5 Clear Signs your IT Infrastructure is Ready for an Upgrade

Implementing the right technology solutions at your organization can greatly improve efficiency, productivity, accessibility, and profitability. This might include hardware upgrades, new security tools like a password manager, or software solutions to improve HR, payroll, or marketing activities. It might also include network monitoring and support services to provide you with around-the-clock peace of mind and better protection and recovery from interruptions. 

However, adopting new technologies simply for the sake of change can also have unintended negative consequences, including resistance or confusion among employees and clients. Poor implementation can also expose your organization to greater risk of attack or intrusion from a cybercriminal. At the same time, sticking to outdated IT systems can also bring about these same negative outcomes. So, what is your organization to do?

A frequent question we get at N8 Solutions is about how to identify the right time – and reason – to upgrade your firm’s IT systems. In this post, we share five common signs that your organization is ready for an upgrade. Are you ready for a reboot? Please read on and let us know if any of these scenarios ring true at your organization.

Five Signs your IT Needs an Upgrade

 1) My technology is slooow.

Speed is a tell-tale sign that your technology is in need of an upgrade. Does your computer take too long to power up? Does your software crash frequently? Are programs slow to install? Is your internet connection slow or spotty? Do web pages load slowly or not at all? These are all clear signs that your tech may need a boost to get things up to speed.

Many small or start-up firms implement new technologies piecemeal, as the business grows. While this may be a necessary approach given your budget and resources, it can also cause issues as old software can present problems when communicating with newer tools and platforms. This can also contribute to frustrating slow speeds and inefficiencies. 

While each scenario is unique, a good rule of thumb to follow is that the average lifespan of most hardware and software ranges from two to five years. When did you install or implement your current technologies? If your answer is beyond two years, you may be in need of an upgrade to some of your older systems. 

2) Our software is no longer supported.

If a vendor no longer supports the software you use, it's clearly time for an upgrade. Not only will your software be slow, but outdated software also introduces increased security concerns. For example, Windows 7 support is ending this year, and those who don't move to Windows 10 will put their firms at risk since security updates will no longer be provided for Windows 7. Updated software often offers greater security over known deficiencies in older, previous versions. For example, one firm reviewed the volume of malware infections on Windows 10 versus Windows 7 machines and found Windows 10 to be "twice as secure" as Windows 7.

If that’s not enough of a reason, consider these four other reasons to update your software: 

  • Better collaboration: The latest software is intended to enable new levels of team collaboration, both on-site and remotely.

  • Time savings: New software will alleviate or reduce the need to spend time manually installing patches and updates. 

  • Greater security: As mentioned above, outdated software can increase your firm’s risk for data loss or intrusion. 

  • Improved access: Updated software is designed to run on uniform operating systems for seamless access to the same information.

3) My team would benefit from greater mobility. 

Another indication that your organization is ready for an upgrade is how limited or tethered your team is to your IT infrastructure. The modern workstation is everywhere. It’s no longer limited to a single location, whether that’s because of physical files or outdated technology. Rather than limit your office, your IT should empower your staff with greater access from more locations. 

For example, your team should be able to work remotely via mobile devices, laptops, and cloud applications. Cloud computing now makes it easy for staff to securely access files and other important information when they're out of the office – meaning they can be productive even when off site or traveling. This is especially true for firms in a state of growth or that rely on remote or contract employees. Now is the absolute right time to consider technology upgrades for mobility reasons; one statistic suggests that nearly four million Americans (nearly three percent of the workforce) now work from home at least half the time, and half of the workforce could follow suit soon. 

Not sure if the cloud is right for you? Please see this previous post that explains the key differences between traditional versus cloud-based solutions to help you understand the options and best tools for your organization. 

4) My users are frustrated.

Another symptom of outdated IT infrastructure presents in a somewhat surprising place: your people. Is your staff continually frustrated by slow speeds or inefficient processes? User frustration is a clear and compelling indication that your infrastructure isn't providing the proper support, be it internally or externally.

It might be beneficial to conduct a survey at your organization to gauge and justify the need to invest in an upgrade. Proactively seek out employee feedback and incorporate this into your IT infrastructure decisions. For example, a law firm may find that lawyers spend a lot of time drafting similar documents and thus it could be incredibly powerful to implement the right document automation solution. 

If you do implement new tools or systems, do it the right way. This includes clear and effective training and a sensible roll-out strategy. Please see this earlier post on employee cybersecurity training tips, including:

  • When it comes to protecting your operations, cybersecurity is everyone's responsibility. Include every employee at all levels of your organization in your training, from entry-level hires to your C-Suite and leadership team. 

  • Train early and often. Consider holding regular IT training sessions to keep employees informed and educated on the latest security threats and technology best practices. 

  • Make training holistic and impactful. In addition to offering concrete tactics, help your employees recognize how the upgrade can aid them in their specific roles and responsibilities. 

  • Make the training fun and enjoyable. Don’t treat the training as a punishment, even if you’re doing it as a result of a recent attack or system malfunction. 

5) My data isn't backed up.

If your data is not backed up, stop right here and reach out to us! While we’re joking and admittedly being a bit alarmist, there is reason to prioritize an upgrade when it comes to your security and protection from cyber threats. Remember, in today's world, it's not a matter of "if" you'll suffer a cyberattack, but more likely "when." No single industry is immune to IT security threats. Major corporations and small firms alike face real and growing threats from attackers. In fact, 43 percent of attacks are aimed at small businesses

Businesses need to be ready for the inevitable by making sure their data is secure and backed up. Upgrading your IT infrastructure should include best-in-class security solutions to tackle the latest threats against your operations and information, from both known and unknown sources. If your organization is susceptible to major security threats or other risks, now is the time to invest in a robust, but affordable security upgrade.

We hope you take a moment to consider these five scenarios – speed, support, mobility, user satisfaction, and security. Are any true at your organization? If so, we’re here to help! The first step is easy; please get in touch with our friendly experts for a free consultation and assessment. It’s as simple as completing this form. We’ll help you identify when – and how – to upgrade your IT infrastructure so your organization can grow in a smart, safe, and effective way this year and beyond. 

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