46 Common IT Problems
John Spacey, updated on March 23, 2021
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 ComplexityA 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 TrailA lack of logs and information to aid audits and investigations.
Authentication And AuthorizationWeakness in basic security controls that authenticate users and authorize information access and transactions.
AvailabilityA technology service with too much downtime. In many cases, any system that is available less than four nines is a problem.
Backup And RestoreData that isn't sufficiently backed up or that lacks established restore procedures.
BrittlenessTechnology that easily breaks such as upgrades that always seem to fail.
Business Technology AlignmentTechnology that the business doesn't need or that fails to support business functions.
CapacityCapacity limitations such as data storage or bandwidth.
Change ControlChanges that are made to code, configurations or infrastructure outside of a properly controlled process. For example, ad hoc maintenance without approvals or notifications.
ComplianceTechnology functions and conditions that fail to comply with laws and regulations.
Configuration ManagementConfiguration management is 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 IntegrationData that is needed by multiple processes and systems that isn't properly integrated.
Data ProliferationData that is maintained in multiple systems and documents, typically resulting in inconsistencies.
Data QualityData that is missing, wrong, poorly formatted or difficult to access to support business processes.
DefectsSoftware and hardware bugs can be considered problems if they are a persistent issue.
Design DebtA 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 RecoveryA 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 ArchitectureAn IT organization that lacks a consistent structure such as shared services, platforms, standards, practices and designs.
Fault ToleranceServices that easily crash when they encounter an error.
Information Security VulnerabilitesVulnerabilities that allow threats to compromise information security.
InteroperabilityComponents and platforms that don't work together seamlessly.
Knowledge ManagementMissing 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 TechnologyTechnology that has aged to the point that it is expensive to support, difficult to extend and at risk of failing.
MaintainabilityComponents of information technology that are expensive and high risk to maintain.
Mean Time To RepairA common measure of the average time to fix an incident when it occurs. A high mean time to repair (MTTR) is indicative of problems such as missing knowledge, skill gaps and poor designs.
Operations ProcessesA lack of mature IT operations processes for support, maintenance and improvement.
OwnershipApplications or services that have no identifiable owner in your organization.
PerformanceServices that are generally slow or that fail when business volumes peak.
PrivacyInsufficient privacy controls that represent compliance, liability and reputation risks.
Process IntegrationProblems related to process integration such as event processing limitations and failures.
ReliabilityA tool or component that doesn't perform consistently such as errors that appear to be erratic.
Retention PolicyUnclear or insufficient procedures and policies for data retention.
ScalabilityServices and systems that fail to support increased business volume in an efficient way.
Service DeskA 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 ManagementService management is 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 BloatSoftware that is far too complex for its function.
Software EntropyThe 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 QualitySoftware that fails to function or behave as documented in specifications such as business requirements.
Structural IntegrityA poorly designed technology stack that is difficult to maintain, improve and extend.
Subject Matter ExpertsA lack of highly skilled experts in areas such as architecture, security, infrastructure, design and programming.
Technology SilosThe 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.
TestabilityAn inability to regression test changes due to poor documentation of existing functionality.
Transactional IntegrityTransactional integrity refers to the atomicity of business functions. For example, a financial transaction such as a stock trade should either succeed or fail with nothing inbetween. Transactions that partially succeed result 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.
UsabilityInterfaces that are difficult to use resulting in low employee engagement, productivity issues and human error.
Vendor Lock InA 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.
WorkflowWorkflow problems such as the inability to reassign tasks when an employee is on vacation.
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