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You should think of your IT system like any other machine you use, such as your car. If you don’t get oil changes, rotate the tires, or perform other basic maintenance tasks, you will need to shell out a lot of money for repairs. The car will likely not last for very long either. The same rules apply to your system. Without proper maintenance and performance tests, it will break down and disrupt your organization’s day-to-day functions. Your customers will likely feel the effects as well, especially if your website is down. Interruptions like these need to be avoided at all cost since the world depends on efficient and always-functioning information technology. So it is essential that you are always keeping an eye on your system to evaluate how it is doing.
To give you even more incentive, here are six additional reasons to monitor and audit your system.

  • Prevent major problems and disruptions

When you bring your car into a shop for an oil change, the mechanics usually go through a list of maintenance checks to verify that your car is running smoothly. Oftentimes they find early signs of wear and tear or more serious problems like worn breaks. Consistent observation and auditing of your IT infrastructure serve the same purpose. They allow you to identify errors or bugs in the system before they cause problems, such as overloaded servers, and affords you the opportunity to better understand how well (or not) different parts of your system work together. Additionally, there are times when issues might not be apparent at the outset and build up over time.

With this information in hand, you will improve your chances of preventing major disruptions and making your system more efficient. Another advantage of fixing small problems in advance is that it reduces the time and energy (and, not to mention, stress) your IT team needs to spend on dealing with a big problem when it happens. Additionally, detecting issues with the system early lets your IT team focus on other, more important tasks.

  • Availability and traceability goals are met

Continuous monitoring and auditing serve another important purpose as well. They allow you to stay on top of meeting your availability and traceability goals. In terms of availability, which refers to a system’s capacity to endure scheduled (for regular maintenance and upgrades) and unplanned outages, consistent tracking of your system enables you to provide almost uninterrupted service. Ideally, you should aim for any outages (planned or unplanned) to occur less than .001% of the time. As for traceability, which is the ability to link all business procedures back to goals, monitoring and auditing keep you focused on achieving those aims in all aspects of your business, from software upgrades to training, etc.

  • Productivity and performance improvement

Every workplace strives for high productivity and efficient performance. Consistent analysis of your system lets you and your staff fix errors right away. It also gives you the opportunity to pinpoint areas that need improvement. Nothing good comes from wasted time and energy, certainly not increased profits. So it is crucial to do all you can to closely monitor your system.

  • You’ll know when to upgrade

Coming back to the car analogy, your system will need to be upgraded periodically just like car parts need to be replaced. In other words, having an accurate inventory of the various parts (computers, servers, software, etc.) of your system is essential. You will learn how much time they have left to function properly and not become obsolete. Planning ahead and budgeting for upgrades is much easier once you have this information. You will maintain high levels of performance and efficiency as well.

  • You’ll have a large data set to refer back to

This one is really important. As you examine your system and collect information over time, you will build a large set of data (be sure to store it properly) that you and your staff can use to make informed decisions now and in the future. The other advantage of having this data is that any confusion about past events can be clarified quickly. You won’t have to rely on someone’s memory, which may not be accurate, or “he said, she said” situations. In short, the data provides objective insight into the past.

  • Verifies compliance with regulations and laws

Conducting regular audits not only ensures that your system is performing efficiently, it also helps your business maintain compliance with laws and regulations. It is key to avoid costly fines that result from non-compliance. These are unforced errors that decrease profits and increase stress among your staff. They also waste time, since your staff has to correct the problem(s) when they should be working on more productive tasks. So it is definitely in your best interest to perform regular audits (internal or external) and monitor your system to conform with the appropriate rules.
Now that you have learned about some of the reasons why monitoring and auditing your IT system is so essential, you have all the incentive you need to initiate them in your workplace. Efficiency and productivity will increase, you won’t have to worry about failing to comply with laws and regulations, you will have a library of accurate information to fall back on, you will learn about potential problems early on, and you will know when to make system upgrades. These are all great motivations to get started. What’s more, there’s no need to spend a lot of money on expensive and complicated monitoring and auditing programs. There are many relatively inexpensive tools and programs available.
Without regular system analysis, your system will malfunction a lot, which will only frustrate you, your staff, and your customers. But, having deep understanding of how your system works is key to identifying flaws. In short, then, just like how important it is to get your car looked over and maintained, your system requires the same amount of care. Doing so will ensure that it runs as smoothly as possible.