5 Signs That It May Be Time to Reassess Your Network Admin Position
It’s no secret that the network admin for your company wields a ton of power over your business’ information technology. They can be the difference between a company that underperforms or a company that really sings. Heck, to a large extent they can determine whether you sink or swim. That’s a lot of control for any one person!
Since technology is not the forte of most companies, how is a business owner even supposed to know if their network admin is doing a good job of advancing the company’s cause? Since the mantra of most entrepreneurs is “I do what I do best and I delegate the rest”, the tendency is to not spend a lot of time thinking about it unless the wheels have come off and by there, it’s too late.
So what is a business owner to do? Start by looking for the following signs that will give you a “defensive early warning system” capable of sniffing out problems before they occur.
1. Is your network gear becoming antiquated?
If you put 10 people in a room and you ask them what an appropriate IT refresh schedule is, you will likely get 10 different answers. But as a general rule of thumb, every 3 to 4 years is about right. Technology ages in dog years, and using gear until it physically dies is a false economy. Yes, computers are expensive, but they run your business and without them, you’re dead. Did you know that a new computer is roughly 50% faster than one purchased three years ago? The increase in productivity alone is worth the investment. And that’s before you even consider the improvement in employee morale and the productivity gain you get from that. At the end of the day, it is always management or ownership that decides when the refreshes occur, but if your network admin is hounding you to death on this, it may be time to consider moving on.
2. Is your network running slowly?
It’s easy to blame your old PC (see point #1) or to curse out the Internet Service Provider (ISP) but your disdain may well be focused on the wrong thing entirely. It may be that it has nothing to do with your ISP at all – it may have everything to do with your network admin. Without the proper use of management tools and traffic monitoring software, your network could be full of all sorts of pinch points and bottlenecks. Your business needs to perform and your network needs to perform right alongside of it. If you are dealing with a slow network that the network admin has not been able to alleviate (or they want to blame it on everything from sunspots to bad karma), it’s probably time to reconsider how you are managing this uber-important resource.
3. Have you been hacked?
Hackers will break into a business for as many different reasons as there are hackers but most commonly, they want to steal personal info, banking information, credit card numbers and intellectual property. And while the big companies get all the negative press when they get breached, don’t for a moment think that your little ol’ mom & pop business isn’t on the radar. Many small businesses believe they are too small to be a target; small businesses are generally way easier to break into than large ones for the simple reason that small businesses don’t think they are a target! You think hackers don’t know that? Fatal mistake. We’ve seen what happens if your network admin is lax on his or her approach on security. If your network admin is not setting policy on things like strong passwords, limited remote access and commercial-grade firewall and router technology, you may need a new network admin.
4. Is your network being patched regularly?
Along with regular core application upgrades and patches comes the requirement of operating system patches and upgrades. In most cases, if you are going to get got by a virus, chances are, it happens because of an insecure operating system – enter Windows Update. Even in the best case, bugs that cause poor performance or crashing are often addressed with patches and updates. If your network admin is behind on this most important of processes, it is an absolutely clear sign that you need to be thinking about a different captain at the IT helm.
5. Does your network admin have more than one job?
in many small businesses, the de facto network admin is the last person who demonstrated some IT savvy. But if your network admin is also your executive assistant, a factory floor worker or a furniture design engineer, the chances are very high that they are doing neither job well. You can’t be a lawyer AND a network admin. You can’t be the company accountant AND a network admin. One of those jobs will suffer – make no mistake. The skills and qualifications that make a good network admin are simply too deep for anyone to just “pick it up as they go along”. Are you guilty of putting the last guy who fixed Windows with a reboot in charge of network admin duties? Time to rethink your IT processes.
If you struggle with any of these issues, a possible solution may be to consider outsourcing some or all of your IT support. Firstly, most small businesses can neither afford nor justify a full-time network admin. And secondly, a dedicated network admin simply does not have the breadth of experience that an entire team can bring to the table. And finally, it can be done for a fraction of the cost.
Looking for a better way to deal with IT? Contact us today for a free, no obligation network assessment.