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. Especially after a large install. Even if you have accomplished all of your IT changes for this year, your journey is not over. Rather, it’s a constant re-assessment of your IT environment and processes. The hardest part is that taking a step back from your IT environment and reviewing your progress can sometimes be a difficult task for businesses.
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. Review Your Business Process
If your technology is currently not providing what you need, you may need to look at your overall business process to see what changes need to be addressed. Business drives technology. So if your business processes are in place, they will guide your technology infrastructure. Overlooked or sloppy business process will result in sporadic IT purchases. Kind of like plugging individual holes in a dam rather than reinforcing the entire structure.
5. Attend Technology Conferences
I will also add attending technology webinars to this as well. You can’t think about what to implement if you don’t know what exists. Make yourself available to attend (and pay attention to) webinars for new technology. Invite your newly formed technology committee to watch them. Have a review session with your committee and get their input on where that technology may fit in your business.
6. Be Open Minded
One of the biggest faults in the IT industry is being close minded to new technology. The “We’re all set.” approach can make you miss out on new tools that make you and your employee’s job easier and more efficient. Try to be open to all new possibilities. You never know which ones will help propel your company to the next level. Use this approach when choosing which technology shows and webinars to attend.
7. Think Like Your Customers/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?
8. 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.
9. Don’t Be Afraid 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. This is also a good time to lean on your IT service provider for environmental preparation and support resources.
10. Talk To Your Peer Business
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. Our nVision 2015 technology conference is a great resource for this as well.
Hopefully I was able to give you some helpful ideas on how to approach performing an IT self-assessment. For more information about IT Self-Assessments, to have our company perform an official assessment, or to talk to a consultant, please contact Network Center, Inc.