Companies that grow quickly often need to re-evaluate whether the software they’ve built fits into a greater overall scheme. Similar to a check-up with a physician, a technology audit with Icreon can reveal your areas of strength and will highlight gaps. It provides an overview of your IT that is objective, expert and useful. We bring an objective and expert
view of your IT, utilizing our wealth of experience to help you optimize costs, increase business efficiencies and differentiate yourself from the competition. During an IT Audit, we draw from a number of our industry and technology-specific experts to give you a 360-degree view of what your technology roadmap should look like and how you need to staff for it moving forward.
Enterprise technology is evolving at a blistering pace. From the ubiquity of cloud computing, to a growing demand for enterprise mobile apps and complex web design, it's "adapt or die" for many IT teams. At times, it can feel tough to differentiate what kinds of technology your business should be committing to and which might be completely irrelevant to your business goals.
Chances are, you’ve already tried to step back and evaluate your own technology and its effect on your own business. The problem is: You don’t know what you don’t know. How can you be sure you’ve asked the right questions, and do you map out a plan of action once you’ve established an answer?
The following checklist will help you hone in on the potential holes in your technology, which in turn will allow you to start making the changes that really matter.
The Problem: Even with a growing pool of resources, businesses find it difficult to pinpoint and fix their technological issues.
Despite the fact that IT budgets are growing, studies show that businesses are actually less satisfied with their technology now than they have been in previous years. Many companies have found that their own internal ability to address gaps in IT has yet to catch up with the growing amount of resources they have at their disposal.
Every business has its own technological blind spots, but the question is, if there was something wrong with your current technology, would you be able to pinpoint it?
Answering this question requires rigorous ROI analysis, which many businesses lack the resources to conduct on a regular basis. If you have trouble finding your own technological pain points, you may require a second opinion to gain the perspective necessary.
The Problem: Businesses need to constantly re-evaluate whether their current software fits into their greater overall scheme.
All too often, we encounter companies that are unconvinced that their new and shiny technology platforms are actually helping them conduct business. Whether it’s a legacy system upgrade that employees simply haven’t adopted, or a new CMS that feels clunky despite its clean appearance, many companies are confronted with a difficult lesson: new technology is only good if it aligns with your business needs.
According to recent reports, only 13 percent of IT executives say their organizations are introducing new technologies more effectively than their competitors. When you take into consideration IT’s role as a core facet of day-to-day efficiency, this number is staggeringly low.
Your business goals should inform your technology, which should bolster your staff, which should serve your audience. If at any point your technology is tipping this balance in the wrong direction, it may be time to rethink its implementation.
The Problem: As high-profile security breaches become a more serious threat, many are scrambling to improve their own efforts.
In the shadow of recent cyber-attacks on businesses like Sony, Target and Home Depot, security is becoming a paramount issue in the technology world. According to a recent survey, nearly half of IT leaders plan to invest more next year in order to protect themselves from viruses, identity theft, and other intrusions from potential threats.
But smaller disasters—like hurricanes or power outages—can pose a massive threat to business continuity as well, and a surprising number of companies are underprepared for emergencies on a smaller scale. Studies show that only 86 percent of organizations back up their records on a regular basis, while only 69 percent keep clear documentation of how and where critical data is stored.
Whether it's girding a website for potential security threats, developing a robust contingency plan, or planning for recovery in case of a disaster, it's essential that businesses prepare themselves for any unexpected obstacles they might encounter.
The Problem: Without the proper knowledge, businesses leave a wealth of valuable technologies untapped.
You might not know it, but there's a good chance that you’re currently paying way too much for your technology. With the dawn of cloud computing and other cost-effective tech solutions, the IT dollar goes farther than it ever has—the catch is that you need to know where to look. Unfortunately, many businesses are slow to pick up on the value at their disposal; of the 87 percent of companies currently operating in the cloud, 43 percent say they wish they had adopted cloud technologies sooner.
From embracing software as a service platforms, to developing in open-source platforms, there are many ways for your business to increase the value of its technology. The difficult part, of course, is to learn what your options are, and to develop a plan of action that allows you to implement them to their fullest extent.
The Problem: With IT budgets on the rise, it’s imperative that businesses work to maximize their technological ROI.
As we head into the coming year, surveys show that 43 percent of IT executives expect their budgets to increase. The big question that these businesses will be forced to answer, however, pertains to how this money will be handled.
With so many options and approaches, there is no IT solution that perfectly suits every business. The best thing individual organizations can do is to get a second opinion from outside professionals who can highlight important weaknesses. By gaining further context, every organization can develop a roadmap that synergizes with business goals, presents significant value, and stands out from the competition.
Are you looking for a way to improve the use of software within your organization? Or are you worried about the risks and uncertainties involved with investing in a custom software project? Many C-Level executives in Fortune 500 companies as well as emerging startups are dealing with these issues and more. And an IT audit may be the most effective way to prevent budget overruns and lackluster end products.
Many software projects suffer from budget overruns and delayed timelines that end up drastically impacting the value of the software. Over 65% of projects exceed budgets. More than 30% miss their deadlines. And a surprising 17% of companies receive less value from their software than originally predicted.
Some projects veer off course so badly that they can threaten the very existence of the company. One large retailer began a $1.4 billion effort to modernize its IT systems, only to see the project abandoned within a few years. As the company fell behind its competitors, it launched a $600 million project to update its supply chain management software. When that effort also went off rails, the retailer had to file for bankruptcy.
In order to avoid and minimize the potential risks and obstacles associated with software projects, IT audits must be a core aspect of the process. Prior to any development, coding, or design, IT audits can safeguard software projects from preexisting issues in the business as well as common pitfalls.
Many software projects fail because of issues related to poor planning, unclear requirements, project complexity, and poor organizational environment. Seemingly boilerplate aspects of a project are essential to executing an impactful software implementation. Even the largest corporations can fall victim to poor planning.
SAP was slapped with a lawsuit by the California State Controller over a payroll software implementation. The office stated that the project cost taxpayers a vast sum of money without providing any sign working correctly. Some of the issues that led to the failure could have been easily avoided with a thorough IT audit and organizational technology assessment.
Planning and coordination is critical to a project’s success because poor planning leads to unclear milestones, over-ambitious objectives, and insufficient resources. Understanding the pain points of an existing system and becoming knowledgeable of the way users currently interact with software, is crucial to building something that workers will use to drive efficiency.
IT teams need to have project objectives agreed upon by all stakeholders in order to ensure proper delegation of responsibilities. Following this systematic approach insulates your project from changes in senior management, stakeholder politics and an unstable organizational environment. Even the BBC has suffered from failed software projects. During a project involved with the Digital Media Initiative, a British broadcast engineering project from 2008, the BBC announced a major failure: "DMI did not work and we must ensure that there can be no repeat of a failure of this scale".
Organizations must put in place the right controls and measures to ensure delivery of major infrastructure projects. IT audits do this job quite effectively by providing timely reports on risk identification, assessment, and mitigation.
Many businesses are locked into legacy systems and applications and their system upgrades become a nightmare for project managers. IT audits help in delivering such projects by conducting thorough feasibility study, systems analysis, and post implementation review. IT professionals know that 80 percent of the costs and time spent on a software system, over its life cycle, occur after implementation.
IT Audit reviews result in significant cost savings by checking the system adequacy for the maintenance phase. The rapid pace of technology change makes an IT audit a critical component for risk management and corporate oversight. Small measures of prevention have the ability to identify and alleviate potentially devastating software stumbles. By utilizing audit reports, businesses can receive valuable insight that helps identify solutions to address current and future technology challenges.
IT audits by an independent and impartial firm are a cost effective solution for successfully delivering software projects. Make sure to inquire about audit frameworks, tools, and methodology employed by an audit firm in order to truly identify potential obstacles.
Be honest: Are you totally satisfied with your development company? If the answer is anything less than a resounding "yes," you could be wasting your time.
When you outsource a technology project, you’re investing more than just money. You’re devoting time to research and management efforts, and taking a risk by putting your project in outside hands. It’s due to this sense of commitment that many clients tend to feel trapped in their current vendor situations. Having allocated so many resources to the project, it feels like a waste—or even worse, a failure—to acknowledge that things may have gone awry somewhere along the line.
By failing to either improve or terminate relations with your current development company, you risk wasting valuable time, money, and manpower that could have otherwise gone toward your technological efforts. Only by acknowledging your problem, however, can you assess your options and devise a plan of action.
This resource serves as both a measuring stick and a guiding light for businesses who are having second thoughts about their choice of developer. By outlining possible pain points and offering actionable advice, we’ll help ensure that your IT efforts are as efficient and effective as they should be.
Regardless of how deep businesses find themselves in new IT projects, there's no avoiding the fact that things change. Sometimes, the scope of your project will grow in ways that make your current vendor obsolete. Sometimes your vendor simply doesn't live up to expectations. This is a more common occurrence than you might believe, and the statistics are there to prove it:
With so many resources at stake, outsourcing clients typically try to take the path of least resistance by adjusting existing contracts or by clarifying their expectations with their development companies.
For many, this actually works. In many cases, however, the client-vendor connection has simply become strained to the point where things are beyond fixing. For these situations, the optimal path is to make a more drastic change—either by back sourcing your IT project internally, or by switching vendors.
Here at Icreon, we've worked with many companies who have been unsatisfied with their past IT efforts. There are a few common threads between these businesses' dissatisfactions, and can manifest themselves as warning signs very on in a client-vendor relationship. Here are some of the most urgent signs which need to be acted upon, whether by way of contract adjustment or a vendor handoff.
You're Beginning to Question Your Development Company’s Reliability
Are missed timelines becoming a persistent issue? Is your developer failing to keep your team in the loop about their progress? Does the quality of work delivered meet your expectations? In any development project, occasional mistakes and miscommunications are an inevitability. The question to ask yourself is whether or not these issues are stacking up in ways that are actually harmful to your efforts.
If you feel that problems are beginning to become a burden, the first thing to do is make a quick sanity check to ensure that you're not the one responsible. If you've given your development company the benefit of the doubt, however, and still experience consistent problems, it may be time to consider moving on.
Your Development Process Is a Cycle of Never-Ending Bugs and Prolonged Turnarounds
All too often, we're approached by businesses who feel that their technology is plagued by abnormally long turnaround times or a never-ending stream of bugs. This is not how efficient development works. When we take a closer look at these companies, we find that their issues aren't one-off flukes, but signs that their technological foundation isn't flexible enough to support their core aims.
If your technology project has turned to a vicious cycle of troubleshooting and missed deadlines, it may be time to find a partner whose capabilities are more suited to your needs. Always remember: Where there's smoke, there's fire.
Your Development Company is a Passive Executor, Not a Pro-Active Partner
When it comes to mission-critical technology for your business, your development company should make the baseline and the extra mile look indistinguishable. In the ideal vendor-client relationship, the service provider is much more than just a developer—they're an active, valuable stakeholder in the project's success. They'll show up on-site if needed, and are willing to sit down and work with users if the situation calls for it. Not only is your development company's role to build working technology, but to build technology that helps improve your business at a core level.
Execution at this level requires an ability to see beyond the code and into the deeper business implications of your technology. Bugs are more than minor bumps in the road, they translate into losses in time and revenue. Likewise, software needs to present effective quality-of-life improvements for your staff. This kind of insight demands a developer who's willing to go into the trenches and figure out whether their solutions will actually work in practice.
Your Development Company Has Difficulty with Course Correction
Technology is a learning process. It will take time for you to adjust to working with your developer, and it’ll take time for your developer to learn how to build software that works best for your business. As long as there is constant progress between you and your development company, you have little to worry about. However, the problem is when you find your developer making the same mistakes over and over again. If you feel like you’ve been going in circles with your vendor or they’re unable to make significant changes in the face of criticism, it could be time to reconsider your partnership.
You Struggle for Transparency
Regardless of the distance between you and your development company, you should never feel like you're in the dark about the intentions or progress of your technological development. In this industry, it's crucial for development teams to stay transparent and accountable. At no point should you feel like your developer is working out of a black box, isolated from your greater business aims.
If you feel your vendor is acting too unilaterally, fails to provide exhaustive documentation to support your project, or doesn't set aside enough time to catch up with your team, your communication issues may be cause for concern on a larger scale.
The most intimidating part of switching IT vendors—either to an insourced solution or to another developer—is finding out where to begin. Most businesses get hung up on the handoff process, which can feel clunky and difficult.
The most seamless IT vendor handoff will involve heavy preparation and strong initiative from your side of the table. This is a time to ask questions and to ensure that you receive answers so that you have everything you need as you move onto a new provider.
By heeding the warning signs and deciding to make a change, you already know about the realities that plague client-vendor relations. The real trick is to use this knowledge in ways that help you secure the perfect vendor for your efforts. Only by making the right preparations can you move forward in a way that presents minimal stress for your business.
There's a big elephant standing in the tech consulting room, so let's address it: Your nonprofit needs business technology, but business technology can look extremely intimidating. These days, you can't even run a Google search for "nonprofit software" without having to endure an onslaught of cryptic acronyms: SaaS, CRM, RWD, the list goes on.
While you might not know exactly what a CRM is or how it'll affect your nonprofit's growth, you are certain of one thing: Technology is essential for your nonprofit.
Whether you need to keep track of donor relationships, communicate with supporters through email, or provide a way for people to donate money online, you absolutely need technology to connect.
So you know that technology is a must, and that your IT staff or consultant can tell you how to implement it. Usually, the next step would be to approach your technological advisor, provide a list of your needs, and then monitor the process as they plan out and develop your desired product. There's nothing wrong with this system. In the end, the programmer will deliver a product to fit the nonprofit's needs. Everybody's happy.
But there's a better way to approach new technology than this, and it revolves around one basic idea: Technology is not scary.
Here's an inside secret: All these big, overarching concepts that have slowly developed in the tech field after years of experience and iteration? They're not as intimidating as they seem. RWD, for instance, stands for "Responsive Web Design," and is really just a type of web design that "responds" to the viewer's input to look great at any size. And RWD isn't just some random buzzword floating around in the ether: Research shows that responsive design actually doubles the amount of donations made through mobile devices.
Like RWD, most complex technological systems you can think of are actually quite simple to grasp at a conceptual level. Even without being able to know how to manipulate code or an understanding of how a developer is doing what they're doing, it's completely possible to get a feel for what is happening and how it's fulfilling your needs. Or maybe, by learning more about technology, you’ll think up completely new ideas for needs that you didn’t even know existed.
The nonprofit has the need, and the IT professional has the expertise. This is simple. But in the long run, even the most sustainable, most effective technological infrastructure is only as good as the people who are using it on a daily basis.
"Many of us shy away from technology. By leaving tech decisions to the IT department rather than schooling ourselves on these opportunities, we limit the impact of our communications strategies." – Nancy Schwartz, GettingAttention.org
Technology is a two-way process, and it's just as important for the user to know what’s going on as it is to have a development team to execute it. In this scenario, the IT professional should be more than just an executor. They should be an educator, a creator, a collaborator and an ambassador. By forging this kind of relationship between technology and nonprofit, ambassador and student—your organization can get the most out of its consultancy and the technology that comes with it.