How to Know if Your IT Needs a Refresh (and What To Do if It Does)

Here we present a few technology red flags to watch out for. Fortunately, many of these issues can be resolved with the right equipment or process approach.
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Business is complex, and there are many factors that go into making a company successful, even for small operations. Proper planning, an understanding of customer needs, and skilled employees are essential. And so is a strong technical backbone. 

But, given your day-to-day responsibilities, you may not notice when that backbone starts to fail. Or you may not realize that seemingly unrelated events (such as an increase in customer complaints) are caused by technical failure. So, it’s important to recognize the signs of infrastructure issues. 

Here we present a few technology red flags to watch out for. Fortunately, many of these issues can be resolved with the right equipment or process approach. So, we provide some suggestions for solutions as well. 

Customers Are Complaining or Leaving

Most people’s threshold for frustration is very low. Waiting for an e-commerce site to load, struggling to find the right button to perform a particular task, or standing by for a representative to answer the phone are common causes of annoyance. These situations may lead to complaints, poor reviews, or customer defection, all of which will negatively impact your bottom line. 

The following video explains the importance of customer experience:

It could be that a simple fix is all that’s needed, such as letting customers on hold know the expected wait time to speak to a representative. Such measures can go a long way toward alleviating irritation. But they might not be enough if the root cause of the problem is malfunctioning or out-of-date hardware or software. 

If you notice a trend of customer complaints or reduced business, perform a thorough review of your customer-facing systems to ensure they’re up to date and supported by adequate hardware and software. Also, ensure you have enough staffing to support those updates. 

Downtime Is Increasing

System downtime can be attributed to many possible factors, including network failure, outdated equipment, or human error. The problem could be due to new systems competing for resources that may be supported by older hardware, or software that’s unable to handle the new demands. 

If that’s the issue, it’s time to look closely at how current equipment should be upgraded. Consider bringing in additional staff to keep day-to-day processes running while existing staff make the needed inquiries and updates. Another possible solution is managed IT services, which can provide consistent computing power, making outages less common. These professionals can also bring an outside approach to creating a new technology roadmap. 

The problem of human error may be handled by ensuring all IT staff are up to date on their skills. Conduct an assessment to find out where you may need to provide additional training or bring on team members who are more familiar with certain systems. Make sure employees know this process isn’t about singling anyone out for reprimand or job loss. It’s about ensuring the team as a whole is where it needs to be to effectively serve the business. 

Software Is Not Supported

Unsupported software is more than a matter of not being able to get technical assistance when needed. It’s a security issue. Software updates include security patches and, when updates don’t happen, the software is more vulnerable to attack. 

One of the primary reasons companies don’t upgrade software is cost. But the cost of an attack could be many times greater. Keep in mind that unused software should be entirely removed from a system because it can provide an attack vector for hackers even if it’s inactivated or unused. 

Innovation Is Lagging

Consider all the companies that had to quickly convert to a work from home (WFH) model in 2020. Those that had an agile mindset were able to do it successfully, while those that resisted change struggled. Technology is ever-changing and companies must be ready and willing to change with it or incorporate new systems into their operations as customer and business needs evolve. 

Even when things are working well, technology should still be evaluated to ensure it continues to meet the needs of the business and will continue to do so in the future. While it may be uncomfortable, businesses should be ready to change course at any time. Consider conducting a review at least annually to map technology needs to current and future business requirements. 

The Same Problems Keep Recurring

If any of these problems or others recur, that’s a problem in itself. It means the real issues aren’t getting resolved and you’re likely using up your available resources on putting out fires. To function most effectively, businesses must do more than simply react to the latest emergency. Getting beyond that operating mode and building stability requires proper planning. 

One way to ensure this planning is by having an adequate IT budget for professionals who understand technology needs. It should cover the cost of hiring enough skilled staff to keep things running smoothly and consistently as well as the right hardware and software, including needed updates. With those things in place, IT can become proactive rather than reactive and provide a smooth platform to support the company’s operations. 

Focus on ROI

If you’re thinking you don’t have the budget to conduct needed updates and upgrades or hire new staff in the near term, consider what not performing those actions will cost you in the long term. For example, out of date systems are less secure, leaving you vulnerable to cyberattacks that can lead to lost time and money as you try to recover lost data, not to mention lost revenue due to a damaged reputation. 

While it may seem counterintuitive, you may even want to consider curtailing certain services until you can ensure they’re functioning optimally. Fewer consistently high-performing services may end up being more profitable than many that don’t work well. 

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