Information technology, or IT as it is known in most modern business settings, can be a challenge for small to medium business owners. Whether your business may have its own IT expert in-house or be too small to employ its own, your organization uses IT every day. Government regulations change regularly and growth means IT needs to adapt, too. Additionally, the world of technology is always experiencing new development.
That’s where technology assessments come in. Every business should undertake an annual technology assessment to ensure its IT needs are being met. Here’s a look at what technology assessments are, the purpose behind them, and what types of things they evaluate.
Every organization uses technology. Whether your business is using the internet for ecommerce, your non-profit is building a new business website, or your company is sending and receiving emails, you and your employees utilize IT. As your business grows, the complexity of your IT does as well. This can be a challenge for small to medium businesses, however, as they often don’t have the budget to hire a full-time employee to handle such matters. Even if you do have IT staff on hand, they may be so busy that a third-party such as ORAM may be the key to getting your annual IT assessment done quickly and efficiently.
This is where an independent technology assessment comes in. Such assessments evaluate multiple aspects of your existing IT to determine if what you have is effective enough to cover your growing organizational needs and, if not, what changes need to be implemented. Just as you should see your doctor every year for a full physical, your company also requires an annual IT checkup.
The Purpose of IT Assessments
The costs of IT are rising every year, the complexity of IT planning is becoming increasingly difficult, and regulatory compliance is beginning to overwhelm organizational leaders. An annual technology assessment can tell you what your company currently has in terms of IT to overcome these obstacles versus what it really needs to achieve your technology and business goals.
An IT assessment should cover several aspects of your business technology including:
• Strategically evaluating whether your IT infrastructure is ready to grow with your business.
• Identifying areas of opportunity to improve your business processes and reduce your IT costs.
• Pinpointing any “red flag” areas that require deeper analysis and adjustments.
• Prioritizing your IT investments to reflect your business strategy.
What They Do
Information technology assessments examine your existing IT infrastructure and business goals such as growth. Through this audit of your business’s current systems and processes, it can be determined if they are effective at meeting your organizational goals.
For example, if you operate a law firm that wishes to grow by 10 percent each year for the next five years, your IT must be able to adapt to the changing needs of your law firm. In addition, you are bound by several governmental regulations such as the protection of your client’s personally identifiable information (PII). This means you must have achieved a certain level of security to meet those requirements with your IT.
An annual assessment can determine if the IT your business has in place is capable of handling these requirements and, if not, what adjustments need to occur. A strong technology assessment will answer the following questions:
• How is the health of technology in my organization?
• Is my business using technology to its fullest extent?
• Can my existing technology accommodate growth?
• Is my company exposed to risk that can be avoided with proper planning?
What They Cover
Just like a physical, an IT assessment comes with a checklist of things that are covered to ensure the best IT health and the lowest risk to your organization. Areas that should be covered in your IT assessment include the following:
• Physical assets: Servers, desktops, laptops, telephones, networks (internal and external), Peripherals (scanners, printers, copiers, etc.), and data management and tracking (such as storage and disposal)
• Applications: Desktop programs, email management, accounting and other business-critical applications, document management, security programs, and your organizational web site
• Policies, Procedures, and Processes: Business continuity plans, disaster recovery, change management, security management, on-boarding and off-boarding of employees, ongoing IT training, and help desk
• Partner & Vendor Management: Collaborations, sales, purchasing, software licensing, voice and data circuit providers, third-party service providers
• Industry or Business Specific Details: Government-issued regulations, industry requirements, and unique company needs
This list of items is reviewed by conducting interviews with key people in your business and through checks of your business infrastructure. During the interviews, you or your IT staff will be asked to answer specific questions about the technology in place that supports your organization. You will also be questioned about your business and its goals.
When ORAM conducts a full technology assessment, we have a list of 300 questions that thoroughly examine everything from your existing IT policies and procedures to your key IT assets and their settings. We also look at the infrastructure of your organization to determine what you have, how well it works, and what you need. All of this is wrapped up into a results report specific to your company.
All of the data gathered during the assessment is put into a final report that will allow business leadership to make informed decisions about the IT of your company. In addition to the current status of your IT health, recommendations will also be made to keep your business operating smoothly, protected against threats, and compliant with industry and/or government regulations. Business leadership should review the results to determine what steps to take in order to keep moving forward with safe, effective, and efficient IT that meets business goals within their budget.
The final report is also a terrific means for documenting your IT and planning business continuity in the event of a disaster such as a breach. While this is a wonderful report that can do much to support your business health and goals, it does need to be updated annually to address the changes in technology and your company.
Why Every Business Needs IT Assessments
Since every organization uses IT, every business needs an annual technology assessment. The final report is not only a document that keeps businesses on the cutting-edge of technology and security, but also provides assurance that government regulations are being achieved. Finally, it gives leaders a look at the IT health of their company and acts as a roadmap to guide them through the necessary changes to their existing technology that will allow them to achieve their desired outcomes in the future.
If you are interested in a short, free technology assessment by ORAM, a full technology assessment, or simply have questions regarding your organization’s IT, please contact ORAM at (617) 933-5060 or visit us online today.