Two business professionals look at a computer monitor and discuss an issue. A woman points at the computer monitor and talks with a female colleague.
A technology audit may sound intimidating to carry out, but you can use the findings to strengthen your business by patching security vulnerabilities and improving its efficiency. — Getty Images/Luis Alvarez

Technology plays a role in nearly all business operations. Indeed, a U.S. Chamber of Commerce study found that 93% of small business owners are “using at least one type of technology platform to help run their business.” Yet, as your company grows, it’s essential to derive maximum value from your tech investments.

A technology audit assesses your tech stack and processes. Auditing your technologies helps you effectively use your applications and budget. It can uncover security vulnerabilities and growth opportunities. Learn what an information technology (IT) audit involves and how to perform a basic evaluation.

What is a technology audit?

An IT audit examines your infrastructure, applications, policies, and procedures. It provides an inventory of every system and hardware used on- or off-site, including costs, users, and processes. A technology audit ties each tech component to a specific business goal, like increasing operational efficiency or improving customer retention.

A comprehensive assessment considers how your approach compares to best practices and recognized standards. It may look at guidelines provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the PCI Security Standards Council, or the International Organization for Standardization.

After completing a technology audit, you better understand your systems and processes. More than that, you can create a blueprint for future investments, patch security vulnerabilities, and eliminate ineffective tools.

[Read more: 7 Technologies to Help You Run Your Business From Anywhere]

A comprehensive assessment considers how your approach compares to best practices and recognized standards.

Why should a small business complete an IT audit?

Technology investments can boost your company’s performance. Indeed, Microsoft found that more than 30% of small and midsized business owners believe technology helps increase operational efficiency, improve sales and marketing, and retain customers. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce saw concrete evidence of success, as 84% of small business owners using six or more technology platforms increased profits compared to 65% of entrepreneurs using one or fewer applications.

Yet, Microsoft noted that “SMBs spend between 6% and 10% of their revenue on technology. Roughly a third of SMBs are high technology spenders and invest more than 16% of their revenue in IT.” With this type of expense, it’s vital to understand where your money goes and ensure that it’s well spent.

Other benefits of performing an IT audit include:

  • Identifying security weaknesses and informing your cybersecurity efforts.
  • Determining the effectiveness of all tools.
  • Pinpointing technology gaps and upskilling opportunities.
  • Ensuring emergency readiness and advising your disaster recovery plan.
  • Satisfying data and financial standards.

Do you need professional assistance?

Small businesses can perform a basic IT audit to understand their tech stack. However, as your company grows and systems become more complex, you may want a comprehensive technology audit. Since this is time-intensive and requires specialized knowledge, many organizations work with professional auditors. A managed service provider can assist by assessing your network infrastructure, security, and more. IT auditors will suggest solutions for meeting industry-specific regulations and improving security weaknesses.

[Read more: Investing in Tech: How to Decide on the Technology Your Startup Needs]

Basic steps for assessing your tech stack

A technology audit is a project. Therefore, a project management system with document storage and communication capabilities keeps your team on the same page. Ideally, you can refer to your technology audit and insights when purchasing new technologies or troubleshooting business problems.

Here’s how you can perform a simple technology audit:

  • Understand your business goals: Pull out your business plan and speak with department leaders to define your current objectives and needs.
  • Define the technology audit’s scope: Decide how narrow or broad your focus will be. Will you assess all networks and hardware or only software applications? Are you prioritizing security or operational improvements?
  • Create assessment checklists: Each technology group should have a list of information to document, like serial numbers, licensing agreements, and security data. Develop separate lists for evaluating costs and effectiveness.
  • Take stock of your tech stack: Document each technology your company uses, including software, network devices, and backup systems.
  • Map processes and policies: Connect each component to business goals, procedures, policies, and users. Highlight integrations between applications.
  • Engage staff: Discuss the user experience, cost versus value, and potential technological gaps hindering your progress.
  • Develop insights: Look for improvement areas, such as consolidating platforms or replacing systems. Identify technology gaps or security weaknesses, and create a blueprint for future investments.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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