At every level of I.T. management and services, people can lose sight of the fundamentals. It can simply be more fun to talk about the latest gadgets and toss around the latest buzzwords, especially for tech people. But for long-term success, it’s more important to stay focused on these foundational components of a mature I.T. environment.

What we look for when consulting with businesses great and small are the following key areas. If I can tell early on these questions are not important to the client or prospect, at best I know we have some realignment to do. At worst, the business partnership won’t last. If you’re not addressing these questions, chances are you’re not getting the most out of I.T. and you’re likely also increasing your business risk:

  1. Is my I.T. management standards-aligned?

People who don’t quite understand technology often think they just need to hire an expert or throw some money at the problem. But establishing clear standards for your environment, whether developed in-house or through a third party, helps avoid the huge crashes and helps you take decisive action at the right time. Without standards you risk misalignment, fragmentation, and downtime.

  1. Is my I.T. management process-driven?

Almost every growing business with longevity has moved through the pains of dealing with issues ad hoc to developing strong processes. They’re fundamental to long-term success. As in business, so in I.T. This determines who is stuck in reactive mode, playing whack-a-mole, and who can take proactive steps to ensure system health, functionality, security, performance, and reduced risk.

Do you have quarterly check-ups? What do you do with your findings? How do you revise budget and strategy based on these inputs?

  1. Is my I.T. improving business performance?

In short, what’s your ROI for your I.T.? Is it a necessary evil? A Capex dump? A constant headache? With standards and processes in place, you can start to make informed decisions.

Are staff adequately trained on business critical applications or do they waste time figuring out how to use it? Do they waste more time trying to fix it when something breaks and find themselves less than completely successful? Do you have time and expertise to conduct root cause analysis to get at the heart of the issues? Does your I.T. department track ticket type? Is ticket volume going up or down? Where is your ticking time bomb? Do you have a strategy to reduce downtime?

A lot of times, especially at the SMB level, we tend to take a fingers-crossed approach instead of relying on sound strategy.

  1. What’s my level of confidence in data security?

Crashes. Malware. Hacking. Ransomware. Compliance guidelines. The security issue isn’t going anywhere. Do you have a disaster recovery and business continuity plan? Who’s been trained on it? Who has access to it? Has it been tested? How frequently?

Losing productivity to an outage is a huge cost, but pales in comparison to some of the other security risks businesses have when they play fast and loose with their data. Hackers are getting sophisticated, but so are protection measures. Do you need continuous offsite replication or something simpler? Identify your Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) requirements and put together the solution that fits your budget and meets your security needs.

I.T. Maturity means relying on standards, processes, and strategy to maintain security, reduce risk, and improve business performance. We hope that’s as important to you as it is to your business.