Four key technology areas to review to get the new financial year off to a good start

A new financial year is a perfect time for businesses to review key parts of their technology architecture to ensure they’re well-placed to compete effectively.

Simon Wheeler, Chief information officer, Brennan IT said, “A business’s IT architecture is the backbone of its operations: the right systems and technologies can empower a business to compete strongly, while inadequate systems and technologies can hold the business back.”

There are four key technology areas to consider for improvement at the start of the new financial year, according to Brennan IT.

1. Developing the technology roadmap

IT is at the core of the business, so it’s essential to have an IT roadmap in place. This is a strategic plan that details the evolution of the organisation’s software and the infrastructure and talent to support it. It must be aligned to the overall strategic objectives of the organisation to be useful so that any technology investments reflect actual business needs and will deliver a return on investment.

The roadmap should be a living document that is constantly checked to ensure it continues to reflect the business goals and drivers. This strategy document enables proactivity and sets long-term goals rather than letting the IT team get bogged down in reacting to short-term needs. It should include expected technology projects and outcomes, requirements for new technology or skills, and defined roles and responsibilities for team members.

2. Optimising the IT infrastructure

IT optimisation is all about maximising the efficiency of the organisation’s systems so it can move as fast as it needs to, adapt to change whenever it is called for, and drive solutions for customers.

There are six key ways to optimise the IT environment:

1.        Work with experts to understand the full potential of the IT environment

2.        Analyse applications and workloads to understand cloud feasibility

3.        Map the hybrid environment to see where workloads perform best

4.        Create a migration strategy or an IT roadmap to review the business strategy and capabilities against current IT initiatives to understand what’s already in place and what needs to be considered as a future investment.

5.        Consider cloud backup for business continuity (backup and disaster recovery) during the migration of data and after.

6.        Ensure employees have the correct tools to complete tasks effectively

3. Keeping security up to speed

With more Australian businesses moving their workloads to the cloud, it’s important to ensure data remains secure. There are four key elements businesses should examine to ensure they’re getting security right:

1.        Compliance framework. Businesses that value their data and intend to shift to the cloud need to make sure that the chosen cloud provider is certified with the appropriate framework for the data.

2.        Brand impact. Businesses must consider the impact on their brand if they experience a data breach.

3.        Data regulation. Different types of data are subject to different regulations, so businesses must make sure the provider will provide data retention for the required period.

4.        Data classification. It’s essential to ensure the business’s preferred cloud solution complies with the required data classification level and protects it accordingly.

4. Putting disaster recovery and back up in place

To avoid downtime and ensure continuous operations, it’s essential to have a solid disaster recovery (DR) plan in place. A (DR) plan should focus on the following features:

1.        Redundancy. In the past, building redundant systems required companies to buy multiple servers and maintain expensive secondary failover data centres. Server virtualisation has removed the need for duplicate server hardware, making redundancy more cost effective.

2.        Business continuity. Many hosting providers offer highly-scalable platforms on which companies of all sizes can build DR environments. If a disaster occurs at the main business premises, key systems can be redirected to the hosted environment and the business can resume operations as quickly as possible.

3.        Documentation. Good documentation is essential for a functional DR plan. It’s important to methodically document your IT infrastructure, key applications, and hardware these run on; information about related support and technical contacts; and server and application configurations. All of this documentation should be readily available, either in paper form or hosted offsite.

4.        Prioritised business functions. Businesses need to detail each IT function and the likely impact should it be interrupted.

5.        Clear internal communications. Employees need to know what to do to resume operations as quickly as possible. It’s equally important to communicate with suppliers and partners to ensure all parties have active DR plans in place that offer support to one another.

6.        Testing and optimisation. It’s vital to test business recovery plans in real-world scenarios and use the insights that emerge to continually optimise the DR plan.

Simon Wheeler said, “A new financial year is a good time to take a good look at your strategy and see how well your IT is supporting that. Organisations that make sure they have the right technology architecture and systems in place will be well-positioned for success throughout the year.’