1 Understand the Business
The first step in performing an IT audit that is tied to business strategy is understanding the short-term and long-term goals and objectives of the business. While we expect IT strategies to be aligned to an organization’s business strategies, in practice, this is not easy to achieve. The organization typically has made large investments in legacy systems that have been supporting the current business. The organization must balance the maintenance of current business requirements with the need to support longer term strategies, using emerging technologies to improve the competitiveness of the organization.
Completing this business audit will ensure that you learn a lot about the business of the organization.
To prepare for the audit, read Audits, Internal and Core Competencies. The templates provided for Step 1 will give you a framework for collecting this information. Be sure to ask the following questions:
- What are the strategic goals of the organization?
- What are the business operational goals?
- How do you see your organization in one year, in five years, and beyond?
Download and open the Templates_for_Project2_with_Instructions.xlsx file. You will be using this file throughout this project. For optional feedback in Steps 1 and 3, use the following naming protocols
The templates for business objectives in Appendices A1 and A2 will guide your discovery. You should list a minimum of three business objectives that exist for your organization, which will likely vary from these templates. Existing entries in templates A1 and A2 are for illustration purposes only. You should fill in and submit to the assignment folder two tables: Appendix A1 is for short-term goals (one year) and Appendix A2 is for longer term goals (five or more years). See Goal Setting for more information.
After you understand your organization’s business objectives, you will need to evaluate how well your organization is meeting those objectives. The template in Appendix B will guide you through a quick analysis of overall organizational effectiveness. You may want to ask those in leadership positions how well the organization is performing, but you can also get this information by examining how well the organization is performing according to current operational objectives. Choose a minimum of three organizational effectiveness criteria. Provide a one-sentence description of each measure, along with an overall score on a five-point scale and an explanation of the score you provided. See Effectiveness and Efficiency.
Now that you’ve looked at how well the overall organization is performing, you should evaluate the organization at a lower level. Using the Appendix C template to guide you, assess the general well-being of any two departments in your organization (for example, finance and marketing). Again, provide explanation for any key issues for areas where there are less effective or very effective departments. This information may help you to see areas where opportunities exist to improve your business with technology.
To summarize what you have found during your assessment of the business, prepare a two-page summary of the business objectives and the level of effectiveness in your organization. This business objectives and effectiveness summary should address the following questions:
- What are some short-term and long-term business objectives of your organization?
- What is your evaluation of overall organizational effectiveness? Departmental level effectiveness?
Post your business assessment worksheets (Appendices A1, A2, B, and C) along with your two-page summary of business objectives and effectiveness to your assignment folder. Your instructor will review your work and inform you of any major weaknesses in your deliverable.
In the next step, you will evaluate the ability of IT to meet the business objectives identified in Step 1.
2 Assess the Current State of Your IT Infrastructure
In Step 1, you looked at the state of business. Now in Step 2, you will evaluate the ability of IT to meet business objectives. You should review Technology in Business and Technology Resources before moving on to Appendix D and E.
Conduct an inventory of the technology being used in your organization. The technology inventory, Appendix D, provides a structured format for identifying various technologies and their business functions. In this step, you are merely identifying the various types of technology that exist in your organization and their purpose in the organization as they relate to business functions.
Next, you will evaluate the technology for its ability to meet current and future business needs. Does your organization use software for customer relationship management (CRM)? For inventory management? For employee training? What have you learned from this assessment? Review Capabilities of IT Systems and Measuring IT Effectiveness before you continue.
Many of the technologies found in organizations are implemented to meet the needs of specific business functions. Often, they are not evaluated for their impact on the organization’s overall strategic business objectives. Use the information technology assessment worksheet, Appendix E, to document the overall state of technology in your organization. Some of the cells in the worksheet are filled in as examples. Please delete the examples before starting your work so that you begin with a blank template. Assess two or three of the most critical business functions as you identify and list the capabilities and problems or gaps that exist, being precise in your description of how each business information system contributes to the overall efficiency or performance of the business function. You will use the following five questions to guide your assessment:
- What technologies are responsible for the operation and success of the organization?
- What is the organizational structure and where does IT reside in this structure?
- Are there obvious areas where existing technology is not meeting the current business needs of your organization?
- Are there inefficiencies or redundant systems?
- Are there potential vulnerabilities in the existing systems that could impact operations in the short term? What about in the long term?
See Identifying Applications of Current and Potential Technologies before continuing.
Next, write a detailed assessment of the ability of technology to support key business functions in the organization. Your two-to-three-page technology assessment write-up will consist of one or two paragraphs to address each of the five questions above . Post this along with your technology assessment worksheets (Appendices D and E) to your assignment folder. Your instructor will review your work and inform you of any major weaknesses in your deliverable.
In the next step, you will complete a business process risk assessment for your organization.
3 Complete a Business Process Risk Assessment
In Step 2, you looked at your organization’s business processes and the technology that supports them. Some opportunities for improvement should now be apparent. Every organization has limited resources to invest, and so it is important to prioritize the problem areas that you identified. One way to prioritize issues is by their potential impact to key organizational business processes. You will do this by conducting a risk assessment. A risk assessment can be used as a tool for identifying and quantifying the factors that have the potential to impact critical business goals. See Business Process Risk Assessment.
A risk assessment exercise typically requires several steps: identification of the business risks, assessment of the likelihood and impact of the risk, and the identification of mitigation strategies to control the risks. See Business Risk Mitigation to get more details.
Use the risk assessment worksheet, Appendix F, to list and rate the business risks as to the relative consequences and the likelihood of not meeting business objectives. If there is an existing work-around or mitigation strategy that reduces the seriousness of the risk, please make a note. A mitigation strategy may involve a process work-around, realignment of resources or an investment in IT infrastructure. You might also want to review the risk matrix in Appendix G, for additional information on performing your risk assessment.
You will now use the risk assessment and level of risk you determined through your risk analysis to prioritize the organization’s business risks. The risks that pose realistic and severe threats to the business will typically have the highest priority. However, mitigation efforts should be considered as you make your list of priorities. The organization may not view a risk as a high priority if they have an acceptable mitigation strategy in place. Post the risk assessment (Appendix F) in your assignment folder.
In the next step, you will familiarize yourself with emerging technologies in preparation for making recommendations to the CEO.
4 Review Emerging Technologies
Now that you have assessed your organization’s current technology inventory and assessed your organization’s risk factors, you are ready to review emerging technologies that may benefit your organization.
In almost every aspect of business, technologies have been transforming the way that we do business, improving the productivity and efficiency of organizations across all sectors. Point-of-sale systems are now used by most major retailers and computers are used to manage sales, inventory, employees, and communication. Technology is evolving and new technologies are being introduced all that time that have the potential to improve the competitiveness of organizations. The following are some of the emerging technologies that you should become familiar with before you make your report to the CEO:
- mobile devices
- social media
- cloud computing
- data analytics (big data)
- digital tools (3D printing, wearables, internet of things, etc.)
- virtual and augmented reality
- machine learning and artificial intelligence
You are not limited to the emerging technologies in this list; be sure to consider other technologies you have learned about in your research or from other sources. When you have completed your review of emerging technologies, you are ready continue to the next step, in which you will evaluate these technologies and determine if they might be useful for your organization.
5 Evaluate Emerging Technologies
Every organization is unique when it comes to assessing how beneficial the implementation of one technology is over another. Many technologies have failed to live up to the potential benefits that were expected from their implementation, so you will want to look at several factors as you proceed through your analysis. Below are some specific questions to consider when identifying emerging technologies that have the potential to impact critical business functions in your organization.
- Can it lower the cost of maintaining your legacy systems?
- Will it enable your organization to improve business processes?
- Will it improve interoperability of systems?
- Will it simplify or standardize IT interfaces?
- Does it define new computing or communication standards?
- Can this technology be used to reengineer a mission critical business process?
- Will employees see it as a solution to their problem?
- Is the organization prepared to deliver any required training on the new system?
Be sure to read Technology Solution Implementation before you continue with this step.
Indicate which two emerging technologies you would recommend that your organization implement. As you evaluate the new technologies, you will choose two that you believe have great opportunity to add value to your organization and organizational business processes. Replacing or integrating critical legacy information systems can be costly to the organization and may put the organization at risk, therefore you should evaluate these suggestions carefully. Fill out the emerging technology templates (Appendix H and I). These templates will help you capture the pertinent factors regarding implementation of new technologies in your organization. For assistance for estimating costs of new technology see Cost Estimating.
When you have finished evaluating emerging technologies, continue to the next step, in which you will present your complete technology audit report.
6 Present Your Technology Audit Report
Now that you have a full understanding of the gaps and opportunities presented by current and future technologies, prepare an executive-level brief (or technology audit report) of no more than 3,000 words, which communicates the current state of information technology in your organization. Discuss whether or not existing technologies help your organization meet business objectives as well as the impact that these technologies may have on your organization’s business model. Ultimately, if accepted, your recommendations would be documented in a technology plan or technology roadmap. See Technology Roadmap for help on this step.
- Appendices A1, A2, B, and C
- Two-page summary of business in your organization
- Appendices D, E, and F
- Two-to-three page Technology Assessment Write-up
- Appendices H and I
- Technology Audit Report (no more than 3,000 words)
Before you submit your assignment, review the competencies below, which your instructor will use to evaluate your work. A good practice would be to use each competency as a self-check to confirm you have incorporated all of them in your work.
- 1.1: Organize document or presentation clearly in a manner that promotes understanding and meets the requirements of the assignment.
- 2.1: Identify and clearly explain the issue, question, or problem under critical consideration.
- 2.5: Develop well-reasoned ideas, conclusions or decisions, checking them against relevant criteria and benchmarks.
- 8.1: Evaluate major business/organizational systems and processes and make recommendations for improvement.
- 8.2: Analyze an organization’s current technology capabilities and needs, identifying specific strengths and areas of weakness.
- 11.1: Recommend strategic plan for the use of technology to meet the strategic goals of organization.
- 13.1: Identify and analyze new opportunities.
I did please use scholarly article or business articles only. below are some resources to use
Edgar and Lockwood (2011) (see Resources section) offer a general overview on this topic and a framework that may be used to help discover an organization’s core competencies. Also potentially useful (although not required reading) are the articles Edgar and Lockwood reference, including the seminal work on this topic by Prahalad and Hamel.
Kayes, D.C. (2005). The destructive pursuit of idealized goals. Organizational Dynamics, 34(4), 391 – 401. doi:10.1016/j.orgdyn.2005.08.006
Ordóñez, L. D., Schweitzer, M. E., Galinsky, A. D., & Bazerman, M. H. (2009). Goals Gone Wild: The Systematic Side Effects of Overprescribing Goal Setting. Academy Of Management Perspectives, 23(1), 6-16. doi:10.5465/AMP.2009.37007999