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Prepared for the worst

The top half dozen pitfalls for internal IT teams – and how to avoid them

To handle the relentless flow of daily tasks, an internal IT team needs to run like a well-oiled machine. From managing security and ticket flow to conducting routine maintenance and proactive monitoring, they require expert efficiency to stay at the top of their game.

But, all too often, common pitfalls complicate to-do lists, creating extra work for the team. Recognising these time-traps is the first step to avoiding them – the second is developing a fool-proof plan to prevent them in the future. Here, Brett Cheloff, VP of ConnectWise Automate, looks at the top pitfalls of IT teams and how to avoid them.

Pitfall 1 The perils of patching
For years, Patch Tuesday helped IT teams keep track of Microsoft software updates. With Windows 10, system fixes are no longer released on such a predictable schedule, but that doesn’t mean patching stops being a top priority. Managing patching is essential to safeguarding software and machines against external threats.

Consider this: when a new patch is released, hackers immediately swoop in to compare the update to the pre-existing operating system. This helps them identify where the security loophole is so that they can exploit end users and corporations that are slow to patch the breach. Last year, attackers exploited patch updates to steal valuable personal data on users and payment information. While these instances only accounted for 6% of the year’s total breaches, the negative consequences for those affected are profound.

The best way to avoid this pitfall is to standardise team policy for automatic Windows 10 patching. Set up alerts to update IT professionals as soon as a patch is released and enable broad discovery capabilities that cover the entire inventory of a company’s production systems. Remember: it only takes one vulnerable computer to put an entire network at risk.

Pitfall 2 Incorrect ticket routing
Internal IT teams may have to process large numbers of help desk tickets every day, and to maintain a high level of customer service, the pressure is on to correctly route each one to an expert technician. Manual routing presents endless opportunities for mistakes. Moreover, if a team isn’t routing tickets based on accurate data, delays will be created that can throw off the entire routing process. To avoid the complications that come with ticket routing, consider ditching manual in favour of an automatic ticket routing program.

Pitfall 3 Manual processes
Try as one might, human error is impossible to avoid. In a complex IT environment, manual processes have the potential for errors that can put an entire workflow – and a company’s security – at risk.

What if a real emergency hits and the internal IT team needs to respond quickly? In this instance, small, day-to-day IT tasks should be set aside in order to deal with the bigger problem. But if these tasks still follow a manual process, forgetting them is out of the question.

The best way to avoid this scenario is to nix manual processes in favour of automation, wherever possible. Where manual is still essential, make sure the process is formalised and teams are fully trained to follow protocol.

Pitfall 4 Asset chaos
It’s up to business leaders to keep their team’s projects on track, but when information is owned by multiple managers and dispersed across countless spreadsheets and documents, project management can be nigh impossible. The more complex the project, the larger the inventory of assets.

To avoid asset chaos, a solution needs to be found that allows key documents, data and configurations to be readily available to the team members that need them most. This will cut down on time spent pinging John for that report or chasing down Sarah for that serial number.

There are a number of solutions that allow for easy asset inventories. Many companies choose free options, like Google Drive, to cut down on costs. In doing so, they often lose out on optimal information security. More advanced solutions are designed to guard and intuitively aggregate assets so that everything is kept organised as well as safe.

Pitfall 5 Repetitive admin tasks
There are some things in life one can’t avoid, like admin. Day-to-day to-do items, like tracking time, aren’t just tedious; they take valuable time away from other, more vital tasks.

In lieu of hiring a full-time administrative assistant, organisations should try using a programme that can complete admin tasks consistently. This way, they can focus on bigger, more important projects while the tedious – but necessary – tasks get done automatically.

Pitfall 6 Being Reactive
IT professionals spend a lot of time putting out fires. System bugs, holes in security, whatever the issue, once you fall into the habit of taking a reactive approach to problems, your efficiency is already impaired.

A proactive approach that allows faults to be identified and fixed before they cause problems is far better. The right software can make this process much easier.

When choosing a solution, consider the following key components of proactive IT problem-solving: first, the ability to monitor and remotely control sessions, which will give valuable insight into a team’s workflow and efficiency; and, second, a program that facilitates system response monitoring, which will help improve overall response times, so that you spend less time putting out fires.

With the right products and processes, internal IT teams will gain a firmer grip on proactive operations and be better prepared to tackle reactive situations.

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