Six IT mistakes SMBs make (and how to fix them)

February 21, 2023

Six IT mistakes SMBs make (and how to fix them)

February 21, 2023

Security icons over a person

The persistent rise in technological innovations over the last few years, especially since the global pandemic, has clearly shown that technology can act as a significant driver in nearly every business, regardless of its size.

John McLaughlin is a Partner and member of MNP’s Technology Group. A pioneer in managed services in Canada, John has always seen his work as an important partnership with clients built on trust. John uses his customer-oriented background and passion for partnering to accelerate the growth and adoption of new technologies through sharing of best practices.

As a small and medium-size business (SMB) owner, it might seem wise to invest your time and resources in operational activities that directly contribute to business profitability but treating technology as an afterthought can have dire consequences for your business.

Many SMB owners do not consider an investment in their technology as critical to their operations. The ones that do though often run into the same mistakes – so we’ve outlined a few major ones, and covered off what you can do to prevent or rectify these mistakes using solutions designed by our team of experts.

Non-existent cyber and data security

A lack of real cyber security is easily the biggest mistake SMBs make when it comes to IT. According to a report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), nearly 45 percent of small businesses in Canada experienced a random cyber attack in 2022 and 27 percent went through a targeted attack. Viruses (like spyware and ransomware) have been around for as long as computers have existed, and hackers continue to use them to wreak havoc. A virus is malicious software that is injected into your business’ system through contaminated web links or file downloads. The proliferation of technology and widespread access to computers makes it easy for malicious agents to access your data. Important business data can be stolen or compromised if you don’t have the right cyber security solutions in place.

Your business will benefit from a customized cyber security protection strategy that is developed with an understanding of the risks and vulnerabilities you’re exposed to. Next steps would be to deploy and maintain a security infrastructure, provide frequent user security training to your staff, and conduct resiliency tests as often as necessary.

External forces can hold your business ransom and disrupt your productivity using spyware. Spyware comes in a variety of forms, ranging from annoying like changing your default homepage or creating pop-up ads when trying to navigate the internet, to more severe ones that can prohibit website access altogether. Spam emails are also common. Nearly 45 percent of the emails you receive are spam and they can cost you money, time, and productivity.

You can protect your business from unauthorized access through a centralized endpoint protection and anti-spam program. It’s also important that you build, operate, and maintain an effective privacy program. This enables your business to develop its unique approach to governing the use of data and reducing the risks of a data breach. You will also build trust and deliver greater value to your customers, creating a distinct competitive advantage.

With the help of professionals, like MNP Digital, you can also manage security information and events, back up your security devices, conduct risk assessments, maturity reviews and educate your staff through awareness trainings.

Weak backup strategy

While some business owners wrongly conclude that they do not need a backup strategy, others rely on their employees for data safekeeping. Handling your company data with such levity can cause huge damage as data is one of its most crucial assets. A data backup plan can be expensive and effort-intensive but recovering from a data loss is way more demanding. You can get ahead of a possible occurrence by backing up information that is critical to your business and setting up a plan to ensure that backups are frequently done.

There are several options and costs vary depending on the size of data being backed up, and the extent of granular backups that you wish to have. Almost 60 percent of small businesses fail within six months of a critical data loss. The average number of days lost in productivity due to data loss is 19 days. It is imperative that the right data be backed up and that the system be checked regularly to ensure continuous and successful backups. MNP Digital has a cloud team that can help you design a cloud architecture, migrate your data to the cloud with confidence, and manage your cloud operations.

Lack of training

IT solutions implemented can appear underwhelming because your employees lack the knowledge and skills to take full advantage of the technology. Some of your employees may find solutions too complex, while others may just be unaware of their benefits. These issues can result in your team continuing to do many functions manually, which increases the possibility of errors and reducing efficiency.

Build a more resilient organization and facilitate smoother operations by empowering your people with up-to-date information management solutions and the education required to navigate your systems. The best thing you can do is consult technology experts, such as MNP Digital to deliver on-site or virtual training to your team.


Inadequate power backup

It might seem insignificant, but it is vital to provide a proper power solution to help protect the major financial hardware investment in your business. Challenges such as surges and brownouts, to lightning strikes and outages make it important to have a protective solution in place. Power-related issues can damage your databases, software, documents, and operating systems.

The cost of damaged systems with corrupt or lost data can be high not to mention the downtime encountered when not having an adequate power solution for your equipment. These can have long-lasting effects on your systems and equipment.


Hardware/Software issues

Speaking of procurement challenges, holding on to outdated computers can seem like a cost-effective business approach, but it is a trap. Computers have an ideal shelf life of three to four years and keeping them for longer can end up being more expensive. After a certain amount of time, electronic parts will wear out and start to fail, while other components will begin to slow in response time, making the time to complete tasks longer, or some may even cause your system to hang or crash entirely, costing you time and productivity.

The same can be said for software, as over the years, companies make improvements in their software to better manage data or respond with quicker access. By holding onto older software your system falls behind in technology. If left long enough, you may not be able to benefit from the advancements made by the companies and their software if you haven’t kept up with current versions. Additionally, the hardware components of modern software like Microsoft Teams have high requirements to work properly.

That’s why it’s important to plan and implement a technology replacement program, also known as an “evergreening program”, to ensure your hardware and software are up-to-date. Engage the services of full-service procurement team, like MNP Digital, when replacing, updating, or deploying technology components. This will also help you manage vendor subscription, warranty, and licensing programs.


Insufficient technical support

Some companies run their technology in the absence of a support personnel, while others rely on one individual who becomes the resident expert in all things. Your business’ technology demands are high, and it would be unrealistic for one person to meet them.

It is advisable to work with a technology company that has the knowledge and capacity to understand your specific challenges and goals and will be an extension of your team. MNP has specific industry and technical know-how to provide capabilities and perspective that you won’t find anywhere else, allowing you to get the most out of your technology investments.

If you don’t have a strong plan to mitigate any of the mistakes we shared, reach out for a free consultation with our team of professionals. Even if you’re just starting your journey, we can work with you to develop a plan that meets your needs.

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Our team of dedicated professionals can help you determine which options are best for you and how adopting these kinds of solutions could transform the way your organization works. For more information, and for extra support along the way, contact our team.