Every modern business owner shares one common problem: a constant need for up-to-date technology solutions. However, this amount of maintenance can be a full-time job.
Luckily, the solution is easier than you think. All you need is a regular schedule for maintaining each individual part of your business technology, from network monitoring to malware scans and beyond.
If you’re not an IT professional by trade, then setting a business maintenance schedule in place can seem overwhelming—but it doesn’t have to be. A methodical approach can help streamline the way you maintain your tech, removing the question of what needs to be done, and when.
Why Your Business Tech Needs a Maintenance Schedule
It’s simple: Your business’ success depends on having access to software and tools that are up-to-date and fully functional without any security gaps. That’s true across the board, whether you’re in marketing, eCommerce, or even B2B technology.
Without a maintenance schedule, you risk:
- Lost productivity
- Computer and network downtime
- Security holes and potential breaches
- Increased IT spending
The average large business spends over $11,000 per employee on IT costs, a significant portion of which arise from issues that could be mitigated by simple upkeep.
Think about how much time your employees spend troubleshooting every time the network goes down or a database fails to backup entries, and where they could be more productive.
What Types of Business Tech Need Regular Updates?
The specific tools that you need to include in your maintenance schedule vary from business to business, and from industry to industry. However, some common business tech include:
- Operating systems
- Security systems
- Remote access systems
- Network resources
- Data storage and databases
- Backup systems
This list is far from exhaustive. Any system or tool that is an integral part of your daily operations needs to be added to your maintenance schedule.
If you find it difficult to identify systems that need regular maintenance, then consulting with a business IT firm can help you find and fill any gaps.
Perform Business Tech Maintenance Regularly
The key to finding success in your business technology maintenance regimen requires consistency.
Processes such as system updates, data backups, and security checks need to be conducted on a regular schedule, whether that’s weekly, monthly, quarterly, or even annually.
For best results, consult with an IT professional to discuss the frequency of performing each maintenance task. If your organization already maintains an IT department, then establishing a schedule is a task you can outsource to them (with your oversight and approval).
7 Steps to Up-to-Date Business Technology
Your business’ specific needs are going to vary by your industry and processes. For instance, marketing businesses need to update CMS tools and content databases, while eCommerce businesses must check on their online point-of-sale and dropship systems.
However, nearly every business utilizes these seven tech systems, making this a great starting point while you consult with IT to fill in any missing areas.
You can establish your maintenance schedule today by scheduling these seven important tasks:
1. Ongoing: Perform Network Monitoring
Network monitoring is a near-constant task for most companies, and it entails continuous (sometimes manual) checks for network problems. It’s a vital part of network management, and can turn up issues such as:
- Slow response time
- Low consistency and reliability
- Status request failures
- Unpredicted downtime
2. Weekly: Check Systems for Malware
Any system that connects to the Internet is vulnerable to malware, which can cause irreversible and expensive damage to your business’ servers, clients, and networks.
You should already have anti-malware measures installed as part of your company’s security system. However, it is also important to conduct weekly scans to find any malicious software.
3. Weekly: Back Up Important Data
The average data breach incident costs an American corporation over $5 million, a sum that can be near-catastrophic at the wrong time. This is especially true of compromised data records, which are the most common type of data breach in 2019.
You can help avoid these issues with regular weekly backups. However, many businesses neglect this altogether, rather focusing their efforts on security. While security is important, nearly as many data breaches are caused by simple human error and software failure, both of which have a 29 percent prevalence rate.
4. Monthly: Search for Patches and Updates
Current operating systems, network systems, and software tools for businesses are updated on a regular basis, with new patches rolling out monthly or even more often in some cases. Missing a patch can lead to poor performance, incompatibility issues, and even security holes.
Keep a master list of all the systems and tools that require regular monitoring for patches and updates, and adhere to that schedule.
Monthly updates are recommended at a minimum, but if you use tools that move faster (for example, security systems often roll out patches multiple times a month and sometimes even multiple times weekly), then, by all means, change your schedule accordingly.
5. Monthly: Check Power Supplies
Power outages can have a catastrophic effect on your business by shorting out hardware, leading to lost data, downtime, and system failures. In fact, a power loss can cost a small business over $1,000 due to all of these factors.
Safeguard against power outages by conducting a monthly check of all power supplies and backups, including generators, surge protectors, and other devices that help preserve data and uptime in the event of a power loss outside of your control.
6. Quarterly: Find (and Remove) Redundancies
No business owner is a stranger to redundancies. You’re always looking for ways to cut out unnecessary processes and costs, but what about databases and systems?
Think about it: An employee creates a database entry, but leaves his computer before saving it. Another employee unknowingly adds the entry herself, saving it, before the first employee returns and saves his own entry. Now the entry is there twice, taking up space and potentially causing confusion about which record is the right one.
This scenario can happen hundreds of times in a year, and it’s even more prevalent on remote teams. Slogging through redundant records can be a nuisance of the past when you conduct a regular database check to remove duplicate entries on each of your data records.
7. Annually: Audit Your Telecom Needs
Are your phone, Internet, and server packages meeting your business’ current needs? Business needs evolve and change over time. Therefore, if you’re in a volatile or fast-paced industry, you might find that your bandwidth is no longer adequate just months after upgrading your package.
An annual check of your telecom performance can help show whether you’re purchasing enough service to keep up with your business needs. You may find that more bandwidth is needed to accommodate more employees as you grow.
Identify Areas of Improvement—and Take Action
Whether you’re in charge of executing your maintenance schedule, your in-house IT department handles it, or you work with a consulting agency to get the job done, make sure that the approach includes regular checks for ways to improve.
That can mean improving the maintenance schedule itself, or identifying tech processes that are ineffective, unnecessarily complex, or redundant.
Leverage your ISPs Audit Capabilities
Even with the best plans, in-house IT maintenance for businesses is sometimes out of reach for the average business owner. With all the daily operations already in your hands, adding a maintenance schedule to your plate can be too much to handle.
That’s when you should work with your Cox Business, or your local ISP (Internet Service Provider), which can often provide you with an annual audit of your telephone and Internet services. That way, you’ll have the help you need to ensure you get the most ROI out of your technology investments.