The word “audit” itself conjures up visions of a meeting room where outside accountants work quietly with grim, stoic looks of eternal disappointment on their faces, eager to deliver terrible news. A technology audit doesn’t have to be that way, but can deliver some huge advantages to publications.
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In our experience, a technology audit has rarely been done before cost-cutting decisions are made. As a result, over 80% of the time, the publication ends up cutting the wrong technologies and paying more down the road. Here’s why you should do a technology audit before any job, infrastructure or investments are cut.
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The benefits of a technology audit
Not too long ago, IT meant desktop computers, server rooms and software licenses and it was all relatively easy to manage. Now we have the Cloud, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device, like smartphones or tablets) and Software-as-a-Service solutions that bypass the IT department almost entirely.
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In our biggest audit last year, we had a publisher that was spending over $500,000 a year on external SaaS solutions that the IT department didn’t know about and the finance department had no means to effectively track. We were able to reduce that spend to $150,000, immediately saving the company $350,000. Not all newspapers or magazine publishers face this kind of situation, but chances are, you’re paying for software and services you don’t even know about or need.
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Do the audit before you cut and slash
It’s tempting to just look at overall technology costs and site with your CIO or IT department head and make cuts. A department head can feel significant pressure at such an approach and will look for sacrifices. If you have a comprehensive audit in front of you, more informed decisions can be made, because an audit, properly done, can provide critical context.
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What an audit looks like
It shouldn’t be overly complicated. An Excel workbook is all you need. If you’re using GSuite, a simple SpreadSheet is great because it’s easier to share among teams and departments.
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You’ll want to capture your on-premise technology, from desktops to software licenses. If you’re larger, you’ll likely be using an ITIL best practice or similar and have software that tracks these assets automatically. This can be input to an Excel sheet fairly quickly.
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The tricky part is other departments and the tools, software and applications they’ve licensed or purchased without the help or input of the IT folks. We can pretty much guarantee this has and is happening.
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DIY or outside help?
An internal audit can be done, but there can be risks. Office politics, frustration with the IT department being seen as closed and overbearing are common issues. If you’re doing this internally, make sure the CEO and/or COO are working with the CIO or IT department head to drive it. Executive sponsorship is critical to ensure people know this is serious.
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You can also hire an outside IT firm to conduct the audit. This still needs executive sponsorship, but an outside firm has no bias and can help bypass office politics and silos that are always present. Make sure the outside consultant understands the publishing business though. In addition, it’s better to choose a firm that doesn’t have the ulterior motive of selling you new hardware or software as they can bias the audit towards getting more money out of you. We’ve seen it happen.
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Concluding
By doing an IT audit and being sure to count all those SaaS tools being used without IT’s knowledge, you’ll have a much better picture of your actual technology landscape and how it’s being used.
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You’ll be able to make more informed decisions and the right cuts without ending up having to spend more later.
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Have questions? Feel free to talk to us. We can conduct audits without ever coming in to your offices as well. Oh, and we’re technology agnostic since we don’t sell any software or hardware or do implementations so we’re neutral….sorry, we had to add the pitch 🙂

About the Author Giles Crouch

Giles is managing partner of Ekspansiv, a global digital business advisory firm to news media companies . A polymath with over 20 years experience in the digital world, Giles brings together marketing communications, digital anthropology and digital behavioural economics for client projects. He has extensive experience with news media and publishing. Giles is also regularly interviewed by media regarding technology and industry trends. He has completed over 300 digital research projects for clients around the world. Giles co-founded the Ice Awards, an advertising creative awards program in 2001. His clients have included, newspaper, magazine and book publishers as well as pure-play digital media companies. He occasionally works as interim CIO or CDO and senior marketing guidance.

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