I was recently asked by a new prospect what I thought were some of the most important things to keep in mind when dealing with technology for a small business. Immediately, my mind went into a flurry of thoughts - from backup to security to over extending life-cycles to under-funding to over-simplifying requirements. I was a whirling dervish before I sat down and documented all of my concerns. So far I've come up with a Baker's dozen of "mistakes" negatively impact technology that we see over and over again when we take on a new client. I thought this would make for a great series to share, so (and in no particular order) here's "Mistake" #1:
Having a "Set it and Forget it" Mentality
This is probably the most common mistake small businesses make with their technology and probably one of the hardest habits to break. Make no mistake about it: hardware and software require routine and regular maintenance. Without it, it's only a matter of time before something bad will happen. Unfortunately, small business owners bring their consumer mind-set when viewing their technology. Because most small businesses start out as a one or two person shop, they're still carrying around the mentality of a single, home user. Unfortunately, it's hard to shed this mentality as the business grows and the technology needs grow with it. As a consumer, they've been sold all along that their computing needs are the same as the cell phones they carry in their pockets. Nothing could be further from the truth. Every large business knows this. Unfortunately, it usually takes a serious blow to their systems before it trickles down to the small business owner.
Think of your IT infrastructure as you would your car. If you forget to put oil in it or keep up the regular service, your engine will die. Servers, workstations, and related software applications need continual care and maintenance so that they can perform at optimal levels. Similar to a car, the more time and energy you spend in caring for your systems, the better they will perform and the longer they will last. This has been proven time and time again. Unfortunately, too many small business owners are penny-wise and pound-foolish when it comes to their IT.