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Inside the ProServ Process

IT Services: A Proactive Approach to Mitigating Risk

Whether you’re running a small business with a couple of employees or a large corporation with branches across the country, your company’s success depends on its IT network. If the computer infrastructure goes down or your data security is compromised, the workday will grind to a halt. Sure, you can develop a disaster recovery plan that will hopefully get you up and running again. But this reactive approach is risky. It can cost you time, money, customers, and your professional reputation.

What’s the alternative? Instead of reacting to IT failure, look for a proactive approach to IT services. This lets you head off problems before they start.

Proactive vs. Reactive Approach to IT Services

File corrupted? Computer died mid-presentation? Somebody opened a phishing link? Better call IT support!

Reactive support is often called break/fix support. Something in the network broke. Now the IT focus is to fix things, try to recover data, and re-establish security.

Meanwhile, proactive support kicks in earlier. It is a methodical, planned approach where IT support evaluates your needs and network infrastructure, balanced against the challenges your business expects to face. A plan is developed for where it’s most cost-effective to update systems and upgrade equipment. This strategy focuses on keeping your business in step with rapidly evolving technology and increasingly sophisticated data security threats.

There’s nothing wrong with reactive support. In fact, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to proactively head off every possible issue that might strike. These two approaches work together, and both have a valuable role to play in your company’s security and growth.

Proactive support lets you identify, reduce, and control your business’s IT risks. The key concept here is that reactive support is optional. Hopefully, you’ll never need it because you set up solid groundwork ahead of time.

Understanding Risks & Evaluating Your IT Environment

Before you can set up a risk mitigation plan, you need to assess what those risks are and the condition of your infrastructure. The evaluation should touch on:
• Your current IT infrastructure, including the devices in the network and how they perform
• Your disaster recovery plan. Is it comprehensive and still applicable to current and new threats?
• A detailed analysis of your company’s goals, initiatives, and challenges and how these align with your IT setup
• New trends in technology and software that can streamline your company’s productivity and buffer against downtime
• A comprehensive budget and timeline for improving your IT environment to serve your company better, now and in the immediate future

In short, this evaluation will include both an in-depth look at your current IT infrastructure and a strategy for upgrading it.

IT Refresh Strategy

Does this sound like a major and expensive overhaul of your entire computer infrastructure? It doesn’t have to be. Remember, this is a proactive approach. The systems you have in place are still working, at least for now. They likely don’t need to be scrapped.

Instead, many IT risk evaluations focus on incremental, yearly changes. These help your company evolve with changing tech and shifting challenges. Many times, the proactive approach involves refreshing your tech environment. These updates are affordable, predictable expenses that easily fit into the budget. They’re also straightforward to implement, which means less disruption to your day-to-day business functions.

How often do you need to refresh your systems? Your IT department or IT services provider can give you a better answer, but in general:

• Data storage, computer servers, and firewalls should be refreshed every 3-4 years
• Older PCs, which are more vulnerable to breakdowns and security breaches, should be refreshed every 3-5 years
• Switches, which help with data access speeds, security, and other technical functions, should be refreshed every 5-7 years

 Software Updates & Patches

Updating your hardware is only one factor in improving your data security. In fact, some of the most commonly used hacking strategies target the other side of your IT environment: your software. The programs and operating systems your company relies on have certain built-in vulnerabilities. If these weak points aren’t patched up, cybercriminals can exploit them.

This is one of the reasons why it’s not a good idea to keep using software that’s no longer being supported. Yes, it can be costly and inconvenient to switch to a different program and train your employees to use it. However, unsupported software isn’t being patched. Every passing year leaves these programs more vulnerable.

A risk evaluation will determine what software needs to be updated, patched, swapped out, or even removed entirely. The assessment can show you outmoded and redundant applications. Streamlining your IT environment makes it easier to keep your data secure.

If it is better to patch instead of switching software, the evaluation will tell you where to get a legitimate software update. Why? Some hackers have been putting out false patches that contain malware, ransomware, and more. Check that your employees aren’t connecting over untrusted networks or clicking links in fraudulent emails. If you work with an IT services provider, they can handle this job and ensure it’s done safely and correctly.

Your company faces a complex array of IT challenges, from malicious cyberattacks to critical software no longer being supported by the developer. Even if you manage to dodge these problems, there’s the more global issue that technology is continuing to become more sophisticated with every passing year. Are you taking advantage of these developments, or is your business falling behind the tech curve?

Outsourcing your IT needs to an IT services provider can help you proactively reduce your business’s risks and set you up for future success. It takes the pressure off your employees, freeing them to focus on more critical issues. The experienced IT specialists you’ll be working with can show you where it’s cost-effective to upgrade versus streamlining your systems.

Contact ProServ Business Systems today if you’d like to learn more about how proactive IT services can help your St Joseph business manage risk.


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