We are living in exponential times in regards to growth of information technology. New developments that are occurring on an annual basis simply dwarf the developments in prior centuries. With this being understood, the need for IT sub-specialization and ongoing education is imperative. You wouldn’t want a family doctor performing open-heart surgery; likewise, you shouldn’t want a junior IT staff person managing the complex array of servers, networks, backups, and firewalls your organization relies upon. IT systems make or break organizations every day in our global, competitive marketplace. Taking the time to invest in your IT infrastructure and system is crucial, and it takes asking only a few questions to start heading in the right direction.

  1. Have any operational mishaps or warning signals been noticed?
  2. Who are the key IT personnel, and what ongoing training do they receive?
  3. What documentation regarding IT is performed?
  4. Where are the key storage areas for backups and archives?
  5. Where are key resources and staff located?
  6. What happens if a system failure occurs after hours?
  7. How do your clients or suppliers respond if no one answers communications?
  8. How often are updates performed?
  9. What protections are in place if a power outage occurs?
  10. How often are outside assessments and audits performed?

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12 Comments
  1. Every company’s IT department should be aware of these questions and fundamentals.

  2. Nice list of things to be aware of definitely. I would add maybe how does the IT unit communicate in any given situation. Free Walkie-talkie apps, chat services, Facebook, etc. etc. I think it is important to prioritize so that information is channeled in the esired direction. Panic can create communication crisis in no time.

    • Chat’s good for quick support that can be done without much hands-on. I remember when I had some technical problems, my supervisor made me call India. I’m not sure if that’s common but I was hoping someone could’ve helped me whose accent I can understand and who’s in the same building. There might be some reasons why they do that, it’s just weird for me.

    • Most companies will have an internal email system that will directly be able to contact their helpdesk or IT staff. I think what’s more important than HOW to communicate to your IT staff is WHAT to communicate to your IT staff.

      How do you efficiently communicate the problem in order to facilitate a quick response and resolution.

    • I have been pushing for instant messaging in our office for years now. It would be better than e-mail in my opinion. The IT guys are on board with it but management won’t pull the trigger out of fear that employees would abuse such technology. I think that the walkie talkie idea is excellent. Right now we have a faulty phone system that keeps going down because they switched to a cheaper carrier and we have e-mail. That’s it. I find myself getting up out of my cubicle and walking to the IT department when I have issues. Not efficient.

  3. 11)

    Is there a plan in place for the eventual retirement and replacement of hardware in the network. Has the budget for the existing network accounted for this eventual cost?

    One thing that we see very often in our clients is the lack of foresight in the eventual phase-out and replacement of hardware. It’s an inevitable cost that many companies neglect.

    • That is a very thoughtful post that you made. Most of my employers have not planned a budget to include the retirement and replacement of any of the firm’s hardware. They just panic and purchase new hardware when the old stuff breaks which really crimps the budget for that month. I can’t say that I’ve worked for a company that hasn’t neglected these inevitable costs.

  4. This kind of plan should be automatic for business, especially ones which rely on servers and technology. However, contingencies for such often seems to get ignored for ‘more important’ issues. I hope businesses take these important hints seriously, and implement them in their own practice.

  5. I know for a fact we have not had outside assessments in years. We do keep a list of important updates that I am always on IT’s back about. In terms of “What protections are in place if a power outage occurs?”, I really never looked into it but I will now. I’m assuming we have a backup generator on board, somewhere.

  6. Great article. Wish my last job thought about these things. We had a lot of system issues. They could have done a little bit better with it.

  7. Thank you for coming up with these questions for considerations. It’s helpful for getting a general sense of what the IT infrastructure needs and in finding out what steps to take next. I’m pretty sure we often think that the IT team knows what they’re doing, but really, every now and then we should rethink the priorities.

  8. I find these 10 questions actually helpful in discovering certain issues with your system. I believe that you need to follow them a bit and discover is it actually going well. It will save you both time and effort in the future in terms of certain fixes and vulnerabilities.

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