Why do an IT Infrastructure Audit?
In our latest feature we explore the value and importance for small to medium enterprise businesses of doing an IT Infrastructure Audit. A few years ago I was approached by COO of a financial services company to respond to a RFP to do an IT Infrastructure Audit for his business. He had been appointed to his role 6 months earlier and he had inherited an IT environment that was supported by another IT Services Provider.
He had been advised prior to his appointment that the company had made a significant investment in their IT infrastructure to support their plans for growth and expansion. However, since his appointment he had noticed several servicing, performance and productivity issues related to the company’s investment in this area.
In the following fiscal year the COO was planning to replace the company’s current CRM technology with an alternative solution that would be based “in-house” at the time to accommodate the preferences of the clients and direction of the industry as a whole.
As my case point my clients concerns were twofold:
Business productivity; and
The security of his company’s IT environment.
So there are a number of reasons to conduct an audit:
The servers installed are properly configured for both security and efficiency;
Identifying hardware and software that are impacting upon productivity;
Identifying reasons as to why outages and downtime are occurring;
Efficacy of back-ups and confirmation as to the adequacy as to how these are managed and monitored;
Adequacy of security measures in dealing with viruses, spyware, firewalls, encryption, and internet intrusions; and
The appropriate of the software licensing installed. 
The age of the hardware and software in your business can have a definite impact upon your businesses own productivity. Recently I caught two of my technical resources discussing the need to upgrade video cards on some older desktops on a client site. The time involved in assessing performance of a desktop, ordering the part, and installing it would have been more wisely spent on purchasing a new desktop.
This is just an example where sometimes it does not make sense to stay with older technology. This being said it can affect your competitive context and positioning in the market place.
It is important to have your infrastructure configured according to the hardware and software specifications. Has this been done correctly for you? The aim of IT infrastructure audit is to compare your current network architecture to the industry standard. This process allows us to identify deficiencies in business productivity and potential risks for your business.
What do we recommend?
In essence an audit is snapshot of the current capabilities of your network at a point in time that may be effecting the performance of IT infrastructure and your business as a whole.
Therefore an IT Infrastructure Audit should cover the following:
Asset listing of your hardware to support budgeting, planning and management;
A list of software installed on each machine;
Appropriateness of hardware in each machine and how this impacts upon performance;
The version of operating system, security, and patching done;
Analysis of the network design;
Server hardware: appropriateness, performance, and levels of redundancy;
Analysis of the security environment (software, policies and procedures); and
Back-up systems: hardware, software, data management, and disaster recovery planning. 
These are important considerations to ensure that your businesses IT infrastructure improves productivity and minimizes risks for your business.