How to Convince Management to Invest in Patch Management

update

Are you facing unreasonable constraints when it comes to workstation patches and updates? Many small businesses just rely on automatic updates or, in the worst cases, disable updates altogether – creating more work for the IT team in the process.

Management that eschews such a basic part of network maintenance is not always a lost cause. This quick guide will help you convince your organization decision-makers to reconsider adopting safer and more effective software patching policies.

Overcome Common Objections

Negotiations will go more smoothly if you can figure out why management made the decisions they made in the first place. The following list of common objections might help. Unless the decision-makers are well versed in network administration and patch management, they are sure to bring up the following (often very legitimate) concerns:

1. “Software updates interrupt work”

This is definitely true for poorly configured update services, especially the native apps supplied by the software venders themselves. Remind management that a comprehensive and strictly controlled patch management policy will actually reduce the need for intrusive update reminders and unexpected reboots. Utilities like BatchPatch management software put an emphasis on scheduling and automation to ensure seamless, silent updates.

2. “We haven’t had a problem yet”

Most computer users view bugs as standalone problems rather than the symptoms they are. Your management may be aware of software bugs and flaws but might not realize those problems are the result of un-patched or obsolete software. Besides, just because an individual is unaware of a problem does not mean that problem doesn’t exist, especially in the realm of Internet security. Run a security penetration package on a test machine to demonstrate how serious future problems could be.

3. “The last round of updates broke the software!”

Many businesses rely on software packages built years ago. Perhaps the programmer left the company or the manufacturer no longer supports the build, or a newer version broke or removed a crucial feature at some point in time. It’s worth re-visiting these concerns to see if the situation has changed in the meantime. If not, see if the savings generated by your proposed changes would be enough to overcome the cost of replacing the software.

4. “Configuration would take too much time

Setting up a new patch management solution is time consuming indeed, but try to focus more on the positive: the amount of time saved on little tweaks and fixes to the current update routines, the amount of time your team can save on scripting workarounds, the amount of time your employees save by enjoying functional software. Mention the fact that many robust patch management suites allow system administrators to conduct other batch operations with ease.

5. “We can’t afford a better solution”

Your management team may have already met with countless firms offering patch management and other services at a significant markup, but not all packages are so expensive. Make sure to approach the management with a list of alternatives – sometimes the patch management tools available from smaller vendors actually give system administrators more power and flexibility compared to the name brand enterprise solutions.

Check the Cost/Benefit

Cost/benefit analysis is the best way to get the management on your side. Calculate how many hours you spend each week dealing with support inquiries regarding outdated software. Calculate the potential benefit of obtaining any currently missing features that fully patched software supports. Find out how much time and money your team spends on security workarounds to mitigate the risks of running un-patched software.

Run a small simulation to find out how much potential system downtime could be involved for various types of patching difficulties and corrective actions. Find out how much your organization could save (in terms of labor hours, disk usage, and bandwidth costs) with better patch management protocols.

On the other end of the scale, calculate how much it could cost to take down and repair the entire network if a security breach were to result from insufficiently patched software. Direct costs can include lawsuits, fines/penalties, disclosure expenses, internal investigations, and emergency remediation to restore lost data and prevent further exploitation. Indirect costs can include lost clients and a damaged reputation.

Update Your Approach to Patch Management!

Even the most cost-conscious or tech-resistant decision maker will understand the benefits of better patch management if you make your case clearly in terms of time, cost, risk, and savings. Your team might need the newer tools, but your boss needs them even more!

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