When buying a new piece of real estate, it is a universally accepted practice to hire an assessor to inspect the property prior to purchase. These assessments check for issues ranging from foundational deterioration to improper safety practices. One of the core tenets for inspections like this is to take an objective, third-party look at the situation without the vested interest associated with direct involvement. Unbiased perspectives can provide a more comprehensive and less skewed perspective on the situation, arming all involved with actionable knowledge.
In the realm of information technology, assessments are equally as critical. They check for many of these same violations and attempt to provide comparable value. A strong IT foundation is core for any modern organization, whether it be private or public. An IT assessment can help narrow down the inefficiencies within an environment while simultaneously reducing security risk and increasing IT value.
Examining the Foundation
When we talk about IT assessments, we are specifically focusing on a holistic, third-party evaluation of the most critical IT components. IT is a large domain, encompassing everything ranging from cybersecurity to end-user experience. An IT assessment generally takes the perspectives of different stakeholders into account, evaluating the environment via a large array of inputs. By coupling evaluation technology (penetration tests, vulnerability scans, endpoint analysis) with these stakeholder perspectives, a full picture of the IT situation can begin to form. Validating the health, finances, and satisfaction of your organization’s IT can help prompt significant changes that alleviate both headaches and risk factors.
IT – Who is Really Responsible?
Information technology is generally prone to “passing the buck,” especially in regard to legacy systems and cybersecurity flaws. Very, very rarely is the original design of a network up to current standards. These issues compound exponentially as organizations experience growth. A shaky foundation with an oversized environment on top generally leads to major instability. Owners and stakeholders are not able to claim full responsibility due to a large array of limiting factors. An IT assessment helps clear the clutter associated with a network, providing an objective view of the situation without the messy association of roles, politics, and blind-spots.
Shadow IT is a term for the apps, tools, accounts, and software that are used “under the radar.” These solutions usually fulfill a need by the users but remain completely unmanaged by IT and present a wide range of financial and security risks. Taking the time to check, even just once a year, can reveal a huge array of tools that are used without any leadership being aware. An IT assessment takes a look at the management of current solutions to ensure that proper centralized monitoring is configured to keep an eye on what is actually happening on an organization’s devices. Unknown solutions can lead to redundant spending, inefficiency, training gaps, and even security exposure risks.
IT is Not Optional
We have reached a point in technology that makes it impossible to create a clear delineation between IT and business. For example, if the business portion of an organization needs to clearly track customers, then it is nearly a guarantee that an IT solution will be utilized. This mandatory integration has made it impossible to hide one’s head in the sand regarding IT issues and risks. Operational expenses can rapidly spiral out of control as specialized solutions are adopted by individual units within an organization. By taking the initiative and evaluating an IT setup, the leaders and stakeholders of an organization can get a handle on their current solution set. Reducing IT spending is a major benefit associated with high-quality IT assessments.
Compliance – The Ultimate Motivation
It is simply a fact that most organizations will neglect an assessment regardless of the consistent, universal message that assessments are critical. This is where compliance requirements come into play. Compliance mandates are usually derived from significant cybersecurity events or universal IT issues. These compliance frameworks serve to outline specific recommendations that ensure organizations avoid the pitfalls of predecessors. An IT compliance audit is a more focused approach to the standard Assessment structure. These audits generally focus on a more rigid set of standards and requirements than standard assessments, providing objective overviews of an organization’s compliance posture and associated recommendations. A compliance assessment provides the starting point necessary to effectively begin compliance revamps.
We wholeheartedly believe in the concept of regular IT assessments to further enable the goals of an organization. IT assessments help gauge the true status of your environment while providing actionable intelligence on issues facing your team. These are objective, “no-blame” evaluations that only seek positive change rather than assigning guilt. IT teams that have undergone an assessment understand the value that it provides their team. In fact, IT teams are usually the biggest proponents of continued annual reviews after the first assessment is completed.
It is generally accepted that annual IT assessments are a best practice for organizations of all sizes and industries. There are specific requirements for specific industries (CMMC, HIPAA, SOX, NIST, DFARS, etc.) that can help guide the assessment, but they all generally recommend similar best practices. An IT assessment is the best way to get a grip on an IT ecosystem and provide the necessary documentation and knowledge to take focused action. For those with a soft spot for advertising clichés, we always tell clients that an IT assessment is something that they can’t afford NOT to purchase.