As the year draws to a close, projects wind down and clients become a little quieter with team holidays in full swing, it’s the perfect time to plan for the year ahead.
Most organisations begin the year with an aim to expand and improve operations, particularly when it comes to technology, software and processes.
A year-end technology review provides a great opportunity to analyse the different areas of your IT infrastructure, with a goal to make improvements that can boost your operations and reduce risk.
A recent study by Deloitte found that, compared to businesses with low levels of digital engagement, digitally advanced small businesses:
- earn twice as much revenue per employee;
- were almost three times more likely to create jobs over the previous year;
- had an average employment growth rate over six times as high, and;
- experienced revenue growth over the previous year that was nearly four times as high.
Essentially, this study shows that companies that use technology well, do better than companies that don’t. This may seem obvious, yet many organisations are still falling behind on their technology solutions.
This December, take some time to conduct a technology review with your IT team or MSP to set yourself up for success and security in the coming year.
Considerations When Reviewing Your Technology at Year End
The goal of an end of year technology review is to look at all areas of your IT infrastructure. Security, efficiency, functionality and bottom-line considerations will be the key drivers for future success.
When technology policies get outdated, people stop following them. Make sure you review all your policies to see if they need updating to reflect new conditions. For example, you may have implemented home working since your device use policy was last updated.
Let your employees know when policies have been updated to ensure they’re refreshed on all the latest important information.
Disaster Recovery Planning
When is the last time your company did an incident response drill? Is there a clear list of steps for employees to follow in the instance of a natural disaster or cyber attack?
Take some time to look at disaster recovery planning for the new year. You should also put some dates in place for preparedness drills and training in the coming months.
IT Issues and Pain Points
Year-end is a perfect time to survey your employees on how they use technology. Ask them questions about their favourite and least favourite apps, common struggles or frustrations they may have, and if they have any suggestions for IT improvements.
Make sure to consider employee pain points before undertaking any large-scale IT upgrades, otherwise you may miss some golden opportunities to improve staff productivity and wellbeing.
Privileged Access and Orphaned Accounts
Conduct an audit of privileged accounts as part of your year-end review. Over time, permissions can be misappropriated, leaving your network at higher risk of an attack. You should ensure that only those that need them have admin-level permissions. The fewer privileged accounts you have in your business tools, the lower your risk.
While going through your accounts, you can also look for orphaned accounts. Leaving these active poses a security risk, so make sure they’re all closed correctly.
IT Upgrade & Transformation Plans for the New Year
If you make IT upgrades and decisions ‘on the fly’, it can come back to bite you. It really pays to plan out a strategy ahead of time, so you can upgrade in an organised, proactive way.
Have a vulnerability assessment performed to give you a list of potential problems your company should address. Eliminating vulnerabilities improves your cyber security and allows you to budget for your upgrades accordingly, preventing unplanned expenses.
Cloud Use and Shadow IT
Review your use of cloud applications. Are certain apps barely used? Do you have any redundancies in your cloud environment? A review can help you cut waste and save money.
Also, look for uses of shadow IT by employees. These are cloud applications that are being used for work but have not been through the necessary approval. Often, management aren’t even aware of them. Remove this security risk by closing the accounts of running them through the official approval process.
Don’t forget to look at the customer experience of your technology infrastructure. Go through your website and conduct processes as a customer would. This helps you see whether anything needs improving. If you get frustrated by slow loading times, poor navigation or a complicated site map, then think about how your clients feel!