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5 simple ways to reduce Technical Debt in the year before selling your company

Updated: Jun 11, 2020

Originally Published - 2/20/15

There have been several articles written about what to do in the 12 months before you sell your company on the finance & process side, but little guidance as to how to reduce the Technical Debt and associated risk accrued over time.

Buyers are increasingly aware of the risks associated with technology, especially in non-technology companies and will be pushing sellers for answers and reduced prices if the risks are too great.

The following are 5 simple things that should visibly reduce your levels of Technical Debt and associated risks.

5 – End of Life Operating Systems / Operating System patching / Anti-Virus configuration

“End Of Life” operating systems, like Windows XP & Windows 2000/2003/2008 (and soon to be 2012) are a big accumulated Debt, and need to be replaced as those systems no longer receive security updates.

Patching can be easy to skip, and hard to catch up. One way that patching doesn’t happen is when employees turn their machines off every night, or simply close their laptops.

  • The simplest way to get caught up is to use “auto update” available in the operating system.

Assuming that you have some kind of AntiVirus/End Point Protection installed on every machine (you do right?) check the status of the definitions, are they up to date?

If your definitions are old, it's likely that when you update them, your machines will be infected with viruses that will need to be cleaned up. One cause of Technical Debt is that AntiVirus software came installed on the machine and the subscription has run out, meaning you are no longer receiving updates.

4 - Wireless Networks

Wireless Networks are super convenient, however if set up improperly can leave your businesses data freely accessible to anyone sitting in the parking lot, in a nearby coffee shop or even with a tablet. There are some simple things you can do to reduce the Technical Debt incurred through a poor configuration.

  • Take the time to configure your wireless devices to require encryption (WPA2), enable passwords and limit the internal systems accessible from the wireless network (Billing / Design Documents / Intellectual Property).

  • Create a guest wireless network for visitors with no access to any internal systems.

3 - Access to the Internet from shop floor / access to shop floor from internet – access to 3rd parties

  • Walk around your facility and look for computers on the shop floor, and other places where multiple people have access to each machine.

  • What is the primary function of the machine and what does it need to access to complete that function ?

  • What ELSE can be accessed (the internet / email / company data) ?

Shared machines with lots of access are a way to enable people to be really efficient, however are a big contributor to Infrastructure based Technical Debt and associated business risks.

  • Do you know what your employees can access from home, or the local coffee shop? Is it just what’s on their laptop or can then access the data in the office, can they control manufacturing processes from a remote location?

  • Do you have partners, vendors with access to your company network? If so what can they access?

Remote access is very convenient and useful, but, when done poorly, is a big source of Technical Debt.

2 - Where is important data and who has access to it?

Have you thought about what constitutes your critical data? Some examples include

  • financial data

  • proprietary drawings / process documents

  • HR documents

  • sales information / contracts.

Do you know where it is?

  • Physical

  • electronic copies / scans

  • Word or Excel documents

  • Applications / web site / intranet portal

  • Someone’s machine

Do you know who has access to it?

It’s easy over time for data to sprawl out, and access be granted for a temporary reason only to never have that access removed. Performing a simple audit, using a simple spreadsheet will allow you to answer these questions and reduce the accumulated Technical Debt.

1 - End User training – Security 101.

A simple introduction to the fundamentals of Information Security will pay dividends. Don't have an internal resource bring in a trainer for a few hours.

MXL Consulting can guide you in implementing basic processes, improve training and cleaning up your documentation to reduce your accumulated Technical Debt, reduce the assiciated business risks and add value to your company.

Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash

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