It's a basic human instinct to focus on the present in order to make positive, lasting changes later on in life. It just makes sense - why wouldn’t we assess our current behaviors and actions to figure out how to live up to our full potential? This is the driving concept behind a cybersecurity gap analysis.
Although the whole idea of “focus on the present to make changes in the future” may seem like common sense, a lot of companies have never even considered conducting an official gap analysis to see where the holes are in their IT strategy.
Maybe it’s because there are some challenges involved, but the overall benefits outweigh those by a long-shot.
Whether you’re interested in gap analysis for security purposes, you want to know how a new product launch is performing, or you like the idea of getting a “big picture” assessment of company performance, there’s a lot that it can do for you.
What is a Gap Analysis?
A gap analysis is just that; it’s a process that analyzes the “gaps” in the system. More specifically, it’s an analysis of current processes, technologies, and resources to see how business goals and expectations are living up to reality.
Once those gaps are identified, it’s more possible to make positive, necessary changes.
Every gap analysis should have 3 questions in mind:
- Where are we now?
- Where do we want to go?
- How do we get there?
These questions make it obvious that it’s not only about pinpointing the gaps, but also figuring out how to fill them. By doing this, it’s possible to compare performance to potential and take the necessary steps to reach that potential.
Chances are you’re already performing the basic steps of gap analyses or some form of process improvement in your day to day lives, but carrying one out for a business is an in-depth process.
Why Might You Need to Carry Out a Gap Analysis?
In general, a gap analysis can help you to identify what’s missing. But the overall goal is to help you to determine why there is a gap in the first place and how to fill it to make positive change.
These gaps can come in many shapes and sizes and happen within any department. Maybe overall project management is lacking, human resources is slacking, or your IT help desk is struggling.
There might even be some gaps that you don’t know exist. For this reason, carrying out a gap analysis is never a bad idea.
Even though gap analysis can be applied to all types of business processes, it’s especially important for a company’s information technology department and cyber security needs.
Developing a foolproof cybersecurity plan isn’t just about meeting full potential. It’s about keeping a company’s data secure, and we can all agree that this is vital in today’s world where gaps or holes in a company’s cyber security plan can put the entire business at risk.
Steps to Perform a Successful Gap Analysis
Focusing on the IT department is a great starting point. A network with gaps and holes is basically the same as inviting hackers in and giving them free reign over your company’s confidential information.
But the good news is that performing a gap analysis is a major step in combating cybersecurity threats.
Before jumping headfirst into analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of your IT department, the first step is to create a template.
Every gap analysis template should include 4 steps, starting with identifying the current state of things and ending with a plan to move forward.
Identify Where You Currently Stand
The only way to fill gaps and make improvements is to have a full understanding of where you currently stand. The very first step is to identify the area that needs to be analyzed, and then use the necessary tools and resources to analyze it.
Maybe you’re thinking that identifying the current state of things is all about figures and finances, which is often the case, but not always.
In some gap analyses, it does make sense to look at the figures for financial growth and revenue, but in other cases (say in the IT department), you might be better off looking at data for cyber security instances. Whatever info you end up analyzing, the entire point to get a big picture view of your current stance.
Determine Where You Want to Be
Now that you’ve looked long and hard at your current state, the next step is to establish your ideal future state. In other words, if everything worked according to plan and there were no gaps in the system, where would you be?
Identify the Gap and Document It Thoroughly
Now it’s time to bridge the gap by comparing where you are (your current state) with where you want to be. This step is all about identifying the gap, and it’s the perfect opportunity to figure out why it’s there in the first place.
Plan Steps for Improvement
Once you know why there are gaps and hopefully have a clear understanding of how they got there, the final step is to develop a plan to close them. It’s important that you be strategic and specific and base all of your plans for improvement on the information that was discovered in steps 1-3.
Benefits of a Gap Analysis
With the rise of cyber threats and data breaches against both major enterprises and small businesses, gap analysis benefits go way beyond simply making operational improvements. The greatest benefit is that it can help you to bridge the gap between your current state of cyber security with where you need to be.
Cyber threats are even more prevalent for companies that have implemented BYOD policies and remote work models. Eventually as a gap widens, these threats will creep through the cracks and could potentially cause irreversible damage. But as you now know, it’s possible to prevent this from happening through gap analysis.
The takeaway here is that carrying out a gap analysis can make a huge difference for your business in the long run - especially in terms of security. If you team up with a trusted MSP, it’s not only possible to bridge the gap, but also trim down your overall IT budget in the process.
If you're interested in a fast and thorough gap analysis for your business, contact our team below!