Large companies have a low tolerance for downtime, and yet if outages occur at smaller firms it can be even more disastrous.
As such, having strategies and solutions in place to prevent this is a priority. So what steps can you take to shore your mission-critical systems up against the likelihood of disruption?
Harness incident management software
The fact is that you can’t completely eliminate the possibility of downtime, no matter how hard you try. It’s safer to assume that issues will arise regularly, and to put a plan in place to troubleshoot them swiftly.
This is where an incident management system will serve you well. It allows flaws to be flagged and fixed on the fly, with progress tracked and performance accessed simultaneously.
Take security seriously
Many IT dilemmas originate from outside interference, with cybercriminals targeting small businesses in large numbers each year.
If you aren’t aware of the threats you face, you’ll be more likely to fall victim to them. So using modern security software to protect all assets, including mobile devices, is a must.
Train employees effectively
We all make mistakes, and in a business context it’s wise to limit your exposure to human error by ensuring that every team member receives adequate training in the use of mission-critical systems.
Knowledge is power, and so if you’re planning to implement a BYOD policy, you have to bring employees into the loop regarding what’s expected of them, and allow experienced staff to assist newcomers. Only by understanding their responsibilities, and knowing what will happen to the wider organization if they neglect them, will everyone be on the same page.
Reduce reliance on in-house systems
When you’re running everything on-site, if something fails then the fallout is down to you to fix. Outsourcing critical solutions to the cloud, on the other hand, allows you to offload the upkeep to a third party provider that is far more capable of keeping everything ticking over.
While you can go all-in on this strategy, many businesses find that a hybrid approach is best. Keeping certain solutions on-site, such as those that are endowed with data you don’t want to entrust to anyone else, while migrating other less critical services off-site makes sense.
Keep all software up to date
Downtime can happen for the simplest reasons, and using out of data software when newer iterations are available is a common example of this which is easy to avoid if you plan ahead and take the initiative.
That’s not to say that every update will be without its issues. But it’s better to bite the bullet and install the latest revisions, because aside from potential compatibility issues, you’ll also get the benefit of better security as well.
Backup data regularly
Earlier we mentioned the business continuity benefits of moving away from relying solely on in-house systems. The same applies from a data loss perspective, because using remotely hosted services means you can afford to implement a robust backup process that protects information even if complications arise.
It’s possible to automate data backup, and you need to be careful about when it is scheduled, and what type of backup you use, so that productivity isn’t hampered by poor performance or service unavailability.
Stay on top of performance metrics
You shouldn’t only be looking into business systems when they fail. A smarter tactic is to make use of monitoring tools to oversee how assets are performing, and be on the lookout for whatever anomalies arise so that you can snuff them out sooner rather than later.
The other advantage of persistent monitoring is that you can see how usage changes over time, and predict the point at which your current setup will no longer be able to meet the requirements of your growing business. That will give you a timeframe for implementing upgrades, or making tweaks that will stop the rot setting in.
Accommodate remote workers
Remote working is being widely adopted, and so your business systems can’t just be equipped to serve on-site employees. Instead, they must perform as intended even if team members are working from home.
Listening to feedback from employees is useful in this scenario, as they’ll be able to advise you when things aren’t right, and give you a sense of what changes need to be made.
The bottom line
Working to create and adhere to best practices for keeping systems up and running in a small business is more than worth it in the long run. And the alternative will leave you exposed to downtime that might spell the end for your organization, so there’s really no choice but to embrace this.
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