Every business these days needs IT infrastructure and staff that are firing on all cylinders, which means running 24/7 glitch-free. Missing chances to interact with customers or business partners can damage a reputation or derail projects, while unexpected system downtime can be catastrophically costly to your bottom line. So how do you manage this demanding ‘always on’ IT environment and minimise risk in a way that also works for your IT staff?
1. Make the most of outsourcing services
Minimise the risk of expensive system outages by outsourcing IT backup, monitoring and redundancy requirements to relieve some of the pressure on your employees.
Third-party cloud services, in particular, take advantage of international support staff. Regardless of your current time and location, someone, somewhere is on duty, monitoring and backing up your files.
2. Create offline backups
Creating offline backups means your essential business data will always be available when you need it, regardless of the day or the hour.
If a major system is compromised – by a natural disaster or cybercrime – your offline files won’t be affected and critical systems can be quickly reinstated with minimal impact on your customer or damage to the business.
3. Roster around the clock
Develop a round-the-clock roster that covers all business requirements and contingencies. This might include additional IT staff who are immediately available in the event of emergencies, or who can participate in late-night calls with company offices or third parties in other parts of the world.
You never know when you might need all hands on deck, so prepare for different scenarios and don’t just focus on the times when you think the business might need additional coverage. Ensure that there are always people available to cover the roster if someone is sick or on leave, and make sure on-call staff know they are expected to work out of hours if required.
4. Make the most of technology
Mobile technology means that many maintenance, troubleshooting and diagnostic tasks can be performed by a shift engineer from outside the office – or that someone can brief them fully so they are ready to go from the moment they arrive.
Being able to make and receive calls or access project documents in the cloud also enables IT staff to recognise and solve problems before they escalate, as well as speak to colleagues in different time zones from the comfort of their homes.
5. Establish some respect
IT staff will be far more willing to make themselves available out of hours if they know there are also times when they can ask for radio silence – and receive it.
Establish regular off-call times – when staff are on holiday or after 6pm on a Sunday night, for example – and stick to them. Employees who have the opportunity to de-stress are more likely to be switched on and productive during the long hours they are at work.
The ‘always on’ IT requirement can be demanding for any business. Most businesses now operate with round-the-clock IT needs and some simple steps can safeguard all types of IT infrastructure and keep it ticking away – without the need to lean too heavily on team members 24/7.