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IT Assessments and Why Every Business Needs One

IT is a term and basic backbone of any business that is often taken for granted. It’s assumed to be working just fine because the business seems to be operating just fine – and very well may be. Just as humans can’t function properly without a healthy spine, giving the IT backbone a health checkup is a necessity for every business.

First, a definition: Information Technology (IT) is the use of computers, storage, networking, and other physical devices, infrastructure, and processes to create, process, store, secure, and exchange all forms of electronic data and information.

So it makes sense that if IT is not healthy, the business is not healthy. As technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, it makes sense that a thorough inspection of this backbone is completed on a regular basis.

IT Assessments: Benefits of an Outside Perspective

Maybe a business is running smoothly, but there might be symptoms that have not surfaced yet that could indicate problems to come. With IT being so mission-critical to how businesses operate, having an outside party provide a holistic assessment of systems, processes, and resources within the department makes solid business sense.

It’s also a chance to review the strategies that got the IT department to where it is, current strategies, and strategies for the future. The examination of those forward-looking strategies, based upon where IT is currently at, can be invaluable to the performance of IT and the business down the road.

It’s amazing how an outside perspective can shine a light on areas and issues that internal teams might have blinders to. Often, internal IT teams – and business leadership – are amazed at insights that are revealed that would have never come about from an internal audit.

Some benefits of an IT assessment include:

  • Illuminating areas in IT strategy and systems where gaps are present (does a business have proper cybersecurity and data security measures in place; if a breach were to occur, what does the disaster remediation plan look like?)

  • Identifying where the IT department is strong; but, more importantly, seeing where weaknesses exist that can be addressed with changes to processes, systems, resources, and people.

  • Examining existing hardware and software systems to determine if it is still the right choice for 1, 2, 5, or 10 years into the future. What works today may not be scalable in the near or distant future.

The IT Assessment Process

While it sounds daunting, a solid managed services provider will clearly outline the IT assessment process. The steps are fairly straightforward:

  1. Lay out a plan and initiate the assessment process.

  2. Gather data.

  3. Provide benchmarks within the industry (and from outside industries) and determine where gaps exist.

  4. Propose a new IT strategy, augmenting the good of existing strategies and removing barriers in old or current strategies.

Part of any IT assessment requires an audit of existing IT infrastructure, strategy, and resources. The best audits require teamwork and cooperation between the managed services provider and the business, particularly its IT leads and key IT employees.

Some key questions that an IT assessment firm will ask, and that the business needs to provide, include:

  • Are there obvious trouble areas that are causing inefficiencies, maybe data silos that are hampering proper reporting and communication?

  • Depending on the type of business, is the business complying with all regulations – HIPAA for healthcare organizations; GDPR for businesses with operations overseas; CJIS for government entities; PCI for credit card transactions?

  • Is the business all cloud or operating in a hybrid mode? In either case, it’s important to determine what systems are in the cloud and which are on-premise. Are all software programs up to date?

  • Are cybersecurity, data security, and system and data recovery protocols in place?

  • Are IT teams regularly trained, and are new IT employees onboarded properly?

How We Do IT Assessments

Strategic Solutions NW has an entire team dedicated to IT assessment services. It’s an interactive process that examines IT strategy and aligns IT capabilities with business requirements. The goal is to enhance existing business strategies and provide new strategies that focus on sustainable value, maximizing return on IT investments.

Please see our case study with Vigo Industrial, a privately-owned ship repair and fabrication company, to see how our IT services team assessed existing business applications, IT infrastructure, organization, and governance, as well as addressing issues with the help desk and other controls.

Vigor Industrial was so pleased with the work, the company hired us to take on its transition to a new ERP system, developing a full technical infrastructure and mapping a path for future integrations and workflows. Because we dialed in their IT systems, the move to a new ERP system was seamless and more cost-effective.

Learn more about our IT assessment services, or contact us today for a free consultation to get started.

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