Digital transformation starts with a comprehensive assessment of your IT architectures. An IT infrastructure assessment reviews and analyzes the effectiveness of your current technology systems. It is the beginning of a critical process toward the future state of your IT tools, models, and workflows, and a critical roadmap toward a more agile and innovative organization. Why should you start your 2021 with an infrastructure assessment and what steps are necessary to create it?
Goals of an IT infrastructure assessment
Futurism reports that U.S. businesses lose $21.8 million annually due to IT downtime. They suggest reactive IT business models repair outages but fail to assess the infrastructure to determine the root cause of potential failure before it occurs. This is especially true of smaller organizations that lack the IT horsepower to take on a more proactive approach to their infrastructure.
An IT infrastructure assessment can be part of a corporate strategic initiative, such as:
- Digital transformation
- Recovery after a significant service outage or security breach
- Creation of a baseline for a new CIO
- A business case for new technologies
- Part of a financial planning process
There also are red flags that can signal an assessment is necessary. For example, typical red flags include IT management challenges such as:
- Too many manual data-related processes (e.g., re-keying or other janitorial human efforts)
- Redundant, underutilized, legacy platforms that lack streamlined interoperability
- Data housed in multiple channels without a single source of truth
- Workarounds, hacks, and temporary fixes that may work, but are highly inefficient
Enterprise organizations typically struggle with some, and sometimes all, of these issues. An IT infrastructure review is an important first step toward proactively streamlining these tools in a way that maximizes their value while modernizing the entire architecture.
What to include in your IT infrastructure review
Any IT infrastructure review starts with analysis and ends with an implementation strategy. There are four primary steps in this process:
- Create the current state IT baseline. What does your end-to-end IT architecture look like? The chances are high that you’re working with an outdated schematic, so a current state evaluation could take some time. This process should include:
- A current organizational chart for all IT functional responsibilities.
- Technical data to include server and storage configurations, software inventories, and an accurate network infrastructure.
- Real-world budgets with capital, depreciation, contractual commitments, and external facilities costs, including those from a remote workforce.
- Service-level data for compliance, disaster recovery, and ITIL.
- Prepare accurate cost documents that include not only the existing state, but also an analysis and recommendations for opportunities to improve.
- Track, explore, and assess your IT delivery models, whether they are outsourced, cloud, on-premise, or whatever current combination exists. Identify roadblocks to changing the current models, such as existing contracts, preferred vendors, or other stakeholder buy-in issues.
- Assess your options with the goals of a more efficient whole, more commonly called “digital transformation.” Set the costing goal as TCO, or the total cost of ownership to create a more accurate roadmap. Make sure your final recommendation includes redundancy and disaster recovery across the architecture.
While these steps look good on paper, we’ve found the process to miss critical red flags that could render your assumptions invalid. Here are some suggestions to ensure the accuracy of an IT infrastructure assessment.
Tips for an effective IT infrastructure assessment
Filling in the blanks on an IT assessment isn’t enough. Consideration must be given to red flags and hidden agendas, such as technology staff that need reskilling or a legacy platform that a few critical people continue to covet. Consider some of the following questions when conducting your IT infrastructure assessment:
- What indirect and hidden costs do these assessments uncover, such as maintenance, downtime, or training that will occur when new platforms or software are introduced?
- What is the total cost of ownership of legacy platforms?
- Do you have capacity or functionality requirements that your current IT technologies will not fulfill?
- How much time is spent on daily IT operations and keeping the lights on over more strategic projects?
- What do internal customers experience with legacy platforms? What workflows are redundant or manual and what could be automated? How well does service delivery meet their expectations?
- Strive to understand the total cost of ownership of each service or tool. For example, labor costs should include benefits, mileage, HR, and so on.
- How will any changes to your IT architecture affect your organizational culture? What will be the roadblocks to these changes?
Ultimately, the IT evaluation should seek to spot any misalignment of technology against the overarching strategic business goal of the organization. An IT assessment is the first step in a proactive effort to improve the efficiency of your infrastructure. It will do more than cut costs and streamline workflows, it will position the organization in a way that limits business disruptions in the future.
Check out our IT Assessment Checklist for a structured approach to assessing your existing state and preparing for the future. Need help evaluating your existing infrastructures and processes? Let the experts at The Windsor Group Sourcing Advisory guide you. We will work closely with IT leadership to conduct IT infrastructure assessments, then implement the changes necessary to achieve your goals. To learn more, visit us at windzr.com.