Performing an all-purpose IT audit can be a great way to kick off a partnership with a managed services provider. An audit will help you and the MSP understand how technology is currently impacting your business and identify potential strategies for improvement moving forward. A good MSP doesn’t just sell you technology and support it, it will also serve as a consultant that helps you maximize value creation through IT innovation. An effective audit lays the foundation for success here, but not every audit is created equal.
Five traits you should look for when engaging in an IT audit side-by-side with an MSP include:
1. Asset inventory analysis is performed
Don’t settle for only basic asset management as you work to develop a partnership with an MSP. Taking a complete audit of your assets – not just billable items, but also infrastructure, bandwidth, and personal mobile devices that will interact with the network – is essential. This nuanced view of every system that is costing you money, creating potential value or accessing corporate data is critical for a variety of processes, including:
- Identifying unnecessary expenses within the configuration.
- Developing strategies to manage equipment over its entire service life and keep warranty and decommissioning processes under control.
- Monitoring the network to identify rogue devices or anomalous activities as part of data protection strategies.
- Projecting use of different equipment and bandwidth resources to align near-future strategies with demand.
Understanding your assets is critical in maximizing the value of your technology, and IT asset management processes go a long way in getting an MSP relationship off to a good start.
2. Regulatory compliance is assessed, but not treated as the focus
You don’t want an audit to be all about regulatory compliance – it’s important, but you also want to make sure an MSP is assessing how to maximize value creation in your IT configuration. That said, regulatory concerns are critical in a wide range of industries and having a third-party come in and audit your processes can help you pin down where you may be falling short and how you can move forward.
3. The network big picture gets plenty of attention
The network is becoming one of the focal points of the modern enterprise. Cloud apps, video content, media-rich unified communications tools, big data, widespread mobile device use and the Internet of Things are all coming together to put incredible pressure on enterprise connectivity architectures. Organizations don’t just need a solid WAN and good LAN anymore. Rather, their WAN must be able to handle more data than ever and support content like voice and video that is averse to packet loss. LANs must provide backhaul for multiple layers of Wi-Fi connectivity that support mission-critical apps and guests.
“Few things will hold back innovation more than network limitations.”
All of these issues add up to make the network a key part of competing as a business, and making sure it gets plenty of attention in an audit is critical. The bandwidth and architectural attributes of your network will play a huge role in helping MSPs identify how different technologies will impact your business, and few things will hold back innovation more than connectivity systems that can’t adequately support apps and services.
4. Cloud services get put under the microscope
In some ways, implementing cloud apps has become much easier. Service providers have service catalogs that your business managers can access and purchase from without necessarily getting IT involved. This leads to shadow IT spending and can contribute to cloud sprawl – a situation where you are spending on so many cloud apps and services that you either can’t manage them effectively or are paying for subscriptions that few, if any workers are using.
MSPs with expertise in cloud migration services can help you identify how cloud services are impacting your business – for good or ill – and provide vital consultation to help you refine your cloud strategies and maximize ROI. This is only possible, however, if auditors take the time to analyze your current cloud situation.
5. Recommendations are actionable
An audit is never complete without a clear report of what was discovered and what should be done moving forward. Make sure the MSP you plan to work with is performing analysis that is actionable for your business, not just going to point you toward spending money – whether or not you can afford it. A good audit should come away with a blend of operational recommendations and technologies that could solve problems. These actionable recommendations make the time and effort spent to dig into the nuances of your configuration worthwhile.
An effective partnership with an MSP begins with an audit that looks at the technological big picture in your business. The audit will set the baseline for where your company is now, helping you work with the MSP to determine a future roadmap and mix and match operational improvements with technological investment to drive value creation.