IT failure is costly for any business. Besides time lost on work, employees can become demotivated, customers seek business elsewhere and it is expensive to resolve.

According to ZDNet, the global cost of IT failures is a staggering $3trillion. (Click here to view the article.) This equates to 4.7% of global GDP and represents the loss of employment for people affected by business collapses caused by IT failures.

There are a number of ways to prevent your business being disrupted by IT failure/problems which can be expensive and lead to lost opportunities.

Replace old equipment

Old equipment is a recipe for disaster. For example, over 20% of hard drives will have failed by the time they are four years old. It is essential that old equipment is replaced and that systems are kept up to date.

The best way to do this is to have a technology life cycle plan from the beginning, before your equipment starts dating. Such a plan will flag the equipment replacement dates and ensure that a steady flow of purchases are made over the business cycle.

Robert Houghton, president of Redemtech Inc. says “companies that are proactive in making [hardware life-cycle] considerations will derive a lot more value from their decisions than those that are reactively planning”.

Businesses, regardless of its size, can budget for new technology purchases as the old equipment nears the end of its lifecycle. This ensures the business is financially prepared to buy new equipment, rather than scrambling for funds after the technology has failed and they face the dual challenge of lost revenue on top of the equipment purchase cost.

Given just how cheap IT hardware can be, skimping on proactive replacement is one of the worst investments a business can make.

Upgrade Software

Software also needs to be kept up to date and is as equally important as old software will often operate slowly, freeze and be incompatible with new hardware. It will often be incompatible with the more recent software of business partners and stakeholders.

New software versions will also contain features that previous versions did not have. This will increase your business capabilities and ensure users work productively. Perhaps even more importantly, there are significant security advantages to maintaining the most up to date software releases, as these will contain the newest anti-hacker technologies.

Systems that are critical to the running of the business, such as accounting software or organisational databases, should never be stored on old equipment or allowed to run on outdated software. If anything should go wrong, the consequences can be costly and result in the business being unable to operate for a long period of time.

When purchasing software, it is recommended that users also commit to software maintenance. Software maintenance entitles the purchaser to receive version updates on their software application for free. This is useful for removing bugs and increasing security as issues arise and are resolved by the software company.

The hidden costs of obsolescence

Failure to maintain up to date software and hardware can also lead to negative perceptions of your business, by both employees and other stakeholders and clients. Employees will compare the technology that they work on to other similar organisations and judge negatively if they feel that they are working with substandard resources.

Similarly, using outdated software and being unable to access stakeholder resources and documents (because for example your software is unable to read .docx files) can damage perceptions of your professionalism among those with whom you hope to do business.

Backup Data

One of the simplest, yet most ignored ways of avoiding IT problems is simply backing up data. Backing up of business systems will mean that near real time data is immediately available should catastrophic loss occur.

Using cloud technology services from an IT provider is an excellent way of keeping business data backed up. Cloud technology works by connecting every computer within a business to an offsite data centre. These facilities are secure, have virtually no limits on storage and are accessible 24/7. Everything that employees work on and save will be stored in the data centre, away from the business. This ensures that work is safe from natural disaster, break-ins, and computer malfunction.

If all the company’s information, databases and systems are backed up in the cloud, retrieval is incredibly easy. In the event of IT failure, data and systems can be quickly restored and losses to productivity minimised.

Hayden McMaster