with IT services providers can be invaluable to small and medium enterprises,
because it can help to ensure that IT systems are kept up-to-date, and that
equipment, processes and services evolve as technology does. This can be vital
for protecting data, minimising downtime and keeping things ticking along as
Unfortunately, too many incumbent providers simply suggest like-for-like equipment replacements, or simple upgrades. By contrast, a good provider will carry out a comprehensive IT audit, reviewing the way your systems and processes work, while getting to know your business, your requirements, your objectives and your problems.
They will also take the time to understand what you have now, where you are trying to get to and the steps along the way. In this article, we take a closer look at the reasons why your small business IT support should include an audit.
Why You Need an Audit
Today’s businesses rely on their IT systems more than ever before, but as IT has grown, so have the threats associated with it. For example, social engineering attacks are on the rise, while the modern reliance on data has left businesses open to potential problems with data breaches, which can severely damage your reputation if it occurs to you.
On top of these cyber security threats, business continuity now increasingly relies upon IT systems being up and running at all times, making disaster recovery critical. Of course, on top of all this, you also need to stay up-to-date with the latest hardware and software, in order to prevent rivals from gaining a competitive advantage.
For many companies, however, the reality of working with IT services providers involves “rip and replace” scenarios, where the provider tears up current systems and processes, only to replace like-for-like, perhaps with slight upgrades. In reality, what you need is a provider that understands your business and where you are trying to go.
Knowing Your Business
In order to get to know your business and carry out the audit successfully, the provider offering small business IT support will need to take the time to analyse the IT systems currently in place, as well as the overall IT environment.
As an article for TechTarget points out, part of this will include evaluating how you are currently keeping data secure and identifying the level of risk you are exposed to. It will also involve coming up with ways to mitigate that risk, analysing the security and access procedures, and identifying any other inefficiencies that may exist along the way.
Of course, a significant part of any good audit will involve assessing your IT disaster recovery and business continuity solutions, looking for any areas where improvement could potentially protect against downtime or data loss.
However, any high-quality provider carrying out an audit will go beyond this and try to gain an understanding of your business on a more generalised level. This will likely mean learning about what your business does, what your industry is like, what your customers are looking for and what specific challenges you currently face.
Looking Into the Future
Finally, one of the biggest benefits of an IT audit is that it offers you the opportunity to develop a plan which covers now, next and beyond, allowing you to develop a longer-term IT strategy and budget. With technology developing in the way that it does, future-proofing in this area is an unrealistic aim, but being prepared for the future is another matter.
A comprehensive IT audit will allow you and your managed service provider to clearly establish the current state of your business now, where it needs to be in the next phase (in one year, and over the next five years) and where you are looking to be beyond that point (five to ten years from now), so that you can develop a coherent strategy.
For example, if you are anticipating that your business will grow steadily year-on-year, you need to be prepared for the changes that will subsequently be required in terms of managing your IT infrastructure and security protocols. It could also be that you want to transition towards using a technology like cloud computing more in future years, or that you may eventually need to relocate to a new building and will require IT relocation services to do so.
Having an idea of the now, next and beyond can help to ensure that you are not suddenly caught off guard by the need to upgrade systems or change processes. Crucially, it can also challenge the ‘business as usual’ scenario and help you to prepare for both the known and unknown challenges that may pose risks or threats in the future.
The Last Word
An IT audit is designed to assist you in the evaluation of your IT infrastructure, so that you can optimise processes, mitigate risk, minimise disruption, manage any changes that need to be made, and keep your business moving forwards. It is especially important for helping organisations to avoid the ‘business as usual’ mindset.
By working with a high-quality managed service provider, an audit can help you to develop a coherent IT strategy, modernise your IT systems, update practices, and plan for not only the now, but the next phase and beyond too.