If you’re a firm with just one in-house IT person, here’s a scary question. What would happen if your internal IT person suddenly walked out the door, never to return? Would business continue as usual? Perhaps, but for how long?
The Value of Your IT Staff
Losing your IT person suddenly is much more than an inconvenience. Consider how much proprietary information that one person possesses. What tasks does that person perform that no one else knows how to do or has access to? Many small businesses are taking on significant risk by giving too much power solely to the IT person. It’s important that no one person in the organization has the keys to the kingdom, so to speak.
It’s Not Just Hypothetical
We’ll get to what to do about this problem, but first, let us stress that this isn’t some kind of hypothetical scenario. Businesses do get into trouble when the one person with all the information quits, gets disgruntled or even dies. A Canadian cryptocurrency firm made the news earlier this year for essentially losing $190 million in customer funds. The reason? The CEO was the only person alive with the password to an encrypted laptop. That laptop was the only way to access “cold storage” digital lockers worth nearly $200 million. He died suddenly, and the money may never be recovered.
Your IT staffer’s departure won’t be that dramatic, but it could still be disruptive. Here are x ways to lower that risk.
1. Keep Network Documentation Up to Date and Accessible
You need to be able to locate documentation on your software licenses, service agreements, equipment warranties, and the like. Require your IT person to keep this documentation somewhere management knows about and can access. The documentation also must be kept up to date.
You also need access to administrator passwords, even if you don’t want to operate as an administrator all the time. Be careful with these, as the passwords themselves are valuable and need to be secured. In other words, don’t write them on a sticky note in your drawer, but do know how you can access them should you need them.
2. Understand How Your Backups Work and How to Access Them
Murphy’s Law (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murphy%27s_law) dictates that the day after your IT person quits is the day one of your computers will die. That’s not the time that you want to realize that no one else knows how to access your company’s backups. Make sure someone else on the team understands how backups work, as well as how to access and test them.
On a positive note, this concern is mitigated if you’re working with a service provider to manage your backups (and we think you should). If so, your in-house personnel isn’t the only one with access.
3. Know How to Lock Out Employees
Look, no one likes to think about it, but a disgruntled IT person can do a lot of damage on the way out. Someone on the leadership team needs to learn how to assign and revoke permissions. In the event you have a disgruntled IT employee, you’ll want to be able to quickly revoke administrator rights, access to the network, cloud storage, apps, and the website backend, just to name a few.
4. Have and Understand a Disaster Recovery Plan
If your company has a disaster recovery plan in place, chances are the IT person bears most of the load on this crucial plan. You need to understand this plan, too, at least at a high level. This is another area where in-house IT people sometimes could use additional help from a managed service provider (MSP). Another perk to trusting your disaster recovery plan to an MSP is that you’re no longer stranded if your IT person becomes incapacitated.
5. Document Basic Equipment Maintenance and Supply Orders
Failure to take care of basic maintenance and to order supplies like ink and paper can bring your business to its knees. Document what needs to be done here and how often.
These are just a handful of the areas you need to manage in the event that your in-house IT person quits or becomes unavailable. Perhaps the safest solution is one that’s more comprehensive. Partner with a qualified MSP that can share in the responsibility of managing these crucial areas. That way even if your IT person walks out with no warning, you have a team of experts sharing the load and helping you through all the above points. Contact CIO Advise, a CIO Consulting (https://www.cioadvise.com/) firm based in Florida to learn more about what a quality business IT professional can do for your small business.