If you haven’t yet decided on any New Year resolutions for your business, can I suggest three IT related ones? No doubt you have all sorts of business goals for 2016, plans for growth; expansion into new markets, development of new products or services, staffing, marketing and finances.

But what about IT? If your organisation is not a tech business, IT might not feature as a New Year resolution, but it could underpin all those objectives you do have for your business.

From productivity to profitability, most organisations rely heavily on their IT infrastructure and systems, unfortunately it’s often only when things go wrong that business owners find out just by how much.

You can download our e-book on 5 Business Productivity Frustrations Technology Can Address to find out more information.

We are also running two key upcoming workshops for senior business leaders that will help to safeguard continuity of your business systems and tackle productivity failures in your business. Register for free today to secure your place.

1. Business Continuity Plan

My first New Year resolution for 2016 is to ‘Develop A Business Continuity Plan’. IT outages have a huge impact on an organisation, as we saw recently when HSBC’s mobile and online banking service went down on Monday 4 January – the first day back to work after the holidays. Although we don’t know what HSBC’s business continuity plan includes, restoring services for business users was a priority over personal account holders. As of Tuesday afternoon, online business services were running slowly whereas personal account holders were still unable to login.

HSBC reports that the outage impacting on their online and mobile banking services was not a result of a cyber attack, but an internal problem.”This is not a cyber attack or any other malicious act,” said John Hackett, HSBC’s UK chief operating officer.

Of course, there has been a storm of complaints and comments from frustrated customers on Twitter, with many people criticising HSBC’s customer services and threatening to move their account. We can only guess how much this outage is costing the bank in terms of reputation and lost business; while the time and resources invested in resolving the issue can be quantified, other expenses will only emerge later on such as claims for compensation for late payments and disruption to business.

As you can see a business continuity plan is not just an IT issue, it’s a business critical strategy to minimise the impact of IT outages, cyber attacks, power surges or any other disaster. To get started with this New Year resolution you can use our Business Continuity Tools that include a survey to assess your level of risk and a recovery time and cost calculator.

2. Cyber Security: Data Protection Policy

While business continuity plans are vital to help mitigate damage when disaster strikes, reducing the risks of a cyber attack is a trending issue for businesses this year. The BBC recently surveyed lawyers, accountants, digital agencies, research analysts, telecoms and tech firms on what they think will be the key trends in tech in 2016. Cyber security came out top.

As organisations wake up to the importance of keeping data safe, not least because of new European data protection laws and hefty fines; the knowledge that data breaches are increasingly inevitable should focus your attention on this issue. So, this IT resolution for businesses is to ‘create, revise, and implement a robust data protection policy’, identify risks and put preventative measures in place.

While firewall, email filtering, anti-spam, encryption and other cyber security services can be effectively used to prevent hacking and data breaches, human error is one factor that is sometimes overlooked.

Creating a training checklist for staff will reinforce the importance of adhering to the Data Protection Act both on personal and customer level. The list should cover the following main points:-

  • Keeping personal information secure
  • Meeting the reasonable expectations of customers and employees
  • Disclosing customer personal information over the telephone
  • Notifying under the Data Protection Act
  • Handling requests from individuals for their personal information (subject access requests)

3. Address IT Legacy Issues

My final IT New Year resolution is closely aligned with your organisation’s ability to deliver on other business objectives like growth and expansion. IT legacy issues, whether that’s IT infrastructure or IT systems, can prevent a business from being agile; stunting growth and draining resources. While some legacy systems may give businesses a competitive advantage, by supporting unique business processes, in many cases the cost of operating, maintaining and upgrading these systems will often outweigh the benefits.

While investing in new systems may seem like a prohibitive cost; when you consider how it can increase your productivity and profitability over it’s lifetime, it could be money well spent. Modernisation can increase business agility, making your business more efficient and responsive, and save money long term.

If you support implementing any of these IT New Year resolutions within your organisation, contact the Pro Drive IT team for an informal chat, or use our online resources like the Business Continuity Tools to get 2016 off to a more IT aware start.