When something needs fixing around the home, like a broken shelf or a leaky tap, it’s always tempting to do it yourself. And that’s often your best bet: it avoids the cost and hassle of getting someone out, and it’s a chance to brush up your DIY skills.
But what if a similar problem needed fixing in your office? Would you do it yourself, or hire a pro? And what if that problem wasn’t minor, but something that – if you got it wrong – could seriously damage your business, by slowing you down, losing important information, or maybe even opening you up to some kind of cyber attack?
That’s why a DIY approach to business IT is usually a bad idea: the stakes are too high and – just as importantly – the technology is too complex to handle if you’re not sure what you’re doing. And even if you know your way around a computer, it’s easy to be over-confident and end up making things worse.
Of course, we’re a bit biased when it comes to the question of when to call in an IT expert. But that bias is based, above all, on our first-hand experience of the things that can (and regularly do) go wrong when non-IT experts try to fix IT problems. Here are some of the hidden costs that often make DIY IT a false economy:
In business, time is money. And even fairly simple IT problems can take longer than you think to fix. Diagnosing the problem, running a troubleshooter, hunting around for solutions online… And if you still can’t fix it, you’ll then have to wait to get someone out. So if you want to get your tech up and running as quickly as possible, there’s no substitute for going straight to an IT expert.
When it comes to being productive, staying focused is just as important as saving time. The more complex an IT problem is, the greater the distraction it is from the tasks you need to focus on. And in the workplace, the distraction is that much greater: what starts out as a distraction for one employee can sweep through an entire office, if they start asking around for tips and advice. By getting an IT expert to focus on your IT problems, your staff can focus better on their own work.
Making problems worse
We see it all the time. Someone has a stab at fixing a minor IT niggle, without really knowing what they’re doing. They fiddle around with their settings, maybe run an update or unplug a cable. And before they know it, that minor niggle has turned into a major problem – something that stops them, or even their colleagues, from doing their work. In which case, you’ll have to call in a pro, and the problem will take more time and money to fix than if you’d gone to them in the first place.
Creating hidden issues
You’d be surprised how many people take a trial-and-error approach to IT problems – randomly turning stuff on or off again, until an issue goes away. But as well as being slow and inefficient, this is seriously risky. Because while you might stumble across the right solution, unless you put everything else back the right way, it’s easy to create new problems that you’re not even aware of – and which later come back to bite you.
Leaving yourself open to attack
You know the expression, ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing’? That’s definitely true of IT security: a few basics don’t qualify you to fix serious problems, any more than a few biology basics qualify you as a doctor. If you started having chest pains, you wouldn’t opt for DIY surgery, so why perform operations on something as critical – and complex – as your IT security? When staff try (and routinely fail) to fix cybersecurity issues, they can create vulnerabilities that leave your whole network open to attack. And the cost of a data breach would massively outweigh that of hiring an IT expert.
Damaging staff morale
If you’re not an IT expert, fixing computer problems can be seriously stressful. So what’s the message you’re sending to your team, if – instead of hiring someone to help them – you ask them to handle these issues themselves? It might seem like you care more about saving money, than about protecting them from all this hassle. And aside from how it looks, having everyone fix their own IT problems would make your company a more stressful, less pleasant place to work. That makes it harder for you to hire and retain staff – which in turn creates extra costs.
Creating an inefficient IT culture
When people are used to having to solve computer problems themselves, they also get used to ignoring them. As long as an issue doesn’t interfere too much with their work, a lot of employees will turn a blind eye to it, to save themselves the time and trouble of fixing it. That’s why a DIY IT culture can slow down your business, without you even realising: your employees can get used to using inefficient, error-prone tools that they don’t have the time or energy to fix.
For all these reasons, we’ve found that a do-it-yourself approach to business IT is a definite don’t. Because what seems like a saving usually ends up being much more expensive. The answer is to call in an expert IT support; there are some great, cost-effective options out there, to suit every need and budget.
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