20 more IT mistakes to avoid

Fall prey to any one of these common IT blunders and watch your company's prospects suffer -- not to mention your own

12. Falling into the compliance money-pit

When it comes to complying with Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, and other regulations, too many companies fall back on the Band-Aid method. But throwing money at nebulous compliance objectives only drains funds that might otherwise be used for more tangible projects. While a critical regulatory deadline may necessitate a quick compliance fix in some cases, overall it's best to take a holistic approach.

When planning your compliance strategy, think in terms of global policies and procedures, rather than point solutions targeted at specific audits. Aim to eliminate redundant procedures and manual record-keeping, and focus on ways to automate the compliance process on an ongoing basis. To do otherwise is just throwing good money after bad.

13. Underestimating the importance of scale

You may think you've planned for scalability, but chances are, your systems are rife with hidden trouble areas that will haunt you as your business grows. First and foremost, be mindful of process interdependencies. A system is only as robust as its least reliable component. In particular, any process that requires human intervention will be a bottleneck for any automated processes that depends on it, no matter how much hardware you throw at the task.

Also, cutting corners today is a sure recipe for headaches tomorrow. As tempting as it may be to piggyback a departmental database onto an underutilized Web server or let an open workstation double as networked storage, resist. Today's minor project could easily become tomorrow's mission-critical resource, leaving you with the unenviable task of separating the conjoined twins.

14. Mismanaging your SaaS strategy

Salesforce.com proved that SaaS (software as a service) has real legs in enterprise computing. When compared to traditional desktop software, the on-demand model offers customers a low barrier to entry and virtually no maintenance costs. Little wonder, then, that a growing number of software vendors have begun offering hosted products in numerous software categories. If you haven't at least considered SaaS options, you're doing your business a disservice.

Too much SaaS, on the other hand, can become problematic. Hosted services don't interoperate as well as desktop software, and the level of customization offered by SaaS vendors varies. Remember, SaaS is just a business model -- it isn't really a bargain if the software itself is immature.

15. Not profiling your code

Relative performance is a perennial debate among programmers. Does code written for one language or platform run as well as equivalent code written for another?

Here, software development dovetails with carpentry, as it's often the poor craftsman who blames his tools. For every application that suffers due to an underlying flaw in the language, countless others are rife with poorly designed algorithms, inefficient storage calls, and other programmer-created speed bumps.

Locating these trouble spots is the goal of code profiling, and that's what makes it so essential. Until you've identified the slowest portions of your code, any attempt to optimize it will ultimately be fruitless. Because who knows? Maybe the problem isn't your fault after all.

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