Think about the technology you use in your personal life. How often do you upgrade your smartphone? Probably about every two years.
What about the other technology in your home? Probably not that often. But I’m willing to bet you have a mental inventory of how old each device is. And you’re quick to upgrade when the device starts to fail or not work efficiently.
Are you as vigilant of the technology your agency uses? If not, here’s why you need to audit your agency’s technology.
Why You Should Audit
Technology touches every stage of your customer lifecycle. Think about it.
Your website, social profiles and email marketing system raise awareness and drive traffic.
To convert that traffic into a lead and then quote it takes your insurance agency website (again) and comparative rater.
Nurturing that prospect into a customer are your email marketing and agency management systems.
Retaining that new customer and renewing the policy is again your agency management and email marketing systems.
Asking your best customers for referrals and then marketing to those leads takes your email marketing system, website, and social profiles. And so the cycle continues.
Technology is a critical part of your business. Both in bringing in new business and servicing and retaining your current customers.
But, technology doesn’t last forever. It has a shelf life. At some point the technology you use will become obsolete.
As technology ages the risk for technical failure increases. Best case a failure of your technology will be an annoyance. Worst case can mean catastrophe for your agency. Replacing failed technology and recovering any data loss can take a lot of time and money.
But, if you did an audit of all the technology your agency uses, you can identify potential issues and put a plan and budget in place to address them. You get to be proactive instead of reactive, which can mitigate risk and save you time, money and headache.
How to Audit
Your IT manager or consulting firm should be able to help you with a technology audit. But, there are some steps you can take on your own to evaluate your agency’s technology.
1. Make a list of all the technology anyone in your office uses. This includes
a. Computers, including desktops, laptops, and servers.
b. Software, including software-as-a-service. This can include ubiquitous programs like Microsoft Word or Excel. It also includes your insurance agency software like comparative raters, management systems, CRMs. Basically, any program you use in any workflow.
c. Phones, internet access.
d. Infrastructure equipment like switches, routers, firewalls and wireless networks.
e. Scanners, printers and other peripheral hardware.
g. Mobile and remote access.
h. Any technology procedures and processes like backups.
i. Any other technology items specific to your agency.
2. Note each device or system’s specifications. Manufacturer, serial number (if applicable), last update or patch applied, current version running. Write down when you purchased the device or system. For hardware you want to have an idea of how old the technology is so you can work out a replacement plan and budget. Does any of your technology have a valid warranty? Do you have a contingency plan should a server fail or a computer crashes and you lose critical data?
3. Take a hard look at your security. Are you using two-factor authentication on your systems that provide it? Are you forcing your team to change passwords every 90 days? Are you using strong passwords? If you have remote access, is it necessary? Are you only turning it on when you need it? Are you restricting access to certain parts of your agency to only those who truly need it? Are you using the user restrictions available in your comparative rater or agency management system so only those who need it have full access? All these items can strengthen your agency’s security.
4. Don’t forget your backup procedures. It may not be the most exciting part, but a backup process that works like it should can save your agency. So make sure to test your backup.
5. In the next phase of your audit, you need to look at how you’re using your technology. Are you using it fully? Does it fit into your workflow or are you still some of your processes manual? Why? Does your team know all the functions and capability of your systems? If not, it may be time to look into additional training. Are you using the right insurance agency software? This is a critical step. You need to know what you have and how you could use it better. It will also be a little harder as you’re going to have to research your current software to better understand what each system is capable of.
So you’ve gone through the audit. What do you do with the information you’ve gathered?
There are three goals to a technology audit. First, to understand the status and age of your current technology. Second, to identify how you can improve your use of technology. Finally, to determine where you need to go with your technology.
If you realized your technology is outdated, make a plan and a budget for replacing it. If your current systems are not fully supporting your workflow, start researching alternatives. If you uncovered a hole in your processes that you could improve with technology, explore available options.
Be proactive by doing an audit of your technology. And don’t just do it once. Do it on a regular schedule like once a year.
It will help you in the long run. You’ll save time and money by being able to replace technology before it fails. Not to mention the headache and stress by not having to scramble to recover data and get back up and running.
About the Author
As vice president of marketing, Becky Schroeder oversees ITC’s growth through marketing and drives the overall marketing strategy for the company and its products. Her specialties include advertising, social media, email marketing, content marketing and public relations. Becky has a master’s degree in integrated marketing communication from Emerson College in Boston and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Texas A&M University. Becky is a big Texas A&M football fan and enjoys cooking, reading and spending time with her husband and their three daughters.Follow on Twitter More Content by Becky Schroeder