If you work in digital, at some point in your career you’ll be asked for your opinion on a new technology tool, or thoughts on an existing one.
A technology audit—which is not as intimidating as it sounds—is a great way to understand your business needs, determine if a tool is being used as intended, and decide if it’s still right for your organization, or time to move on.
So, where to start? Let’s break it down.
Clear Your Head—It’s Not That Scary
A technology audit is probably something you do every day. Think I’m crazy? Consider this…
A friend tells you about a new app they’re using to edit Instagram photos.
You’ve been wanting to up your photography game, so you download the app, and start playing around with its features.
After a few days, you decide it’s not for you and delete it.
Or, you decide you can’t live without it, upgrade some features, and tell another friend.
If that sounds familiar to you then congratulations, you’ve essentially completed a technology audit!
Conducting a technology audit in a business context is somewhat more involved, but follows the same basic principles.
Timing is Everything
From my experience, there are three different types of audits, each relevant in their own time.
- Assess: You’re seeking out a new technology to use within your organization.
- Inform: The organization has been using a particular technology for some time, and wants to understand if it’s still the right fit. It’s good form to look at what you’re using every six to 12 months.
- Compare: Other technologies have come to your attention, and you want to compare new offerings to what you’re currently using.
Timing also depends on how long you have left in your current contract, but generally speaking, it’s a good idea to compare technologies every one to two years.
Step One: Evaluate
When you’re initially trying to determine if a type of technology would be useful or is needed within your organization, start by asking yourself these questions:
- What problem are you trying to solve? Every organization has an issue they want to resolve, or an action they want to improve. Look for current challenges or aggravating processes that exist in your company to determine potential improvements.
- Do you really need technology to help? Determine if your business is currently doing a task manually that could be improved upon with new technology implementation. You want to find those tasks that you know can be done better, faster, and stronger with the right tool.
- What tools are available for you in the marketplace? Here’s where Google becomes your best friend. Google it! Read articles. Better yet, talk to friends and colleagues who may have been in a similar situation, and have turned to technology to help.
- How much money do you have to spend? Let’s not kid ourselves. These technologies can be expensive, and you need to be honest about how much budget you have. Equally important is how much recurring budget you have. You’re not going to want to go through the process of implementing a new tool if you don’t have the money to support it year-over-year.
Step Two: Create a Criteria List
At this point, you know you need a tech tool or app, and may have an idea of the one you want to use.
Before making a significant financial commitment, you’ll want to take it for a test run to see if it lives up to your expectations.
Start by creating an inventory of features you want.
What Do You Want it to Do?
Never mind what the website says it can do, what do you want the tool to do?
Gather your ideas first from what you want, then add in some features that are advertised, or may be advertised on other competing products.
The goal is to have a comprehensive list more extensive than what Santa gets!
Categorize by Department and Uses
Once you have a long list of features, divvy them up into digestible sections.
Develop one section for elements that are required by your legal and IT department (governance.)
Another could include features you absolutely need to ensure the program will be successful (key features).
Finally, add a list of nice-to-have elements that you may or may not use (additional features).
Step Three: Take it Out for a Spin
When you know what you’re looking for, put that technology through the wringer.
Take it for a test drive.
You want to do everything you possibly can and try every possible application.
Once you’ve paid for the tool, it’s too late for regrets so get others involved, and see what it can really do.
Step Four: Preparing Your Recommendation
Finally, you want to rate the type of technology objectively.
This can be easily accomplished by using a simple checklist to mark off features that were available and how they performed.
If you have comments to add, be sure to include them.
You don’t want to forget any feedback or observations you may have that will help determine the viability of the technology you want to implement.
You have now successfully completed your first technology audit!
That wasn’t so bad, was it?
With the information and insight you’ve gained, you can make a solid recommendation to your organization.
After the Technology Audit
Once the technology is implemented, you’ll want to repeat this process, but more from the perspective of “Inform.”
After all, the key to using a great technology is making sure you have a great kind of technology!
Don’t leave that up to chance… Assess. inform, and compare.
How do you evaluate new tech offerings? Share your comments below.