First Column IT blog
What a Real IT Assessment Will Reveal
While IT solutions are an increasingly important factor to any business’ success, it isn’t always an easy matter to determine which solutions will be the most beneficial. One of the most important steps to identifying them is to understand how your current solutions function, and how they can be put to better use or otherwise improved.
An IT assessment is one of the most effective ways to do so.
The Scope of Assessment
As the purpose of the assessment is to gain a more complete understanding of how well your business’ IT functions, you should focus some of your efforts upon the practical application of these technologies--in other words, how are your solutions actually assisting your business’ needs? This could include almost all aspects that your business is concerned with: your hardware, your software, risk management, your network security, your financial records and information, compliance to any applicable regulations or standards, your human resources, as well as any other needs that your business and industry must consider.
Before you can expect a comprehensive report to come from your efforts, you need to have a full understanding of what such an assessment will frequently refer back to. Two crucial metrics that will repeatedly make an appearance are your total cost of ownership, and your return on investment.
- Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) - This takes a look at the comprehensive cost of a given piece of business technology. Therefore, it goes beyond just the cost of procurement, and also considers how much the solution will cost to operate and maintain, as well as how much additional cost any downtime could create.
- Return on Investment (ROI) - This familiar metric measures your profit from a single investment, once all procurement and operating costs have been covered.
Let’s review the phases that an IT assessment progresses through:
If an IT assessment is to be kicked off, there has to be some reason for it, and the results of this assessment (or audit, if you prefer) is going to inform your future decisions. Naturally, this makes it even more important that this audit is conducted by technicians who are trained to recognize what they are looking at, and how your technology needs to be considered an element of your workflow.
Your first step should be to compile an Asset Detail Report. This report is effectively a comprehensive inventory list of your business’ technology--your computers, printers, servers, routers, switches, virtualized platforms, and anything else--that helps you to keep track of each device’s position and role in your infrastructure. This piece of hardware is x-years old, this is version-y of this software, which was installed on this date, these IP addresses are important, this is how our endpoints are secured, where we store this much data, and more tibits are all included in this report.
You might find that it is helpful to create a site diagram, which effectively maps out the flow of your data throughout your network and its devices. Our technicians can help you with this, or with any other part of your assessment.
Next, IT technicians will assess your existing network, performing what is called a SWOT analysis (which analyzes your business network’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats). By identifying potentially problematic features of the business’ IT infrastructure and overall network health, these technicians can take the SWOT and figure out what needs to be done to improve your IT’s sustainability. You will be advised on investments that can help reduce your risk while also promoting desirable TCO rates and improving your ROI.
Once these recommendations are finalized, they can be shaped into a plan the business can use to inform their decisions further.
Finally, a risk report is assembled that combines the results from a variety of factors, including:
- Network hardware
- Security configuration
- VPN/Remote Access
- Websites, domain names, and hosting provider
- Phone System
- Email, messaging, and conferencing
- Computers, mobile devices, tablets
- Software and mobile apps
- Procedures, policies
- Technology vendors
Other factors are included in this report as well, like the status of domain controllers, the users listed in Active Directory, the last login of a particular user, potential vulnerabilities (like weak passwords and missing software updates), and any known network vulnerabilities.
At the end of the process, you will have a report that gives you every piece of information you’ll need regarding the IT that your organization has and how it can impact the team trying to use it.
In order to achieve success, you need to make sure your IT is ready to support it. To learn more about the IT assessment process, or to schedule one for your business, call 703-880-6683 and talk to First Column IT today.