Common sense is not so common these days. Keeping your technology right-side-up is easier, if you apply a few simple principles.
1. Shortcuts don’t work. My kids cringe every time we are on a family road trip, and I say that I am taking a shortcut. I always get us there, but rarely is the shortcut really a shortcut. This rule is even more true with technology and in fact, technology shortcuts create a downward spiral. Cutting the technology corner will result in security problems, more time spent putting out fires, an unproductive environment, or all of the above.
2. Spend it now. Putting off upgrades is a gamble and almost always costs you. If you wait to upgrade and you have a failure that creates a work stopping event, it is expensive. If you wait to do that upgrade and it slows your team down by just 10 minutes a day, the losses are dramatic. At $25/hour we are talking about at least $1000/year/person.
3. Best practices are best. Best practices seem to be the favorite terminology of the day, and for good reason. Following them is essential, even when they seem a little ridiculous. Yes, those password rules will save you in the long run. Yes, encrypting your data is important. Yes, you will need that backup, probably sooner than you think.
4. Complexity is evil. The “keep it simple” rule applies to technology. The most elegant solutions are the simplest ones. Simple does not break easily, and if it does it is repaired quickly. Simple always produces the best long-term results. Sometimes seeing the simple solution is the hardest part of this rule and may require some perspective that lies outside the people intimately involved in the problem or process.
5. Follow your gut, or someone else’s. Following your gut is good, but difficult, particularly if technology is not your thing. If you don’t have radar for technology soundness, use your radar for the people who are advising you. Are they looking out for your best interest? Do they ever steer you clear of spending money when it isn’t necessary?