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January 31, 2023
4 Min Read
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For IT decision-makers, there will come a time when they should seek an external opinion regarding steps that should be taken to modernize IT architectures based on business goals. Infrastructure audits conducted by third-party consultants are a way to examine existing technologies and operating practices so they can better provide guidance. One unfortunate side effect of this audit process is that it can create a sense of apprehension for in-house staff who may initially be unwilling to embrace it. Let’s look at where these problems arise and how IT managers can properly set the stage when preparing for an infrastructure audit.
What Does an Infrastructure Audit Consist Of?
Given the growing reliance on technology for most businesses today, staying ahead of the competition is an important part of ensuring that outdated technologies and processes can be identified with alternative solutions that help strengthen current business goals along with new goals that C-suite executives wish to embrace. In many cases, certain technologies or inefficient processes can handcuff organizations or expose them to unnecessary risk.
Most IT infrastructure auditors use a straightforward process where existing systems, networks, and applications are reviewed to ensure that a business can cohesively utilize them and to ensure that the organization is not painted into a corner when looking at the prospect of future goals. Auditors will request a list of technologies that are used in production today and what features/functionality are incorporated. Additionally, the auditing team will request meetings with IT engineering and support staff as well as staff from other departments so they can assess whether a technology is producing optimal results. The outcome of the audit typically comes in the form of a written or verbal (or both) analysis of the entire infrastructure and provides insights regarding what is working and what can be improved upon.
Existing Processes Aren’t Necessarily Wrong
When describing the need for an infrastructure audit that’s conducted by an external consulting company, some in-house IT members may think that the need for it is because IT management believes they are doing something wrong. Because of this, IT managers should be sure to make the case up-front that the purpose of the audit is simply to put fresh eyes on technologies and process flows to help figure out how to create better efficiencies within their working environment.
The key point to highlight here is that consulting companies can tap into their vast experience gained through working with other enterprise clients which makes them more adept at understanding what processes and procedures work better than others. The job of the auditors is not to pick on existing processes and point out that there’s something wrong with what is being done today. Rather, it’s to highlight options to consider that have shown a proven track record within other organizations.
Recommended Replacement of Technologies
At the end of an infrastructure audit, it’s common for consultants to suggest replacing one or more technologies with another. For those that work exclusively with a certain technology and are highly proficient with them, there might be some trepidation regarding the suggestion that their technology be replaced with another. In some situations, it can lead some IT members to feel that migrating to -- or completely eliminating certain technologies -- is a sign that their skills will soon no longer be needed. It’s the job of the IT manager to dissuade these types of thoughts and to point out that new skills in new or existing technologies are a way for administrators and engineers to broaden and modernize their existing skills.
The Buck Stops With Us
The most important factor that should be instilled in IT staff is that the results of the audit and future roadmap are conducted and approved by the entire team. The guidance provided by the auditors are recommendations -- but acting on those recommendations is an internal process. Any suggestions that come from the audit process will be reviewed and assessed internally and only portions of it acted upon. Reminding staff that this is a team effort, and the audit is just one aspect of the decision-making process, helps to refine how their efforts can be used to propel the organization to new heights.
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About the Author(s)
President & Lead Network Architect, West Gate Networks
Andrew has well over a decade of enterprise networking under his belt through his consulting practice, which specializes in enterprise network architectures and datacenter build-outs and prior experience at organizations such as State Farm Insurance, United Airlines and the University of Chicago Medical Center. Having lived and worked in South East Asia for nearly three years, Andrew possesses a unique international business and technology perspective. When he's not consulting, Andrew enjoys writing technical blogs and is the author of two Cisco certification study guides published by Sybex.
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