Your IT infrastructure includes all of the information technology that keeps your business running—hardware, software, and security. That means the various computers used by your team, the different programs they have installed (or that they access online), and the firewalls, spam filters, malware protection, and other things in place to protect you and your company.

Honestly, it can be a lot to keep track of over time and sometimes things can get lost in the shuffle. That’s why it’s critical to assess your overall IT infrastructure periodically.

Here are four questions to ask when assessing your IT infrastructure. 

What do you really need? 

The first step in any assessment should be to talk about what you need. Don’t even look at your existing system yet—only look at what you need as a company. What’s required for your employees to do their work efficiently and effectively? What’s required to properly support your customers from an IT perspective? What technology could set you apart from your competitors? 

What do you need that you don’t currently have? 

Once you’ve identified what your company needs in terms of information technology, then it’s time to talk about what you do or don’t have. Is your current network setup sufficient? Do employees have all of the software and hardware they need? What’s in the cloud versus on your in-office network, and how that does impact everyone’s daily workflow? 

What tasks are consuming the most time for your IT team (or outsourced provider)? 

If your IT team spends a lot of time troubleshooting network issues or upgrading software on specific employee computers, then it’s probably time to look at what infrastructure changes could be made to recoup some of that time. Could moving to a cloud-based software save hours each month on software upgrades? Would installing a more robust network reduce maintenance time each week? 

How prepared are you for the “what ifs” in business? 

Thinking about the “what ifs” is really an exercise in identifying risk for your company. What if the network crashes completely? What if an employee opens an unknown file in an email and gets a virus? What if a fire happens in your office building? All of the what ifs—even the ones you don’t want to think about, like deliberate sabotage by an employee—are important to think about long before they happen. List them all and then put a plan in place that protects you in the event they do happen. 

Yes, completing an IT infrastructure assessment takes an investment of time, but it can save you hours of time by preventing significant problems down the road. If it’s been a while since your last infrastructure assessment, make it a priority soon to ensure your systems keep running smoothly and protect your company.