The advancement of IT network technology, online banking services and the growing demand from customers to have 24/7 access to their financial lives have changed the business of banking. These changes have shifted the objectives of running a community bank away from simply needing to manage money and provide loans to also managing data and the IT networks that carry this information. From the teller line and the CSR platform to the phone and alarm systems, most modern institutions are highly interconnected and dependent on their IT network infrastructure. It is the lifeblood of today’s financial institution so it is imperative all technology assets work together and efficiently.
To ensure all systems are constantly functioning, it is important to continuously monitor hardware and software for failures, virus detection, and be alerted to required maintenance. Having a centralized solution in place that automatically monitors, alerts, tickets, provides support and reporting for servers, workstations, network routers, switches, software and other devices is an integral and critical function in today’s community bank.
Community banks face common challenges in terms of the capacity of their IT staff including:
- Finding IT Talent. Smaller financial institutions rely on technology to help them deliver the same services as the big banks in their regions; however, it can be very difficult to attract and retain quality IT talent to maintain these complex systems. IT teams (many times a single individual) are tasked with implementing new technologies and applications while keeping the bank’s IT infrastructure running and documenting every change to meet regulators’ demands.
- Keeping up with the Patches. When it comes to security, patch management is a critical component of any IT management plan. Patching is also a time consuming task for your bank’s IT personnel. It can take up to 30 minutes to manually patch an individual workstation. However, ensuring patches are up to date, as well as having a documented report of the patches that have been put in place, is crucial for security and compliance in the banking environment.
- Sustaining Security while Going Mobile. The shift in the banking industry to online and mobile services has also changed the job of IT network administrators and information technology officers. That’s put a new pressure on this role to ensure the financial institution’s network and data are protected from viruses, malware and electronic attacks from would-be-digital robbers. It’s not an easy job!
Having a programmatic way of proactively monitoring and addressing issues as they occur, is imperative to maximize uptime of all systems. The automation of these basic IT processes can benefit your financial institution tremendously. It also frees up IT personnel to help deliver services to customers and enhance the bank’s profitability.
With today’s mounting pressures, many community banks are increasingly turning to technology service providers to help manage their IT infrastructure. Such partners bring knowledge, additional resources and expertise to help community banks control and manage their complex IT environments and operate in today’s financial services arena with a greater degree of confidence.
A technology service provider can help consolidate, automate and manage many of the administrative functions that are so time consuming for in-house staff. Automating patch management and reporting saves bank IT administrators a great deal of time. In addition, providing bankers the ability to receive live information for diagnostic or reporting purposes, as well as remote access to the network not only saves time and improves efficiencies, but also helps meet the responsibilities of banking IT managers for documenting the environment for regulators.
When looking for a technology service provider to help your bank, look for the following characteristics:
- Does the provider offer flexibility in their support services that align with your organization’s IT needs?
- Does the technology service provider have knowledge and expertise of all the regulatory requirements of financial institutions?
- Are their support center staff and system engineers well-versed in network and security technologies, as well as understand the unique technical requirements of your core banking platform and ancillary applications?
For more information about ways to improve the management of your bank’s IT network, please download our complementary white paper, Best Practices for Control and Management of your Community Bank’s Information Technology.