Most of us know a fair amount about computers, even kids are joining circuits and coding programs in schools – but that does that make everyone an IT expert? It’s fair to say almost all workplaces have that employee who can finesse the printer or use shortcuts nobody else knows about. They have skills, absolutely, but they often know just enough to be dangerous to your business.
Hobby IT skills are learned on home computers which are very different to a professional business setup. When something goes wrong on a home computer, there’s no drastic impact if parts need to be replaced, data is lost or it stays down for a week or two. In a business setting, every problem costs time and money, usually creating a domino effect through the entire network. Would you gamble the success of your business with a non-professional who did a quick Google search? It’s unlikely you’d let someone be your lawyer purely because they can deliver a stubborn argument, nor would you let someone perform surgery just because it looked easy on TV. Businesses have unique, specialized IT needs that go beyond amateur computer skills and there’s always going to be more at stake.
Designing and implementing a custom backup plan for your business is a particularly interesting area. While most home users skip this part entirely, an IT professional has seen (and recovered) all manner of situations and will use that knowledge to ensure that if the worst happens, your business is covered. This could mean anything from having a complete copy of your drive stored securely in the cloud or drilling down to backup only the most important data. An IT expert is equipped to help you identify the value in each piece of data and implement a plan so robust that if your business is ever hit by disaster or breach, downtime is minimal – along with losses.
If a disaster ever does occur, like fire, flood or theft, would an amateur know what to do? Who to call? These situations are so charged with tension and panic that making the wrong moves can lead to more damage. A professional helps design continuity/disaster plans, which map out exactly what should happen, who should do it and in what order. It takes out the guesswork and minimizes downtime. Perhaps more importantly, the expertly written disaster plan will include a complete risk analysis so that you know in advance where to strengthen your protection. It also includes a business analysis so you know which systems are dependent so you can stop the domino effect, plus know the legal/contractual impacts, financial impacts and so on.
Your IT professional will also help ensure your business is meeting any regulatory requirements. Many businesses are subject to strict data rules set by government bodies, such as FISMA and HIPAA. The regulations change often and demand increasingly more attention to data security, with hefty penalties for businesses that fall behind. Professionals are constantly in the loop around upcoming revisions and how best to comply with little to no disruption to your daily business. Part of ensuring your business is safe means staying on top of software updates and patching multiple computers at the same time.
The best option is to run the updates before employees arrive for the day, and since the process can take a few hours and often includes prerequisites, it’s generally not something amateurs will prioritize. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen with recent cyber-attacks, delaying a security update by even a few days can lead to disaster. Engaging an IT professional is a cost-effective solution that keeps your business running, growing and earning.