Technology Auditing: Yes you should be doing it!

I often speak to business executives around how they are managing their technology departments and I ask them questions for example: What technology do you have in place? How is it managed? How do you know if you are getting a good return on investment? What is the budget? Then it dawns on them how little they actually know about technology and how to manage their own technology resources.

Now, most of them will also say that they don't care how it works as long as it works, they don't want to hear about it, and they will deal with technology related issues one at a time as they come up. The fact of the matter is that technology management or poor technology management can make your business a lot of money, or it can cost you a lot of money, rarely is it something in-between. The problem is that most businesses do not track technology performance properly, and it does not show up on the financial statement so these costs get lost, and the technology department is measure on perception rather than actual values to the business as it relates to productivity, return on investment, process management and more.

The question now is; so how do you manage and evaluate your technology investment, processes, and develop a technology strategic plan? The first step is that business owners have to understand that technology is part of their business, it is not a cost of doing business any longer, it should be managed, budgeted, and held accountable just as any other department within your business. There are actually technology standard, measures and matrixes that can be used to measure your processes and technology effectiveness. These standards are published by the IT Governance Institute, CoBIT, and the Information Systems Audit and Control Association.

I perform about 20 technology audits a year around 22 specific business areas using the standards of CoBIT which focuses on technology framework. The CoBIT framework focuses on areas which can help determine what technology you have in place, is it likely to achieve your business objectives, is it adaptable, reduces risk, improves security and recognizes opportunities for improvement. When you think about the expectations for technology within businesses today we are really talking about how we are going to provide information that businesses need to reach successful business objectives, based on your investment, management and control of IT resources using a structured set of processes to provide IT services that can deliver information to the needed business areas.

Technology auditing has many advantages and should deliver on many objectives that are important to the overall success of your technology plan. To examine that let's take a quick high level look at seven areas that are critical to your technology success as CoBIT would outline them.

  • Effectiveness: are you spending money on technology that it pertinent to your business processes, which would include are you maximizing the technology investment you already have made? Are they being delivered in a timely, effective, and useable manner?

  • Efficiency: Are your technology resources being delivered in the most productive, economical and user friendly processes? Security and Confidentiality: Are you protecting sensitive information from unauthorized disclosure both internally and externally?

  • Integrity: Is your information correct, complete and being delivered in a manner that meets your business values and expectations? Availability: Is the business information available when the business requires it and how are you safe guarding your resources?

  • Compliance: Are you complying with all local and federal laws such as software licensing, contractual requirements, and what are the policies and processes that are in place to insure ongoing compliancy?

  • Reliability: Is the system reliable, does it provide the necessary business information to run and manage the business now and in the future?

Technology auditing could be mission critical to your organization; it is something that could save your organization thousands of dollars a year because technology and technology management is one of the great misunderstood areas. Along with the fact that most technical people who find themselves in a management position don't understand business objectives such as Technology Framework, Control Objectives, Management Guidelines, Maturity Models, and Budgeting around a technology strategic plan it can be very costly to your organization, however it is something that can be fixed. I encourage all our customers, prospects and people that hear me speak around the country to do technology auditing, because sometimes it is what you don't know about your technology that could cost you your competitive advantage.

About the author: Scott Lewis is the President and CEO of Winning Technologies Group of Companies. The Winning Technologies Group of companies is made up of Winning Technologies, Xpress Host, Lingo Communications, and Investigative Protection Services. Scott has more than 27 years of experience in the technology industry, is a nationally recognized speaker on technology subjects such as Collocation, Security, CIO level Management, Data and Voice Communications and Best Practices related to the management of technology resources.
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