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Business Systems Audit

An internal study or consultancy can establish the current position of the corporate IT and the strategy that determines its maintenance and enhancement. Similarly, the Information Systems (IS) needs of the business can be assessed, which can reveal multiple and almost certainly disparate databases and file structures and systems which are constrained by what has gone before.

There will also be the varying definitions of data, even within a corporately bounded study, as most in-house systems do not maintain data compatibility below the highest level of definition.

For example, a simple need of the staff employed can have three different answers; Human Resources may calculate on the last working day of the month, Finance on how many people were paid on the final Thursday of the month and Facilities on the number of valid Building Passes in circulation on the first day of the month.

Major initiatives, of the 90’s, such as the CALS program, (Computer-aided Acquisition of Life-time Support) originating in the US DoD and then sponsored by the Department of Commerce, have given rise to the development of standards which are commercially accepted in the marketplace, for operating systems, hardware platforms, communications and applications. Examples are office and desk-top processing software to facilitate formatting for printing, the plotting and transmission of graphics, protocols for electronic transmission, data compression, through "tiling", imaging and the everyday Fax. These provide a basis for ensuring that all future purchase of systems or infrastructure development, meet the medium as well as the short-term needs of the company.

The client’s version of these standards should be part of every purchase specification. They will maximise the potential for convergence in software or hardware purchases, and will have no additional cost if sent to non-IT related suppliers. They can lay a foundation for future moves toward electronic transfer of information between Client and Supplier, which whilst far short of a full implementation of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), can provide benefits of speed and cheapness of information transfer and manipulation, whilst reducing the volumes of paper in circulation and expensive requiring filing and often, even more expensive filing space. With the correctly developed standards, this benefit can usually be obtained for no incremental cost on purchases.

We have developed Survey Checklists to help acquire the essential information at the outset of an assignment.   See System Acquisition Checklist and System IS/IT Checklist