IT policies

Information Technology is the key driver in any business. Modern businesses operate out of computers and Internet. Proper usage of IT allows businesses to unlock competitive advantages, ensure data confidentiality, protect against cyber threats, as well as improve efficiency and transparency. Hence, clear IT policies need to be created to help employees better understand how to organize data in a standardized format, facilitate workflow, and more.

IT policies need to be open to changes as business environments, capabilities, and requirements evolve. Find out when an appropriate time to review and update your policies is:

Conduct Annual Reviews

Many people fear of overdoing something. When it comes to reviewing IT policies, it is a good practice to do it on an annual basis. It can even become one of your company’s New Year’s traditions. Your business might have already complied with GDPR requirements (the deadline was on 25th May 2018), but let’s use the General Data Protection Regulation as an example. Before the regulations came into full effect in May, you should have already started reviewing your policies around IT security and data management.

You should check that you have the means you inform your clients of a data breach within 72 hours of discovering the attack. Do your policies reflect this? If the answer is no, you should update your policies to stay align with the latest best practices and compliance standards.

Other Situations that Warrant a Review

Your IT policies should be handled with a decent amount of flexibility. Certain details may need to be changed on an ongoing basis. Below are several situations which may require your boss or you to potentially review and update the company’s IT policies.

  • Employees are finding it difficult to understand the policies: If you notice that a team member has a hard time understanding or following your policies, you should find out why. Ensure the policies are written in plain language and clarity. The policies should not be written for highly tech literate personnel only.
  • Change in laws and regulations: GDPR is a good example. You must be able to adapt to law changes expeditiously.
  • Business expansion: Employee numbers can rise when a business experiences rapid growth. However, the risk of human error is now higher. You should train new employees to avoid clicking on malicious links during the onboarding process. Your policies should be updated to reflect relevant information.
  • You are hiring remote workers: Your IT policies should acknowledge and address the heavy use of cloud-based services, proxy servers, and more.
  • BYOD practices: IT security policies must educate employees, who are using their personal tablets or smartphones for work, on how to protect business data.
  • You are opening a new overseas office: Every country has their own standards and regulations pertaining to data security. Ensuring all offices comply with the laws and regulations of that location is of utmost importance.

As your business needs change, ask yourself if:

  • Your policies effectively deal with the issues it is trying to address.
  • Your policies are accurately reflecting the way your company currently operates.
  • You can create new policies to address the latest business requirements.
  • Any policies can be removed when certain business requirements are obsolete.

To Be Clear

You are not required to revolutionize your IT policies every single year or amend them with every little change to your business that may occur along the way. The goal is to take stock and ensure that everything is fully up to date. This way, your business does not get left behind (non-compliance) and become vulnerable to cyber attacks.