IT health check insights for small businesses

practitioner, business health check

In the world of business, much like our own lives, change is the only constant. As we grow, our priorities shift, our habits evolve, and people come and go, altering our perspectives and approaches. What was significant a year ago may no longer hold the same weight, while new challenges suddenly emerge. Small businesses in particular, face the challenge of navigating these changes with limited resources in terms of budget and manpower. In this context, an IT health check becomes an invaluable tool for ensuring your business stays on the right track.

Akin to a medical check-up, it’s a periodic examination to ensure that everything is functioning as it should. It involves having an independent expert review the technology, processes, and systems that your business relies on. The goal is to determine whether they are fit for purpose and capable of supporting your business’s future trajectory. Additionally, the process can uncover latent risks that often go unnoticed in the whirlwind of daily business operations.

The approach to conducting an IT health check can vary widely depending on the nature of your organisation and the specific concerns that prompt the evaluation. For SMEs and not-for-profits reporting to boards, an IT health check provides a baseline assessment of the organisation’s IT capability and maturity across various critical areas, including IT security, governance, compliance, and risk management.

While board members may not grasp all the technical intricacies, they understand the fundamental truth that an organisation cannot thrive with subpar IT infrastructure. They are acutely aware of their potential accountability if IT-related disasters occur.

Typically, an IT health check assesses whether:

  • IT-related policies and procedures are in place to guide appropriate behaviours.
  • Adequate IT risk management practices and controls exist, including those related to cybersecurity, data protection, and privacy.
  • IT infrastructure and assets are adequately protected.
  • Business systems are integrated effectively to support overall operations.
  • Business leaders have timely access to relevant data and insights.
  • Corporate infrastructure is sufficiently protected, with a plan for rapid recovery from outages.
  • Business continuity and disaster recovery practices align with business needs.
  • Technical and process knowledge is retained within the organisation.

One of the most significant enablers of business growth today is effective information and communication technology (ICT). Ironically, it is also one of the least understood and often most overlooked areas when it comes to allocating funds to mitigate IT-related risks.

Many businesses assume that their internal or external IT support teams have everything under control. However, in many cases internal IT teams are often consumed with maintaining essential services, leaving little room for an independent perspective. On the other hand, external IT support teams may be perceived as recommending costly solutions to increase client spending.

This is where the value of an external consultant becomes apparent. Engaging an independent expert to assess your business’s IT maturity, capability, and resilience may feel uncomfortable initially, but it can prevent far more discomfort down the road. By removing internal politics and biases, an external perspective helps CEOs, leadership teams, and boards align on the risks facing the organisation. It facilitates informed discussions about prioritising and funding initiatives to proactively mitigate strategic IT risks, ultimately enhancing the capability and productivity of the entire business.

An IT health check is not a luxury but a necessity for small businesses with limited resources. It guides informed decision-making, ensuring that your business remains on the path to success. Investing in the process ensures minimal disruptions to your operations to safeguard your future.