The idea of benchmarking is to measure your organisation against industry standards – so far, so good. But the information you get from benchmarking is only useful if you can take action from it – benchmarking therefore is as much about looking for the right information in the first place as it is about the insight itself.
So how do you get the most from your IT benchmarking?
Take a 360 view
Benchmarking should expose weaknesses and flaws within the company as well as opportunities for growth and expansion – your IT is no different. It’s those pain points that will make you stronger and that will identify areas and opportunities for growth.
Taking a holistic view of your entire IT infrastructure will uncover problems you knew you had (and were maybe ignoring) as well as some that you didn’t. It means looking at everything – even the bits you think are working well – and scrutinising how they perform in the context of your business and the wider industry.
This is more a case of doing what is right rather than what is expedient. In the long run, taking this approach has numerous benefits – cost saving, security, resilience, and efficiency to name a few.
Know the what and the why
Knowing what to benchmark is relatively straightforward: strategy, performance, operations, and risk, for example, will all offer much-needed insight into your IT infrastructure. The results you get and their interpretation are less straightforward.
For example, figuring out why your email is slow or why your shared drive is lethargic and unresponsive requires some investigation. They could have the same route cause (that your server needs upgrading) or they could have separate causes (such as malware on the network and stretched capacity).
Benchmarking your IT against industry best practice mitigates those problems and helps to identify fixes. So to fix the examples above, industry best practice recommends using flexible cloud hosting for email and shared storage, and that your security is aligned to a framework such as Cyber Essentials. That would have eliminated any problems with capacity and may have prevented malware from accessing the network.
Benchmarking will identify numerous fixes, improvements, and opportunities for your IT. Prioritise the order to do these – we recommend going with those that will mitigate major risk (i.e. cyber security) and improve operational efficiency (e.g. making internal systems more responsive).
You can’t realistically expect to fix all issues overnight and nor should you try to. The reality is, that IT is one part of your organisation (albeit a very important one) and to that end has to be improved over time concurrently with the rest of the business.
Small, incremental changes compound over time and lead to a better overall IT infrastructure. It’s a tune-up, rather than an overhaul. And remember, benchmarking itself is an ongoing process and not a job you do once and forget about. You should always try to raise standards.
For help with auditing and benchmarking your IT, visit Nutbourne.com, or call on +44 (0) 203 137 7273