24 October 2019
Efficiency Measures That Make Business Safer
We can all be at risk from our own hectic agendas. In spite of all the devices and apps at our disposal, we strain to fit everything in – and in the midst of it all, sometimes important actions are missed. Sometimes, we take a calculated risk, where we weigh the importance of seeing a child’s football game against a ‘soft’ work deadline. Other times, when we are pulled into the vortex of overload, the process is less managed, and risk increases without us noticing. That is where some simple efficiency measures can make your business safer.
It is oh-so-easy to get caught up in the rush, without the chance to stop and take stock. This can mean that technology and processes become dis-aligned with the intended business direction. This type of inefficiency causes plenty of frustration, and can cost heavily in terms of staff turnover and customer satisfaction as well as the immediate bottom line.
There is another, less obvious risk that emerges when technology is no longer aligned with your business. People around the business start creating workarounds, or using their own technology. They may purchase a cloud-based application, without realising that it may not meet security levels. Unplanned cloud acquisition makes for inefficient cost management – and it can open up the business to unseen risk.
When we work with a new customer, it is most often because they are not happy with the service or direction of their previous IT provider. At that point, we often work through a formal review process, where we look at things like computers, internet, security and backups, and we also talk with users to get their feedback on what works for them. The report that emerges covers everything from suitability of apps to whether the business is overpaying for an internet service that could be better. Often a review brings to light actions that staff or customers have been struggling with in silence.
Have Someone to Sweat the Small Stuff
Most IT professionals have a few projects on the go, so there is a lot of juggling involved. Inevitably some of the small tasks can fall through the cracks. Whether in-house or an external resource, it is vital to ensure that updates are performed promptly, patches applied, licenses renewed.
Unfortunately, with the opportunistic nature of cyber-criminals, putting it off until next week really isn’t an option – if time and convenience are important, or you have a lot of staff working away from the office, there are some highly efficient service options to choose from that can perform updates remotely without disruption, and even ensure your licenses are always renewed on time.
Processes tend to develop over time and are adjusted to accommodate changes in the business. They can become so complex that they tie the business in knots. Something we saw recently was a typical example of this. We talked to a staff member in a warehouse to examine a problem of missing goods, and to do this, we followed the journey of an order from the moment it is placed until it leaves with the courier. In total, that one transaction was processed in Microsoft Word, Excel, MYOB, then back onto an Excel spreadsheet and onto a database. This all happened manually. When we brought this to the business owner, he was dumbfounded. Nobody had said a word.
In this situation, many staff were frustrated, customers experienced delays, and there was no way of knowing what had happened to missing items. Luckily, there was some very straightforward automation possible in the Office 365 licence the business already paid for. A relatively quick and inexpensive fix saved many staff members hours each week, prevented loss, and prevented a customer exodus.
If complex processes open a business up to risk, so too does lack of process. This is especially the case with the cyber crime we are seeing emerge. Much of it can be thwarted when we turn every colleague into a cyber-crime-fighting superhero – and they don’t even have to leave their desks.
In targeted attacks, criminals learn about who’s who in the organisation, then strike. In several cases we’ve seen recently, they have used this information to send seemingly innocuous emails, asking for an invoice to be paid to a new supplier, or a new bank account for an existing contact. Payment is processed – after all, the request appeared to come from a trusted source. Only later did the organisations involved learn that they had sent tens of thousands of dollars to the wrong recipient.
There are some easy processes to prevent these crimes, using verified phone numbers to call or SMS and confirm. A little staff training equips them to strike back against cyber-criminals and send them away empty-handed.
Business efficiency and security go hand-in-hand, so any review should thoroughly examine this relationship. The good news is, the increased efficiency can help your tighter security to pay for itself.