8 Proactive IT Self-Assessment Best Practices

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Jon Ryan; Network Center, Inc.

In a world where new technology is introduced almost daily, you need to be proactive in your approach to your company’s IT environment design.  The “Set it and forget it” approach only works with the As Seen on TV products.  In fact your IT environment is drastically the opposite approach.  But it is easy to think you are all set for the year.  Here are 10 proactive IT self-assessment practices that can help guide you.

1. Don't get too content
Don’t fix it if it isn’t broken, right?  Wrong.  Turning on your IT “Cruise Control” can make you drive right by new technology opportunities.  Take more of a proactive approach.  “How can we improve on what is working for us?”  Search out those inefficiencies and improve on infrastructure and process.  A quiet IT environment doesn’t always mean there isn’t something that could be running even better!

2. Review your environment often
Whether you realize it or not, your business is progressing and changing daily.  You should be aware of these changes as they are happening, however the recommended business practice is to do a complete review at least quarterly.  Keeping your technology and processes in tune with your ever changing environment will help drive efficiencies and make your business run as smooth as possible.

3. Create a technology group
Your people are one of your biggest assets.  They can also provide unique visibility into your systems and processes.  Ask for volunteers for a technology and process committee.  You’ll find out quickly which employees are genuinely invested in the health of your company.  Pick people from all departments, no matter what level of IT know how they have.

4. Security, security, security 
Security is the hottest topic in business IT conversations.  With recent data breaches, businesses can expect to lose clients just as fast as they lose data.  Putting your own security practices under constant scrutiny will help keep you as protected as possible. 

5. Think like your customers and employees
Take a look at your company from the outside.  Put your feet in the shoes of your customers.  Or if you don’t necessarily have direct customers, put yourself in the mind of your users.  How easy is it for the user to operate?  What will their experience be?  Does it make business sense to spend time and money on enhancing their experience?

6. Weigh advantages, not just cost
Getting caught up on cost can obscure your view to advantages.  Surprisingly, the advantages in many cases can justify the cost and even show you a return on investment with new efficiencies.  Talk to an engineer or a consultant to identify inefficiencies and determine what the resulting fix will do for you versus the overall cost.  Cost/benefit analyses exercises can help.  

7. Don't be afraid of adoption of new technology
Successful installation and adoption of new technology can sometimes steer you away from implementing new technology.  It may seem like you are taking the plunge by considering different technology.  Just make sure to ask for detailed installation, support, and training services provided by the vendor.  

8. Talk to your peer businesses
Chances are, if the technology exists, someone is already using it.  Most businesses have “Business Friends” or Peers that they trade stories with.  Open up a dialog with some of your non-competitive business peers and talk about what has and has not worked for them.  You may be surprised to find that you have some of the same experiences with technology.