Whether small or large, all business success revolves around maximising profits by minimising unnecessary expenditure. Frustrations with technology, or a simple inability to accurately quantify available resources, may mean that businesses are purchasing new computer hardware, software and services unnecessarily. The best way to avoid such expenditure is to properly understand available resources and usage, through conducting an IT systems audit.
There are three main areas of focus when conducting an IT systems audit – hardware, software and services.
Whilst reviewing hardware, an audit will consider factors such as:
- Capacity of systems to meet current and future demands.
- Older systems that cause process bottlenecks, and have wider cost implications.
- Service history to identify machines that are failing or which cost too much to maintain.
- Server platforms and services that could be migrated to the Cloud to provide long-term cost savings, such as file storage.
The tools used by employees on their computers is another potential drain on capital, so an audit should consider:
- The applications in use across the company.
- Tools that are redundant or underused and that could be dropped.
- Outdated, unsupported software that fails to deliver.
- Older applications that could be replaced by a more cost-effective Cloud-based alternative.
The final consideration is the add-on services that accompany IT spend:
- Over-specified support contracts for unnecessary services that could be cancelled.
- Overpriced contracts that need to be renegotiated or sourced from an alternative supplier.
- Maintenance agreements intended to cover hardware or software that is no longer in use, but which have never been cancelled.
The real value of an IT systems audit
A good IT systems audit is about more than more than simply counting the number of computers, laptops, printers and software your business owns – it should also help you understand:
- Where resources are overused and need to be upgraded or replaced.
- Where resources are underused and could take some of the load from other systems.
- Where systems are redundant and could be retired.
- How long your current systems will continue to deliver on strategic business goals.
- Where alternative applications or Cloud systems could help reduce capital expenditure and provide a permanent, cost-effective upgrade path.
Using this information you will then be able to build an IT roadmap that helps you better budget for the future and ensures that money is not being wasted. The IT audit is also an incredibly valuable tool for helping understand the available capabilities and capacity which are being underutilised. Rather than purchasing new systems, business owners may find that re-training staff in working slightly differently, or using previously ignored functionality may yield larger returns over the longer term.
Auditing should be a relatively regular part of your IT management provisions, ensuring that expensive and possibly unnecessary like-for-like hardware replacement is not an automatic action. Well minimised, this will help maintain profit levels and prevent bad habits or practices becoming an ingrained part of your business culture.
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