group of colleagues around a table using technology

In information technology, best practices beat best products.

Information technology is a field people often view in terms of things—hardware, software, networks, data. Organizations frequently disconnect these programs and devices from the way in which they implement them. According to this mindset, the job of the IT department is to set everything up, not determine how to use it.

However, this neglects a fundamental aspect of an IT professional’s expertise: understanding processes and systems, and designing an IT environment which makes the best use of your businesses resources and workflow. At the core of this process-based mindset is the understanding that technology is only as good as the people using it. And even the most competent professionals can fall victim to bad organizational systems.

What happens when your system lets your IT down.

In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, 2013, Target fell victim to one of the biggest retail security breaches in U.S. history. As a result, hackers were able to steal millions of credit card numbers, addresses, telephone numbers, and other pieces of private information from Target customers. It took Target two weeks to notice the breach, and the resulting cleanup, legal payments, and security upgrades cost them millions of dollars. And that’s even before you add in their lost sales.

The irony is that, by all accounts, Target’s security technology was top-notch. They were, in fact, hoping to get ahead of the curve among other retail chains in protecting customer data. And their system worked perfectly! Their software spotted the hack and notified the Bangalore-based team whose job it was to monitor the system. In turn, they dutifully reported the breach to Target’s security operations center in Minneapolis. But then the team in Minneapolis who were supposed to handle the threat did nothing. The alarms sounded, but nobody responded.

This is the kind of human error that even the best systems can’t protect against. And it delivers an excellent case study on why your IT upgrades have to include training as well as technology.

Do you currently follow IT best practices?

Before you spend a lot of capital on upgrading your systems, consider whether you’re getting the most out of your current setup. If not, an investment in training might be a better use of your resources. Here are a few IT best practices you might consider:

  • How well do your staff comply with your current security protocols? Do they know what they should be doing, and do they understand why it’s important? Like the Target scenario, the best security system in the world won’t save you if no one uses it.
  • How does your business backup and store data? Does your current system require users to manually backup their hard drives, or does it run automatically?
  • Do you store your data on cloud servers, and if so, do all your employees use them properly? Or, do they still handle important work document on local storage? Investing in a system no one uses will only bring a false sense of security.
  • Are you making best use of your current network resources? Or does your system contain inefficiencies which are holding you back? Before you upgrade to newer technology, conduct an assessment to be sure you’re getting the most out of what you already have.

Best practices beat best products.

The bottom line is: save some of your capital for ensuring IT best practices are followed in your business. Bringing your staff up to speed takes time. And that time will eat up a certain portion of your IT resources. However, without ensuring your team can follow through on the various procedures your IT upgrade is designed to enable, the money you invest in new tech goes to waste. Or in other words: best practices beat best products.

If you would like to work with us to ensure your company follows IT best practices, we offer a free network assessment. We can work with you to better understand your current systems, and help you decide where your resources will make the most impact.

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