Good staff can make or break a business – here’s how to make sure that your IT systems aren’t affected when they retire or leave.
Your staff are a trusted asset. But those leaving or retiring present significant risks to business continuity to those who are unprepared.
1. ‘Silo’ knowledge
At any point where a single person is in charge of software or data, your business faces problems.
- If the person leaves, so too does their knowledge.
- If there are no records of business IT systems and configurations, resolving future issues becomes costly, difficult and potentially impossible.
- IT project management becomes impossible, as it falls apart when that member of staff leaves.
It is essential that critical business IT systems information is spread between team members or outsourced to an external partner who can maintain the relationship beyond the employment of specific staff.
‘Knowledge silos simply won’t drive innovation in a much more interconnected world. Indeed, they will inhibit it.’ The New Shape of Innovation – Council on Competitiveness.
2. Legacy data systems
Many businesses operate on bespoke systems that have been developed and extended over the years by incumbent staff. Although genuinely useful, these business IT systems present significant risks:
- Who will maintain and support the system when the original developer leaves the business?
- Who can support the system when that team member is absent?
- What happens if the underlying technology is no longer supported by the original vendor?
- Accommodating legacy systems makes IT project management difficult.
- Maintaining legacy systems increases costs.
Again, legacy business IT systems that rely on a handful of aging staff place company data at risk.
‘Over half of legacy system respondents are increasing their overall IT budgets versus 60% of state-of-the-art system respondents who intend to maintain or decrease their IT operations spend. Based on the results, as client and market demands intensify, state-of-the-art investment management systems reveal a lower cost of operations versus retaining a legacy system.’ The Risks of Legacy Systems – Wall Street Journal
3. No fail-safes
Where access rights or permissions are restricted to a handful of users, there always remains the possibility of abuse. Without suitable fail-safe mechanisms in place departing staff could easily:
- Delete data stored in business IT systems.
- Deface websites.
- Compromise infrastructure to hobble future IT projects.
- Share privileged account information opening the system to abuse by virtually anyone.
Regularly reviewing staff access, permissions and rights will help limit such abuses and ensure that someone else is always able to reverse any changes made.
‘49% of businesses share privileged passwords.’ Cyber-Ark Privileged Account Security & Compliance Survey Report 2013
4. Poor cover
Having a member of staff to perform a particular job function is usually adequate. But in the event of sickness or annual leave, your business needs to be able to function normally in their absence. It is no longer acceptable to customers to hear excuses for delays or failures simply because a member of staff is away.
Instead, businesses need to ensure they have adequate cover for critical business processes by:
- Hiring additional staff.
- Securing the services of temps or casual staff for cover.
- Investigating the use of outsourcing to guarantee cover and support at all times.
Virtually any task can now be outsourced, including IT management, ensuring your business operates normally, regardless of who is or is not at their desk.
- Leaving one person in charge of critical business IT systems also means that a single point of failure could bring your organisation down.
- Outsourcing provides opportunities to plug gaps in staff or knowledge permanently.
- Relying on a combination of legacy data systems and aging staff to support them could bring your business to a premature end.