5 things that are probably missing in your IT operations
Your company is a step ahead of the competition in leveraging technology. Employees have the proper tools to do their jobs efficiently and their tedious, repetitive tasks are automated. You rarely have any downtime, and if you do, it goes unnoticed as redundancies kick in. The IT department is able to work on strategic and revenue-generating tech initiatives without sacrificing their daily IT tasks. All in all, your IT operations seem perfectly fine, but these are five things that you might have overlooked.
#1. Regular testing of backup and disaster recovery (BDR) plan
Companies invest in a BDR plan to ensure that their operations will get back up and running quickly if disaster strikes. What they usually fail to recognize is that something could also go wrong to disrupt their BDR scheme. Therefore, it’s important to regularly test your plan. This way, your business can be sure that your backup and disaster recovery strategy will roll into action and bring you back to normal business operations.
BDR testing is critical to check if your IT operations are meeting the expected recovery targets, and allows you to make necessary changes so that there are no surprises during a real disaster. It can also point out any vulnerabilities that need to be addressed.
How often a company should test their BDR plan will depend on the nature of their business. What may work for an advertising firm might not be sufficient for a banking institution. But you should run a full test at least once a year. It’s also important to test when there are changes to the infrastructure that could affect the BDR process. And if you’re required to comply with stringent regulations like PCI DSS, you’ll need more regular testing.
#2. Documentation of IT Operations including network infrastructure
Though most business executives and IT professionals say that it’s crucial to have strong and up-to-date network documentation, in reality, it often falls at the bottom of your IT staff’s priority list. They get too caught up in day-to-day administration, troubleshooting, and other IT projects. Network documentation ends up collecting dust until one day, it becomes the center of attention. All of a sudden a natural calamity destroys your network, or your chief IT administrator leaves, or compliance auditors drop by. When any of those things happen, your IT operations staff will run around like headless chickens, desperately scrambling for files and those old network diagrams.
Documenting your network infrastructure is the proactive approach to responding to such situations. Since the document contains everything about your network, including how it’s built, used, and supported, your IT operations team can completely recreate your network if a disaster strikes. They can also use the document to easily transition to a new IT administrator, quickly train new IT employees, and comply with necessary government regulations affecting your industry.
Not only that, since troubleshooting most network problems requires a thorough diagnosis of the network’s characteristics, capabilities, and history, documentation will make troubleshooting and regular maintenance easier, faster, and more effective. It’ll also ensure your network’s scalability and stability as you add more technology in the future.
Your network infrastructure diagram should have the following details:
- Network topology diagram
- Server names, roles, and IP addresses
- Software versions and proof of licenses
- Networking hardware: switches, routers, gateways
- How the device is connected to the network
- How the device is configured
- Backup of the configuration
- Firmware version that the device is running
- Active directory
- Backup software version and procedures
#3. Cybersecurity employee training
Your employees have a critical role in securing your company’s data. However, many organizations fail to provide proper training for their staff since they think that cybersecurity is a technical challenge that is solely the IT department’s responsibility. This misconception has led many to develop poor habits in safeguarding digital data. Over-reliance on conventional security measures such as antivirus and firewalls have also led to a false sense of security. They fail to realize that the weakest point in infrastructure security is people. In fact, phishing scams, which preys on people’s vulnerabilities, is the most popular type of cyberattack.
Since employees are an organization’s first line of defense, they need ongoing employee awareness training to stay on top of security best practices. They must learn how to identify phishing scams, which is why phishing simulations should be a regular part of your security awareness training program.
#4. Inclusion in employee offboarding
When an employee leaves the company, your IT operations staff immediately disables their account access and administrative rights and secures all of the highly confidential information in his possession, right? Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. In fact, according to TEK Systems, “only 14% of IT leaders strongly agree that their organization has an effective offboarding process, and at the end of the contract, only 6% of IT leaders report that they conduct a formal offboarding process where knowledge and experiences are transitioned from contingent workers to internal staff.” These statistics are alarming since former staff can pose serious security risks to the organization. For example, you might overlook that your ex-employee knows your social media passwords, thus you may end up locked out of your own social media accounts.
It’s important that your IT support staff work closely with your HR team during employee offboarding to remove the exiting employee’s permissions. This should also be applied to employees who get promoted or change teams.
Your IT team should keep meticulous logs and documentation to track who has access to which system logins, network permissions, equipment usage, and more. Next, they should be immediately notified when an employee is planning to exit the company or change teams. Make sure that you also have a plan of action for emergency situations like a sudden termination of an employee.
Treat employee offboarding as a high priority item that your IT support team must deal with so that you can meet your company’s security mandates.
#5. Future-proofing technology
Your technology solutions might work now, but can they support your business in the future as it grows? Can they keep up and stay relevant with the rapidly changing technology landscape or will they require a complete overhaul a year from now? How do you know if the technology that you invest in today will still be supported in the near future? All these questions point to the importance of future-proofing your technology and staying ahead of the technology curve. Woefully, companies often forget to do this.
Businesses can prepare their IT systems for the future by investing in scalable technologies, such as cloud services, that can easily grow and adapt with ease. With the flexibility they allow, you can be confident that your IT will evolve as your organization does, so you don’t have to worry about your current systems becoming quickly obsolete.
Always consider the big picture before jumping onto the latest tech. While it’s a good idea to move fast, it’s best to consult the IT team first. Focus on what your organization really needs. Assess if that new technology will really address your needs. If not, then maybe it’s best to put it on the back burner for another day. Also, remember that the best technology decisions are the ones that can have a positive impact across the organization.
It’s easy to get lost in the myriad tasks required to cover all of your bases when it comes to technology. By subscribing to Frontline’s managed IT services, you can rest easy knowing that you have a team of highly skilled IT specialists that takes care of all of your IT needs.