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46 Common IT Problems

Information technology problems are persistent technology issues that cause risks and costs. By contrast, an incident is a single event that causes business disruption. Where incidents are usually resolved in minutes or hours, problems can last years or decades. The following are common types of IT problems.

Architectural Complexity

A large number of systems or an architectural landscape that is too complex for the business functions it addresses. Complexity tends to result in cost and a higher rate of incidents.

Audit Trail

A lack of logs and information to aid audits and investigations.

Authentication And Authorization

Weakness in basic security controls thatauthenticateusers and authorize information access and transactions.


A technology service with too much downtime. In many cases, any system that is available less thanfour ninesis a problem.

Backup And Restore

Data that isn’t sufficiently backed up or that lacks established restore procedures.


Technology that easily breaks such as upgrades that always seem to fail.

Business Technology Alignment

Technology that the business doesn’t need or that fails to support business functions.


Capacity limitations such as data storage or bandwidth.

Change Control

Changes that are made to code, configurations or infrastructure outside of a properly controlled process. For example, ad hoc maintenance without approvals or notifications.


Technology functions and conditions that fail to comply with laws and regulations.

Configuration Management

Configuration managementis the practice of controlling and recording the configuration of hardware and software including code changes. It is used to analyze the impact of change and troubleshoot incidents. Operating a technology platform without configuration management tends to be a problem. For example, it can be difficult to determine which update caused a new issue.

Data Integration

Data that is needed by multiple processes and systems that isn’t properlyintegrated.

Data Proliferation

Data that is maintained in multiple systems and documents, typically resulting in inconsistencies.

Data Quality

Data that is missing, wrong, poorly formatted or difficult to access to support business processes.


Software and hardware bugs can be considered problems if they are a persistent issue.

Design Debt

A design debt is a poor software design that causes future costs. In many cases, projects are rushed and design shortcuts are taken. Such savings in short term costs tend to result in future maintenance, incidents and additional costs to projects that rely on the design.

Disaster Recovery

A technology platform that is vulnerable to disasters. For example, a platform that runs from a single physical location or that relies on a single resource such as a particular telecom provider.

Enterprise Architecture

An IT organization that lacks a consistent structure such as shared services, platforms, standards, practices and designs.

Fault Tolerance

Services that easily crash when they encounter an error.

Information Security Vulnerabilites

Vulnerabilities that allow threats to compromise information security.


Components and platforms that don’t work together seamlessly.

Knowledge Management

Missing knowledge related to your IT platform. In some cases, organizations have systems with millions of lines of code that have no design documentation or maintenance procedures.

Legacy Technology

Technology that has aged to the point that it is expensive to support, difficult to extend and at risk of failing.


Components of information technology that are expensive and highriskto maintain.

Mean Time To Repair

A common measure of the average time to fix an incident when it occurs. A highmean time to repair (MTTR)is indicative of problems such as missing knowledge, skill gaps and poor designs.

Operations Processes

A lack of mature IT operations processes for support, maintenance and improvement.


Applications or services that have no identifiable owner in your organization.


Services that are generally slow or that fail when business volumes peak.


Insufficient privacy controls that represent compliance, liability andreputation risks.

Process Integration

Problems related toprocess integrationsuch asevent processinglimitations and failures.


A tool or component that doesn’t perform consistently such as errors that appear to be erratic.

Retention Policy

Unclear or insufficient procedures and policies for data retention.


Services and systems that fail to support increased business volume in anefficient way.

Service Desk

A single point of contact for support of information technology. Service desk problems range from a complete lack of support to the need to further optimize support performance.

Service Management

Service managementis a broad term for the comprehensive set of processes that deliver information technology to business. Problems in this area include financial, design, implementation, deployment and operations management issues.

Software Bloat

Software that is far too complex for its function.

Software Entropy

The tendency for software to age quickly due to its overall complexity and the laws of thermodynamics. In other words, software becomes less reliable with time.

Software Quality

tware that fails to function or behave as documented in specifications such asbusiness requirements.

Structural Integrity

A poorly designed technology stack that is difficult to maintain, improve and extend.

Subject Matter Experts

A lack of highly skilled experts in areas such as architecture, security, infrastructure, design and programming.

Technology Silos

The tendency for organizational units such as departments and teams to create their own technology platforms and data repositories. Can result in an extremely complex, duplicative and expensive architecture that is poorly understood, brittle and vulnerable.


An inability to regression test changes due to poor documentation of existing functionality.

Transactional Integrity

Transactional integrity refers to theatomicity of business functions. For example, a financial transaction such as a stock trade should either succeed or fail with nothing inbetween. Transactions thatpartially succeedresult in data issues that have negative business impacts such as a stock trade that purchases shares but fails to debit the client’s account for the cost.


Interfaces that are difficult to use resulting in low employee engagement, productivity issues andhuman error.

Vendor Lock In

A dependency on a vendor specific tool or service that would be expensive and high risk to change. In such cases, vendors may hold strong negotiating power and be unresponsive to your business needs or may escalate fees.


Workflowproblems such as the inability to reassign tasks when an employee is on vacation.

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The 11 biggest issues IT faces today

Each year we talk with tech leaders about the biggest problems they’ll face in the near future, and we’re starting to see some subtle and not-so-subtle shifts from the worries of 2018.

Data overload, a major concern 12 months ago, has evolved as new data-hungry tools and AI help make sense of data and drive business decisions. This year CIOs say they’re more concerned with how to protect that data, as organizations grapple with new privacy regulations.

As the economy continues to improve, CIOs are less hampered in 2019 by tightening budgets. And worries about moving to the cloud are less of an issue, since many companies have already made the jump. Executives put more emphasis now on securing their cloud-based assets across multiple cloud environments.  

Read on to see what experts from the C-suite, recruiters, and those in the trenches say are today’s top-of-mind concerns — and how to deal with them.

1. New security threats

Headline-grabbing recent events may spark surprising new security threats, says Rick Grinnell, founder and managing partner of Glasswing Ventures.

“The government shutdown helped contribute to a great cyber threat to the U.S. government, critical infrastructure and other public and private organizations,” Grinnell says. “With the shutdown, many of the security professionals watching for threats at a national level were not on duty, creating a bigger hole for attackers. Time will tell if a month of lowered defenses will have deeper repercussions in 2019 and beyond.”

Tech leaders are also gearing-up for next-generation, AI-driven cyber attacks.

“Security professionals must be extra vigilant with detection and training against these threats,” says John Samuel, CIO at CGS. “This year, companies will need to introduce AI-based protection systems to be able to contain any such attacks introduced by this next-gen tech.”

Grinnell says AI wasn’t a factor in the most notable attacks of the last year, but he expects that to change.

“I believe 2019 will bring the first of many AI-driven attacks on U.S. companies, critical infrastructure and government agencies,” he says. “Let’s hope I’m wrong.”

2. Data protection

Forward-thinking organizations are now implementing privacy by design in their products, but making sure those efforts meet GDPR standards is an ongoing concern. Google, for example, just saw a record fine by French regulators over how the company collects data.

“U.S. businesses will need to consider a GDPR-type policy to protect citizens even before any regulations are enacted,” Samuel says. “Ultimately, there must be international guidelines to ensure customer privacy and protection on a global scale to allow for easier compliance.”

Jacob Ansari, senior manager of Schellman and Co., says IoT security got a lot of attention last year, but it led to little practical change in the industry.

“The makers of IoT devices still use vulnerable software components, poor network and communication security, and are unable to supply software updates in the field,” says Ansari. “They’re still making essentially all of the mistakes everyone else made in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Oh, and your voice-activated home device is spying on you and the company that makes it will give your data to the wrong person by accident with little oversight or accountability. This also suggests that better data privacy legislation — at least in the U.S. — is a potentially hot topic for 2019, particularly in light of the events of recent elections. Nobody loved implementing GDPR in Europe, but its protections for ordinary people are decent.”

3. Skills gap

More than one of our sources mentioned the much-discussed skills gap in IT, but with a twist — some tech leaders now see the problem more self-inflicted than intractable.

“If you’re only looking at college graduates with computer science or electrical engineering degrees from the top ten universities in the U.S. then yes, there are hardly any candidates, and most of them are going off to the five largest employers,” says Tod Beardsley, director of research at Rapid7. “But the potential talent pool is so, so much larger than this, and companies would do well to explore this space a little more liberally.”

Sandra Toms, vice president and curator of the RSA Conference, says IT departments would help themselves by “plugging their skills gap with more diverse employees, and not just in terms of race and gender. Most IT hiring groups fail to look at diversity in life experiences, religion, backgrounds, sexual orientation, and education. Viewing diversity in a more holistic manner should open up a broader field of candidates and lead to higher levels of productivity.”  

For a more in-depth look at the hiring market, see “IT skills gap: Facts vs. fictions.”

4. Multi-cloud security

When exploring new cloud-based services, CIOs now need to ask about security across multiple platforms, says Laurent Gil, security product strategy architect at Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.

“Traditionally, multi-cloud leads the enterprise to manage many different, often incompatible and inconsistent security systems,” Gil says. “We think that selecting cross-cloud, cloud-agnostic security platforms is now fundamental in ensuring consistency, and most importantly completeness of securing enterprise-wide assets regardless of where these assets are living.”

Find out the “7 secrets to a successful multi-cloud strategy.”

5. Innovation and digital transformation

According to Gartner data, about two-thirds of business leaders think their companies need to speed up their digital transformation or face losing ground to competitors.

Most companies will continue on the same path until they’re forced to do otherwise, says Merrick Olives, managing partner at cloud consulting firm Candid Partners.

“Tying IT spend to strategic business capabilities and answering the question ‘How will this make us more competitive?’ is essential,” Olives says. “Value stream-based funding models as opposed to project-based funding are becoming more and more effective at tying board-level objectives to budgetary influences. The cost structures and process efficiencies of legacy vs. a nimble digital capability are much different — nimble is less expensive and much more efficient.”

See also “6 secrets of highly innovative CIOs” and “Insider tips on how to get digital transformation right.”

6. Finding new revenue streams

Ian Murray, vice president of telecom expense management software firm Tangoe, says that while the business landscape is ever evolving, the basic premise of making a profit is the same.

“The process to finding and exploiting revenue opportunities hasn’t fundamentally changed — find a problem that we can solve that is common, prevalent and that people will pay to solve,” Murray says.

What has changed is the emphasis on direct revenue generation landing in the CIO’s lap
, says Mike Fuhrman, chief product officer of hybrid IT infrastructure provider Peak 10 + ViaWest.

“Maybe I’m old school, but I don’t think the CIO should be worried about directly generating revenue,” Fuhrman says. “I’m starting to see this pop up more and more among my peers. To stay relevant as a CIO, many are working to try and productize themselves. While there are benefits to thinking that way, I think it can also be a recipe for defocusing the team and the boardroom. When it comes to revenue-generating opportunities, the place the CIO belongs is focusing on those projects and digitizing the business into an automated platform at scale. We need to stay focused on driving costs out of the business and scaling from a go-to-market perspective. That’s how a CIO should focus on revenue.”

For more insights, see “6 secrets of revenue-generating CIOs.”

7. Lack of agility

Organizations that aim to incorporate agile methods sometimes end up limping along in a sort of hybrid model that incorporates agile practices but also more linear “waterfall” methods. In short, the worst of both worlds.

Tangoe’s Murray lays it out: “Developers are coding to specific spec sheets with little conceptual understanding of how this button or feature fits within the overall user experience. A disciplined approach is needed to pull this off, where the solution to specific problems are addressed within a certain release. Each release is then coordinated for a set of sprints so that a comprehensive solution that adds to the UX is achieved with every release and not just a collection of requested features that may or may not support one another.”

See also: “5 misconceptions CIOs still have about agile.”

8. Outsourcing risks   

The skills gap will lead many organizations to seek outside help. But these sometimes-necessary solutions can lead to concerns with reliability and security.

“Our main focus is to deliver on the promises we make to each customer,” says Sanchez. “You build your reputation and business on this one critical thing. In outsourcing your work, the quality of the deliverable is sometimes at the mercy of the firm you outsourced to. Given the sensitive nature of the projects we manage, we utilize strict third-party vendor assessments to evaluate partners in the event a project requires us to consider outsourcing some or all of the required tasks.”

In addition to quality concerns, outsourcing opens up security threats that are well known. “The specific threats for CIOs that should be top of mind are the insider and the contractor,” says French Caldwell, chief evangelist with MetricStream and a former White House cybersecurity advisor. “Until we move away from passwords for credentials, humans will continue to be the biggest threat.”

For more, see “11 keys to a successful outsourcing relationship.”

9. Business results

Matt Wilson, chief information security advisor at BTB Security, says there’s a disconnect between what’s set aside for the IT budget and measurable results for the business.  

“Most organizations haven’t taken a hard, brutally honest, look at their current spend,” Wilson says. “There’s often too much momentum behind the way things are currently done, the solutions already acquired, and the processes built over a decade to allow for any meaningful change. Instead, organizations may cobble together partial solutions that can’t ever fully address the root of the IT challenge — for example, Equifax not patching a known vulnerability. We live with IT pain. We waste dollars. We frustrate our talented resources with solvable problems that are rendered completely impossible in our companies by momentum. For 2019, we should refuse to be captive to history.”

See also: “The new rules of IT-business alignment in the digital era.”

10. Tools for a digital native workforce

Christian Teismann, SVP of global enterprise business at Lenovo, argues that a new workforce of employees who grew up with digital technology demands new ways of working that will boost the bottom line.

“Gen Z, for instance, expects control over the types of technology available to them,” Teismann says. “They favor the technology they grew up with and use in other spheres of their lives in the workplace — as well as a recognition of personal and cultural elements. Tech-enriched, assistive spaces that are configurable and flexible will continue to trend.”

11. Rebuilding trust

Isaac Wong, software engineering manager at Retriever Communications, calls 2018 a “bad year for IT publicity,” based on a number of well publicized hacks of large companies and questionable sharing of customers’ online habits.

“Issues such as privacy, security and device addiction must be addressed immediately by big and small players in the industry,” Wong says. “As a sector we have to be responsible corporate citizens. We need to show that we care about the people we claim to be serving and act in their best interest. People trusted us and we should be very respectful in honoring that.”

Next read this:

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.


How Search Engine Optimization Works

It’s tough getting noticed on the Web. A Web page can provide useful information about a popular subject in an interactive and engrossing way, yet still attract few visitors. One of the most reliable ways to improve traffic is to achieve a high ranking on search engine return pages (SERPs).

Imagine that you’ve created the definitive Web site on a subject — we’ll use skydiving as an example. Your site is so new that it’s not even listed on any SERPs yet, so your first step is to submit your site to search engines like Google and Yahoo. The Web pages on your skydiving site include useful information, exciting photographs and helpful links guiding visitors to other resources. Even with the best information about skydiving on the Web, your site may not crack the top page of results on major search engines. When people search for the term “skydiving,” they could end up going to inferior Web sites because yours isn’t in the top results.

While most search engine companies try to keep their processes a secret, their criteria for high spots on SERPs isn’t a complete mystery. Search engines are successful only if they provide a user links to the best Web sites related to the user’s search terms. If your site is the best skydiving resource on the Web, it benefits search engines to list the site high up on their SERPs. You just have to find a way to show search engines that your site belongs at the top of the heap. That’s where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in — it’s a collection of techniques a webmaster can use to improve his or her site’s SERP position.

In this article, we’ll look at two SEO philosophies: the white hat approach and the black hat approach. We’ll also learn about some of the problems webmasters can encounter when trying to satisfy both the visitors to the site and search engines.

We’ll take a general overview of what SEO really means on the next page.


What is digital marketing

A generation ago, consumers were at the mercy of advertisers who spoon-fed them marketing messages across a few media channels: print, billboards, television, radio. These advertisers created markets, defining and reinforcing consumer stereotypes. In the 1950s, advertising was primarily a one-way conversation with a captive audience. TV advertising grew and matured into a viable marketing medium. Experts were the style makers.

With the explosion of digital media, people began to engage with each other – and the companies they did business with – in new ways. The relevance of traditional print and broadcast channels declined, completely changing the consumer-corporation dynamic. Digital channels opened doors for consumers. No longer passive participants in a one-sided marketing conversation, consumers became empowered authors, publishers and critics. The digital landscape is participatory, an area where consumers exchange ideas. Marketers no longer drive the discussion. Everyday consumers are now the style makers and trendsetters.

For marketers trying to compete in this new digital medium, it’s incredibly difficult to surface your content above the competitive noise. While the amount of time consumers spend on web and mobile has increased dramatically, the amount of available content has increased exponentially. More digital content is created in a day than most people can consume in a year. With so many distractions and choices, your audience has a very short attention span.

The exponential growth in digital channels has given rise to the importance of digital marketing. But digital marketing isn’t just about the channel. It’s also the mechanism by which people are creating and sharing content and experiences, engaging both with each other and the companies they do business with.


Understanding Project Management and Tips for Success


F. John Reh wrote about business management for The Balance, and has 30 years of experience as a business manager.

Read The Balance’s editorial policies

F. John Reh

Updated October 31, 2019

Project management is one of the most critical components of a successful business. It affects revenues and liabilities, and it ultimately interacts with customer or client satisfaction and retention. Your company might have only one project in the works at a time, while other larger corporations and entities might juggle several projects at once. By their very nature, projects are temporary.

Projects are a means toward a goal, and the goal will eventually be reached. Your business might move on to another project…or not. It might have been a one-time objective. 

Projects prompt a burgeoning need in the workforce. The Project Management Institute estimated that, during the 2010–2020 period, more than 15 million new project management positions would be added worldwide.

Project management is not the entire operation of your company. It’s just one segment, a specified project with a detailed plan as to how you and your business are going to achieve that goal. It’s a plan detailed in a series of steps, each of them as important as the others. You must achieve one to properly move on to the next.

Think of project management as a ladder you must climb. You can’t leap to the top. You must take it rung by rung for utmost efficiency. Your team must apply the tools made available to them as well as their expertise and knowledge to execute each step and move on to the next.

It’s easy enough to say you want to get to Box A, so you’re going to take 25 steps in that direction. But you must also factor time considerations into your project plan, and you most likely have to work within a budget. You might crawl those 25 steps or you might jog. It depends on how quickly you must get there for the successful completion of the project. You can save money by traveling on foot, or you can hire a driver. It depends on the budget you’ve dedicated to the project.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach, system, or plan. Each project you and your company tackle will most likely have its timeline, goal, and budget. That’s why it’s so critical to have a savvy, talented project manager in place to run the show. 

A successful project manager must simultaneously manage four basic elements of a project. These elements are interrelated.

  • Scope: This involves the project’s size, goals, and requirements.
  • Resources: You’ll need people, equipment, and materials in place. 
  • Time: This doesn’t just address how much time the project will take overall. It must be broken down into task durations, dependencies, and critical path.
  • Money: Have a firm grasp on costs, contingencies, and profit.

The project scope is the definition of what the project is supposed to accomplish and the budgets of time and money that have been created to achieve these objectives. Any change to the scope of the project must have a matching change in budget, time, resources, or all three.

If the project scope is to construct a building to house three widgets on a budget of $100,000, the project manager is expected to do that. If the scope is changed to a building for four widgets, the project manager must obtain an appropriate change in time, money, and resources. 

There are three aspects of understanding and managing resources: people, equipment, and material. 

A successful project manager must effectively manage the resources assigned to the project, including members of the project team, vendor staff, and subcontractors. He must ensure that his employees have the skills and tools they need to complete the job, and he must continually monitor whether he has enough people in place to complete the project on deadline. His job is to ensure that each person understands the task and project deadlines.

The senior member of each group of employees reports to the project manager when he’s managing direct employees, but employees might also have a line manager who provides technical direction. In a matrix management situation like a project team, the project manager’s job is to provide project direction to the line managers. Managing labor subcontracts usually means managing the team lead for the subcontracted workers, who in turn manage those workers.

A project manager must often procure equipment and materials and manage their use as well so that the team can operate efficiently. He’s responsible for having the appropriate equipment and materials in the correct location at the proper time. 

The three elements of successful time management are tasks, schedule, and critical path. 

Build the project schedule by listing, in order, all the tasks that must be completed. Some must be done sequentially while others can overlap or be done in tandem. Assign a duration to each task. Allocate the required resources. Determine predecessors—what tasks must be completed before others—and successors, the tasks that can’t start until after each other task is completed. This aspect of project management is sometimes referred to as waterfall management because one task follows another in more or less sequential order.

Project management software can simplify the task of creating and managing the project schedule.

Some tasks have a little flexibility in their required start and finish dates. This is called “float.” Other tasks have no flexibility. They have zero float. A line through all the tasks with zero float is called the critical path. All tasks on this path—and there can be multiple, parallel paths—must be completed on time if the project is to come in by its deadline. The project manager’s key time management task is monitoring the critical path.

The three considerations in managing money are costs, contingencies, and profit. 

Each task has a cost, whether that’s the labor hours of a computer programmer or the purchase price of a cubic yard of concrete. Each of these costs is estimated and totaled when preparing the project budget.

Some estimates will be more accurate than others. The project budget should, therefore, include a contingency allowance—money set aside in the budget “just in case” the actual cost of an item is wildly different from the estimate.

Profit is the money the company wants to make from the task. It’s put on top of the cost.

So a project budget is composed of the estimated cost, plus the contingency, plus any profit. The project manager’s job is to keep the actual cost at or below the estimated cost and to maximize the profit the company earns on the project.

Successful project management takes practice. These ideas can give you a basic understanding of project management but consider it only a beginning. If your job or career path includes project management, and if you want to improve your skills, talk to successful project managers, read, and practice. Project management can be a very rewarding career.


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Server Management What Is It All About

You’re likely to continue using the management tool you choose for a long period of time. So it’s worth carefully considering your choice. Factors you should keep in mind include:

Vendor Compatibility

Yes, you may be satisfied with your current hardware provider. But as you upgrade and renew your machines you may change providers or introduce a mix of providers. Don’t choose a server monitoring tool which restricts you to a specific provider. Even if all your equipment is from a single vendor, try to ensure long-term flexibility via a tool compatible with multiple vendors.

Server Monitoring Overheads

Every piece of software consumes resources, including server management and checking software. In most cases, a tool is likely to fit clients with operations that are a certain size. Importantly, you should avoid getting a tool which slows down your operations. Or which generates too much traffic on your network. Not sure what the resource impact of a tool will be? Many vendors offer trial periods on their software – just try it out first.

Match Your Server Administration Requirements

Different software come with different features, so try to match the tool you buy to your company’s oversight needs. Thought an extremely comprehensive package may look attractive, you should be careful not to buy software that you will never use. For small environments, buy a simple tool. For larger environments, consider a tool which can deal with complexity and which includes group-management functionality. However, never buy a tool that’s so complicated you end up not using it.

Server Management Roles

It’s useful to be able to grant restricted access to management consoles. Even if there’s just a single sysadmin looking after servers. You can, for example, give management staff the ability to directly view reports so that they can draw their own conclusions. Or, you may in future employ an assistant in which case you would need your junior employee to access functionality without giving full control to your assistant.

Scaling Server Monitoring

Your computing requirements may change in future. Smaller outfits should consider buying a cut-down edition of a tool which is made for large operations. Should you need to upgrade you can simply step up inside the product family, so you don’t need to retrain. Packages which only work with smaller environments may mean that you will need to switch vendors later on which can involve a learning curve.

Automating Server Management Processes

With the complex server environments so common nowadays, the mere ability to perform checking is no longer enough. Instead, you need to be able to automate the regular server administration tasks that are time-consuming. Good software can reduce much of the server administration tasks down to simply checking logs. It’s a job that gives the opportunity for interns to gain knowledge while freeing up the time of expensive sysadmins.


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