network assessment tips

6 things your network assessment should include

Conducting regular network assessments is something every business should do in order to make sure their business IT is getting the best performance and efficiency from their networks.

From identifying bottlenecks, obsolete hardware or software to bolstering security and establishing solid disaster plans, a proper assessment will ensure you minimize downtime and maximize your overall business productivity.

Here are 6 things a good network assessment should include.

Network inventory

The first step is knowing how your network is structured, equipped and configured. How many users do you have? Are they accessing your network through a few devices or many? How old is your network hardware and software? What, specifically, is your business network being used for?

Is your network solely for in-house use or do you work with off-site employees? Do clients need access to your network?

There are a lot of questions to be considered here.

Some businesses rely on their networks mostly for communication or accounting. Others also rely on their networks for ordering and inventory control, application development, project management, and office collaboration.

Examining your network inventory and aligning its capabilities with your business usage is an important first step in making sure you’re getting the most performance from your network, with as little waste as possible.

Security assessment

Are there any holes in your network security? With new data breaches making the headlines each year, data security is an absolute must for protecting your business and client information, databases, and reputation.

Vulnerabilities can occur in several places on your network, resulting from outdated network technology, unsecured web applications, insufficient firewall protection, or poor password practices. By conducting a security assessment, you can uncover potential problems before they happen, saving you downtime, loss of data, or even loss of customer confidence.

Network performance evaluation

How well does your network function? Bandwidth limitations can slow down performance and make things frustrating for both your employees and your customers.

Bottlenecks or other network slowdowns can occur from a variety of causes, such as ill-timed backup procedures, excessive streaming content, large file transfers, or simply faulty hardware or software configurations.

A network performance evaluation will isolate the individual causes of slow network functionality and help you determine how best to get your network running more effectively and efficiently than ever.

Evaluating your cloud setup

Over 80% of business entities are already using the cloud in one way or another. In a few years, that number may increase to 93% or higher.  How are you leveraging cloud computing technology in your business? With public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid cloud options, it’s a strategic question that can impact how effectively you’re running your business.

Many organizations use the cloud for backup and recovery and file sharing. In both cases, solid security is a must. Some also run cloud-based applications such as Office 365. In addition to security concerns, you need to know how well your cloud setup functions for your specific business and technology needs.

Are you getting the most out of your cloud network? How could it be improved to meet business goals like better communication or higher productivity or remote collaboration? How could waste be removed? Assessing and evaluating your cloud use will make your overall network assessment more thorough.

Mobile device use

Does your business rely heavily on mobile devices such as tablet computers or smartphones?

A network assessment can reveal how your mobile device usage is tied into your network and how well that is working for you. Some mobile devices make work much easier and more efficient, but there can be security concerns as well.

Evaluating mobile usage and adjusting security and usage policies go a long way toward making your business network more efficient and reliable.

Addressing weak spots

It’s one thing to know what you have in your network and how well it’s being used. It’s another to know what to do about any weak spots uncovered during the assessment.

Technology changes, and it can change quickly. A network assessment will tell you what hardware or software needs to be updated or replaced. It can also tell you when certain technology has become obsolete.

Another potential weak spot that you can address after a network assessment is determining what your disaster recovery plan will be.

Whether by human error, cyberattack, or natural disaster, networks can go down unexpectedly and that downtime can mean a loss of business productivity and revenue.

Is there a plan in place to maintain business continuity with as little interruption as possible? Backup procedures, cloud services, and up-to-date technology can all mitigate the effects of unexpected downtime.

An idea whose time has come

Conducting a business network assessment is an important part of keeping your business competitive and current. As business and technology both change and develop, it’s crucial to change and develop your business environment alongside them to serve your customers as efficiently and effectively as possible.