A network assessment is often the first step to introducing managed IT services to a company. However, it’s also a great idea to conduct periodically for any organization, especially those planning to make changes or upgrade their IT resources.
Many companies, especially SMBs operating with tight budgets, may not recognize the value of a network assessment conducted by experienced third-party professionals. Yet, the IT network is the foundation which supports all business processes, especially those concerned with moving data through the company. When planned correctly, a network assessment becomes investment which can be leveraged into a competitive advantage over industry rivals.
If it isn’t broken, check to see that it can be optimized. Data is the lifeblood of every organization.
5 Elements a Network Assessment Should Include
A thorough, third-party network assessment is an invaluable tool. It reveals opportunities for refinement of critical processes which even the most diligent in-house IT experts might have missed. However, not all network assessments are created equal. Make the most out of investing in a network assessment by making sure it provides a holistic, multi-layered analysis of the company’s IT resources. A complete network assessment includes:
1. A Physical Inventory
Knowing exactly what the office uses to go about its daily business is the first step to understanding how best to optimize IT resource usage. A solid network assessment documents all hardware, software, and physical devices which support a company’s IT network. A physical inventory can help identify devices which are nearing their end of life, or which are outdated or insecure—even if they function perfectly. Likewise, a physical inventory will also help identify devices which are may fail to meet industry regulations or legal compliance requirements.
2. Overall Security Review
The digitization of the office has changed the way companies—and IT services—think about security. Companies now pass a tremendous amount of data through their IT infrastructure—often in the form of documents. It means long gone are the days when IT security meant antivirus and strong passwords. A network assessment helps a company identify areas where it needs to get up to speed both with its cybersecurity strategy and its data security measures. This may take the form of configuration analyses as well as looking at the design of existing security infrastructure.
3. Visibility and Management Audit
It’s not enough to have the digital tools to keep pace with the 21st-century business world. Most IT networks are complex, consisting of multiple types of technology. A company needs the ability to maintain a view of and manage all of these tools. Otherwise, it risks the development of shadow IT—IT resources which employees use that the IT department doesn’t know about and which may introduce security risks. A managed network assessment identifies these blind spots both in network visibility and an internal IT department’s ability to manage what the company has.
4. Performance Analysis
IT infrastructure exists to facilitate the flow of data through a company, but that data can only flow optimally if everything performs at its peak ability. Performance analysis helps identify bandwidth capabilities, network efficiency, traffic flow, and whether end users can effectively access the tools available.
These features give clues as to the network’s overall health and whether deeper problems exist. For example, poor traffic flow within a well-designed network may indicate poorly configured permissions. Likewise, a performance analysis considers the physical layout of hardware or other devices, spotting over- or under-utilized technology which is negatively affecting the entire network’s performance.
5. Quantitative Data
Data-driven decisions represent some of the smartest decisions which a modern business can make. Likewise, analyzing the network’s overall performance should yield significant quantitative data—a good network assessment capitalizes on this. Documentation showing statistics such as device usage, user demographics, diagrams of connectivity, or resource consumption constitutes one of the easiest ways to gain a sense of how well the current IT infrastructure is meeting the company’s needs.
CDS Conducts Flexible, Proactive Network Assessments
Many business owners and SMB IT departments do not have the time or technical skill to uncover areas to optimize their network for peak performance and security. However, that also means that when something breaks, such companies spend more time attempting to fix the problem without a clear understanding of what they need.
In contrast, a managed IT service provider can help companies save time, money, and frustration by shedding much-needed clarity on a company’s true IT capabilities or resources. A network assessment specialist will dedicate the time required to develop a detailed, granular look at a company’s network. As a result, business owners stay focused on work while ensuring that they have the IT infrastructure necessary to do that work quickly and well.
CDS conducts flexible, proactive network assessments for companies in numerous industries. Connect with your nearest location today to discuss how an IT network assessment will benefit you.