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 with any applicable regulations or standards, your human resources (who’s running and managing the network), 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:
What’s the reason for your assessment? Looking to acquire or sell a company? Looking to improve efficiency of your network and its users? Concerned about your IT spend, or the people managing the network? There are many reasons to go through an assessment, and the results are going to effect 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.
The 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. The end result and recommendations will differ significantly, depending on, for example, whether you have 17 seven year old Windows 7 machines, vs. 17 brand new Windows 10 units.
Next, our engineers 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 engineers 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
● Cabling and Wireless Networking
● 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. We will provide a roadmap, based on our understanding of your network, your needs, and your plans for future growth. How does business effect your IT, and conversely, how does IT effect your business? We’ll hash that all out for you.
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 216 397-4080 and talk to Ashton Technology Solutions today.