Since the early days back in the 90’s in LA distribution centers and warehouses, information technology has evolved to become the beating heart of the industry, helping businesses to operate more efficiently and with greater productivity than ever before. However, as with many things in business, IT only works well under its own steam to a certain point; everything else is your responsibility.
Mistakes are bound to happen, particularly when it comes to managing a piece of your business (technology) that most business owners have no idea about. It’s in this area of your business that, basically, you have to take someone’s word for it. Technology, and IT specifically, has become this “black box” that businesses have come to rely on more and more and yet have less and less of an understanding of.
Businesses will certainly run into speedbumps and headaches managing and maintaining their IT along the way. But, in an area that’s becoming more costly, more complex, and more interspersed within the operations of the business every day, now more than ever it’s important to learn from others’ mistakes so that you can avoid their pain and leverage their lessons learned.
Here are the top 5 IT mistakes you and your distribution business can’t afford to make:
1. Failure to keep software up to date
Failing to keep your software up to date is one of the biggest IT mistakes you’re likely to make as an LA distributor. Perhaps your IT staff haven’t had time to pay any attention to your computers recently, have forgotten that an update was imminent, or simply haven’t familiarized themselves with the technology yet. Whatever the excuse, this one mistake could cost you dearly a little further down the line.
Imagine you’re approaching an important inventory, only to realize that your current software is just no match for the data you’ll be inputting, or receiving a stark warning in the form of a security breach because your data had a security ”hole” in it. Such things do happen, although are preventable with a little foresight.
2. Not preparing for the worst
As much as you may not want to acknowledge the risks or think about what could be waiting around the corner, there’s a lot that can go wrong in a busy warehouse environment. From natural disasters and extreme weather conditions, to the threat of criminal damage or the increased risk of fires owing to the amount of unattended equipment that’s likely to be lying around, things can and do go wrong from time to time. It’s how you cope with such matters that define the type of business owner you are.
Do you have a contingency plan in place for such an eventuality? Are your systems and files backed up locally and offsite (preferably in the cloud) so that business can keep going, even if disaster should strike? Have you tested and confirmed these backups really work? If not, you’re guilty of making a top-five IT mistake, and you really should be reassessing your priorities quickly.
3. Relying too much on your “binky”
Just like a baby’s “binky”, often times having an inhouse IT person or team is comforting. Unfortunately, and just like a “binky”, more often than not this comfort leads to unintended consequences down the road – too often the inhouse solution isn’t cost effective, provides less technical expertise, “band-aids” systems, and too often justifies their own jobs by creating inefficiencies and redundant or unneeded projects.
The act of outsourcing any number of IT roles means you always have a wealth of experience at your fingertips and more time to focus on the things that really matter – such as day-to-day tasks. However, in order to outsource you must also agree to relinquish control over certain aspects of your company’s IT. Are you bringing in a specialist for a valid reason, or because you don’t wish to take the time and effort to learn a particularly complicated procedure? It’s essential to know when it’s pertinent to outsource a job, or when you’d be making a mistake.
4. Poor technical training for employees
Regardless of whether you have an IT expert on site or at your disposal, you’d still do well to ensure that your workforce is well versed in a variety of technical issues, such as security, software installation, and each application’s basic uses. To neglect any team member during your training is a basic mistake and could cost you if there’s ever an issue when the IT expert is out of town.
Technical training is an absolute must for all staff members, preparing them for every eventuality, while you’ll feel reassured to know that you have more than one person to turn to in the event of a disaster.
5. Being blasé about security
And finally – perhaps the worst IT mistake an LA distributor can make is to be convinced that matters of security are someone else’s worry or to assume that breaches or losses only happen to other people. This is not the case at all; security is always your problem and there is never an excuse for being blasé about the ways in which your network and systems are protected.
Weak passwords, unsecured wireless Internet, leaving shipping computers out of sight and mind on the warehouse floor, and failing to properly secure equipment before you leave for the day all fall into the category of ‘being blasé’ and need to be rectified immediately. Isn’t it time you took the security of your company a little more seriously?
So, there you have it; a list that is by no means exhaustive, but hopefully helpful, nonetheless. What IT mistakes have you been guilty of making or have heard others have made? Please let us know in the Comments section below.
If you own or manage a distribution or manufacturing company in Los Angeles, and you’re looking to stay up to date on the latest technology, be sure to download your free guide, How COOs at Los Angeles Distributors and Manufacturers Get More Done: A Guide to Productivity, Data, Staffing, Delegation, and Making It Home for Dinner Most Nights.