Which IT maintenance strategy is best for your computer systems and your business?
Computer systems are a significant investment, and an integral component to your business processes. What kind of maintenance is required to keep your information safe and your systems running in optimal condition? Upon reviewing the different maintenance strategies listed below, consider what your business is currently doing. Every organization utilizes one or more of these strategies.
Corrective Maintenance: This is the “default” strategy for Information System maintenance. Many business leaders will wait until they have a problem with a computer system before they will take any action to correct the issue. Corrective maintenance is only performed after a system or component has failed. This behavior is most common, and whether intentional or not, it is a strategy. Just as, when you choose to do nothing, you still have made a choice. This strategy is used in an effort to achieve economical efficiency – in theory, spending is only required when corrective action is required (but, this is not necessarily true in every case). While this method may fit for some systems or components, it is not recommended as an overall strategy for your critical business systems.
Predictive Maintenance: When we are given signs that something might fail soon, we replace the item. In this case, we have performed predictive maintenance. For example, if a hard drive in a 4-year-old PC begins to make an odd noise or speeds up and slows down while running, we replace the drive before it has a chance to fail.
Preventative Maintenance: Updating or replacing a system, component or application before any signs of failure appear. Information systems are routinely evaluated and updated for security, productivity and effectiveness to your business plan. Preventative maintenance is most commonly performed on software and data applications, but is also done for hardware. Let’s say the PC in the above hard drive failure example has a practical life of 3 years. So, we replace the PC as it becomes 3 years old, even before it shows any signs of component failure, also mitigating downtime and preventing productivity loss due to aging hardware. A much more common example is when we update your security software with the latest releases from the developer in an effort to prevent a harmful attack on your system. Some preventative maintenance is required under Massachusetts information protection laws.
Scheduled Maintenance: Scheduled maintenance is simply planned preventative maintenance.
Operational Maintenance: Operational Maintenance involves tasks that can be performed by the users of the computer systems. This helps keep the system running properly in between scheduled or preventative maintenance. An example of this might be when a Microsoft Outlook user routinely runs the archive function of this e-mail application. It doesn’t require any special skills to do this, and it helps to conserve file space and improve the application’s performance.
Choosing Your Strategy
Many businesses are operating mostly in the Corrective Maintenance mode, simply because this is the default strategy and requires no effort to plan. The business leaders utilizing this strategy are usually relying on their past history of not experiencing many problems, or perhaps not evaluating the cost of the problems they have encountered. The upside to adopting this strategy is that, in most cases, it requires little maintenance spending in the short term. However, the downside to this strategy is the fact that all hardware will fail at some point, and systems will lag behind productivity requirements, develop security risks or become compromised by malware. This strategy does not enable the business to effectively plan for the associated costs, productivity and potential opportunity losses.
A good maintenance plan will usually involve each of the above strategies. Carefully choosing the correct combination of strategic maintenance fitted to the various systems in use will provide your business with the most optimal performance and cost effectiveness. Your maintenance strategy should compliment your business plan and open up opportunities to gain productivity, increase profits and enhance your competitive advantage in the marketplace. If you have any questions about your strategic maintenance, consult an IT expert when developing your plan.