make: They fail to standardise hardware components and software applications, where possible. The result is a mishmash of components that complicate troubleshooting, repair, and deployment and require companies to support a variety of programs with different license terms and renewal dates. Incompatibilities often result.

Worse, older and obsolete hardware is less efficient, increases downtime likelihood, feeds staff and customer frustration, endangers sales, and threatens other lost opportunities.

Small businesses can overcome common hardware and software issues by:

  • Retiring equipment at proper lifecycles, typically three to four years.
  • Standardising hardware.
  • Standardising software applications.

We maintain network audits on an ongoing basis and will work with you to find the right balance when replacing hardware, this makes sure that your company is getting the most value out of each piece of hardware.

3: Illegal software

Running illegal software may be the easiest trap into which many companies fall into.
Many organisations don’t understand they do not “own” software, since programs and applications are commonly licensed. Worse, some firms use “borrowed” applications or pirated programs. Problems arise either in the form of audits and penalties or challenging delays (due to product activation conflicts and other licensing issues) when returning failed systems to operation.

Businesses must understand there are no shortcuts to running legitimate operations. All software, applications, and programs must be properly licensed.

With more manufacturers implementing product activation features, in which software programs report their installation and usage back to the manufacturer, overuse or outright piracy is becoming more difficult or impossible, anyway. But violations still happen.

Businesses can protect against licensing errors and penalties, and help ensure the fastest recovery times when failures occur, by carefully documenting and tracking all software license purchases and deployments.

Further, software licenses (including for operating systems, business apps, and office productivity applications, accounting programs, security tools, and other utilities) should be purchased only from reputable technology partners. License sales on eBay that look too good to be true are.

We work closely with core software vendors and resellers to ensure that you’re getting the best value for your software purchases. Our ongoing network audits also cover your licensed software so we always know what licences you have available when you need them.
Most software vendors offer OpEx licences where you will pay a small amount each month and benefit from having always up to date software.

4: Poor backup strategies

Despite numerous choices, methods, and options, many companies fail to adequately back up data — a mistake that can be unrecoverable.

Even companies that believe their data is properly protected may find themselves at risk. Occasionally, incorrect data (as in the wrong data) is backed up. In other cases, tape backups prove unreliable. Fortunately, small businesses can follow simple steps to securely protect their data.

Since data backups are so critical to an organisation’s livelihood, small businesses should work with proficient IT consultants or technology partners to ensure the right data is being backed up and that it’s being backed up as frequently as required. In addition, technology professionals should regularly test backup sets to confirm the data can be recovered in its entirety.

We can work with small businesses to determine what data, files, and information should be backed up, how often to create the data sets, where to locate the backups, and how often to test the sets’ integrity. We also prove invaluable in updating backup routines when software upgrades, migrations, and other updates change critical file locations.