For most SMB owners, IT is seen as a cost-center—something that doesn’t drive profits, but a bottomless pit to be filled with capital expenditure. Although this mentality had changed somewhat as technology has become more and more integrated into the day to day operations of almost any business, many people struggle to see their technology as something that can provide efficiencies. Think about your interactions with computers, smart phones, and printers in your business. Did that produce an audible sigh?
A subconscious shake of the head or dismissive eye roll? If that was the case, you’re definitely not alone. The technology that many SMB owners and their employees interact with can be slow, error prone, and causes little but headaches. Oftentimes, however, this is because that same technology hasn’t been properly managed. Workstations, smart phones, and yes, even printers can be made to work for you—all it takes is some forwarding thinking and proactivity.
Since printers can be, at times, the bane of even the IT Professional’s existence, I figured we could tackle them first. Printers jam, they throw error codes in hieroglyphics, and seem to have a 6th sense capable of determining the criticality of a specific print job and seemingly choose hold it up in kind. Many of these issues are due to items known as consumables—but these consumables are outside of what you would normally think of, e.g. toner and paper—things like fusers, rollers, and waste cartridges. They can also be due to a lack of right-sizing—a small desktop printer that you purchased for $60 at an office supply store may be able to keep up with one user, but certainly not an entire accounting department. Before purchasing a printer, consider the role that it is going to fulfill. A large multi-function printer can seem like a huge expense initially, but it will pay dividends with its extended lifetime and more enterprise specific capabilities. Additionally, many companies offer so-called managed print services, where a piece of software residing inside your network monitors the printer for its supply needs, and can trigger automatic shipments—preventing those late night runs to the office supply store for that presentation you really should have finished yesterday that’s happening at 8am tomorrow.
Now that we’ve gotten the biggest frustration inducer out of the way, why not tackle the piece of technology you probably interact with the most at work—your desktop or laptop. I’m sure many of you have experienced that annoying error message that pops up every time you log in. You know the one. You’ve read it once, it appeared to be in ancient Greek, it never seems to do anything, but you have to click Ok every morning and then one day it mysteriously disappeared. Or perhaps you’ve received the dread BSOD (Blue Screen of Death), something equally inscrutable but causing you to have to turn your computer off and on again just to get some work done—and hope you didn’t lose any work in the process. Our computers and the software that they run are critical components in almost any business, and small interruptions can really add up. Think about that error message in the above example—clicking ok every morning doesn’t really take too much time for an individual. But what if that same error message is happening to 30 people, every morning? How fast do you think those 2 seconds add up, and how much lost productivity does that translate into over the course of a month? Or a year? You would be amazed how much more streamlined well maintained business infrastructure can be. Regular updates may seem like a time consuming process, whether they be for your computer or software on it, but they can prevent many of those strange error messages you receive. An up-to-date and centrally managed antivirus application can prevent viruses from getting into one computer and spreading across the entire network. Hours, even days of productivity can be lost, not the mention the expense of having “The IT Guy” come out and fix all those infected computers, from something like a Cryptolocker infection.
Most of you are seeing a pattern develop here: much like your car, the technology that runs your business needs preventative maintenance. However, it also needs to be the right fit for its duties.
You may be ‘saving money’ by not updating your desktops until one breaks down completely, but an outdated machine is both slowing down the employee using it, and likely prone to infections (by not being regularly updated) and software incompatibilities that only further exacerbate the issue. By making the technology in your business work for you, simply by keeping it up to date and well maintained, you gain tremendous efficiencies for your staff and by consequence your business. That doesn’t even factor in the less tangible benefit of well-maintained technology for your employees—less frustration, less downtime, less time spent fighting with technology, and more time doing what you hired them for—their job.
Mythos Technology is an IT consulting and management firm that provides Managed Technology Services including hosted cloud solutions. For more information, please visit www.mythostech.com or call (951) 813-2672.