Business Practices

Automating Technology Audits

Throughout the country, schools have significantly ramped up their use of technology as a teaching tool and as an administrative asset for teachers, administrators and students alike. But along with that increased adoption comes an increased scope of work for business and IT departments whose personnel must manage, secure and optimize the ever-increasing array of devices across their network infrastructure.

One of the first and most important overall steps in the automating process is to conduct a technology audit.

What is a technology audit? Simply put, it is the process of identifying and confirming the status and location of all of an organization’s information technology assets. This includes individual desktops, notebooks and tablet computers — which, depending on your district, may be Apple products, Chrome products, Linux-based computers or others, as well as their component parts — and server computers.

Other hardware and accessories also need to be audited, including printers, networking equipment and presentation equipment such as projectors and electronic whiteboards. In some cases, assets such as telecommunications equipment and security systems can also be included in an IT audit.

Confirming proper software licensing is also a significant part of a technology audit. Unlicensed software installations can expose your district to expensive fines and even civil litigation. Installed software that has not been licensed or approved for use by your institution can not only violate licensing agreements, but can place the security of your network and your data at risk.

Regular technology audits can improve compliance, protect assets, minimize unauthorized installations and provide a blueprint for future upgrades and replacements. However, conducting these audits manually can impose a significant additional burden on your already thinly stretched staff.

Software for a Technology Audit

IT asset management has become more complicated, especially now with the technology readiness requirements of Common Core. Using software to manage IT audits offers a number of benefits:

Automation. Automating your IT audits will free up significant amounts of staff time.

Software Management. An automated technology audit solution can discover and monitor all the software on all computers within the organization, then provide the tools for optimum software management.

Proactive IT Support. Using an automated technology audit solution can improve customer service. Technicians can identify issues before a teacher or faculty member has to put in a help desk ticket.

Asset Security. Effective technology audit automation software will identify all the PC hardware on the client network and then monitor it daily to ensure it remains there.

Network and Data Security. Many technical problems and the related costs occur as a result of the installation of unauthorized software. An effective IT audit automation tool allows software to be blacklisted, gray-listed or white-listed.

Strategic Planning/Emerging Trends. Having an excellent and accurate database of all hardware and software is a critical foundation for short- and long-term planning. An audit system should provide excellent support for planning next year’s budget as well as multiyear technology plans.

How to Get Started with Audit Software

If you’re convinced that technology audit automation will benefit your district, you may be wondering where to begin. To find the best product to meet your needs, follow these five steps:

Step 1: Look for a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution that lowers total cost of ownership.

Step 2: Work with your vendor to ensure all assets and IP addresses are imported into software to automate and streamline audits.

Step 3: Appoint an audit manager to manage the process.

Step 4: Conduct audits and monitor software on a regular basis to monitor hardware, software licenses, and other devices.

Step 5: Analyze time saved through reporting functionality — assess, evaluate and improve!

Automating technology audits can eliminate the expense and errors of manual audits, automatically manage your district’s software licensing and hardware deployment, improve the security of the district’s technology investment, and help you comply with applicable fiduciary regulations. In today’s technological and budgetary climate, a technology audit automation solution is an essential element of your business and technology plan.

— This article is excerpted from the March 2016 issue of School Business Affairs, published by ASBO International. www.asbointl.org.

This article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of School Planning & Management.

About the Author

Sam Zippin is public K-12 industry marketing manager for SchoolDude. He can be reached at sam.zippin@schooldude.com.

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