Have you ever been offered an IT health check by an external company, or do you have an in-house IT Department that regularly reviews your systems? How in-depth do you think these investigations should be? What do you think should be the result of this investigative work?
The IT world is often seen in a negative light due to its focus purely on technology and a perceived lack of understanding of businesses and their processes. This is demonstrated by the often “free” IT health checks on offer. The focus is on the hardware and related network, and not on the business and it’s use of technology to run its processes. These are often a great source of technical information, but only deal in a limited area of your business.
Ask yourself: Would you benefit from someone external looking at some of the elements below?
- Business Process: What are your processes? Are they either supported by your current technology, or could they be better supported by introducing appropriate technology?
- CRM/ERP and other Databases: What are you using to store data? Can you mine management information from it to make decisions about staff and business performance? Can you do this quickly or do you need lots of offline systems to generate information? Do all your staff input the appropriate information thus making it a valuable business asset?
- Technology: Mobile phones, landlines, broadband, servers, websites, software… What do you have? Is it stable and safe? What is the opportunity cost in maintaining it? Is it fit for purpose? Is it doing what it is designed to do, or doing what you think it can do and have time to do?
- Budgets: What are you spending? Are you overspending or underspending?
- Contracts: Are they value for money? Are they being managed proactively? Are you getting the right levels of support day to day, and how would your supplier react in an emergency?
- Training: Do your staff know how to get the best out of their systems? Are they as competitive as they can be?
- Social Media: What are you doing to make the most appropriate use of this medium and how can it help you increase sales and improve your market share?
- Compliance: Are you compliant in terms of software and other IT-related functions?
- Website: Is your site doing the job it was designed to do, what else could it do to streamline your processes and improve your customers’ experiences? What has changed in the web world since you launched that you may benefit from?
- Disaster Recovery: What would your business do during a power outage? How would your suppliers react to server downtime? Are your systems backed up sufficiently? Do you have a plan B, not just for the server, but for the staff?
Once these areas have been investigated, you should receive a road map which identifies costs and time frames, and cultural impact of the recommended changes. Remember IT changes because it is told to (press Enter!), humans need a little more convincing!
If you are offered a health check, and it is simply looking at security, or server capacity, consider that these are simply some (granted important) areas for consideration. But as these areas support your business, your business is the part that needs the scrutiny in order for any consultant to really advise you on a road map for best practice and growth.