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Why a Communication Audit Is Worth the Hassle

In business, audits tend to represent both a short-term hassle and a chance at positive long-term change. But many organizations may not be aware of the value a communication audit can provide. Defined by content and PR firm Ragan as a tool to "uncover glaring weaknesses" in company communications, an audit can be particularly effective when moving tools to the cloud is the right step.

Three employees sitting at table working with smartphone, laptop, and paper — communication audit
A communication audit can help you decide when it's time to make the switch to the cloud.

In this sense, a communication audit has a lot to offer any business, regardless of their current cloud adoption: Those new to the technology can improve upon their plans, while experienced companies can take the opportunity to ensure old plans fit the company's present direction.

The first step in the process? Searching for signs that an audit is needed. Here are four common tells — and what to do about them.

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1. Silos Have Formed

Information siloing occurs when departments, individual locations, or other business units become insular, often despite employees' best efforts. The enterprise communication tools available to personnel are often to blame when siloing occurs; without technological help, employees find it difficult to communicate with those in different roles.

Fortunately, a communication audit's findings can go a long way toward breaking the silo walls. Audits help uncover new ways to implement cloud communication technology and give the organization insight on policy changes that must happen in order for current cloud communication tools to work effectively. In either event, organizations without the technology can expect to find a unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) platform near the top of the recommendations, given the technology's focus on uniting both communication tools and the people who use them.

Cloud is flexible, scalable, and powerful enough as a communications backbone to make an audit worth it.

2. IT Suspects Shadow IT Is Rampant

Businesses usually discuss shadow IT — the tendency for employees to use tools they find most efficient, officially sanctioned or otherwise — in terms of its privacy and productivity risks. It can also be a guidepost to innovation, provided companies respond fast enough. A communication audit can help in both ways.

IT should be a key audit partner if shadow IT is a concern. Technologies like SD-WAN, which give technical personnel greater insight into network activity, can also be of great help. Which unofficial tools see widespread use? How could similar solutions be implemented in cloud planning? The answers can have a dramatic impact on productivity from day one — another sign of the transformative effect a communication audit can offer.

3. Communicating Creates Extra Work

The threat of current tools getting in the way of operations should be a major concern come audit time. If the solutions in place are making the job harder, the audit should uncover flaws and help the organization find ways to improve upon weaknesses.

This point is especially important considering the inherent disconnect between the people who implement tools and the people who use them. The best way to find weaknesses is simply to ask. Giving employees an open space to voice concerns and point out inefficiencies can be hugely helpful in guiding decision-makers toward a better solution. A business currently using a commercial IM solution or social media messenger for inter-site chatter, for example, may use employee feedback during an audit to determine that the business would be better served with chat capabilities integrated into a UCaaS platform.

4. Cloud Isn't Prominent in Communication Planning

Cloud is flexible, scalable, and powerful enough as a communications backbone to make an audit worth it.

Take mobility, a business need that will only grow as employees demand more working flexibility and a greater work-life balance, as an example. Using cloud communications tools, employees can carry entire communications platforms across a spectrum of devices. Agents in a real estate office, for instance, could have their "desk" number ring to their smartphones, laptops, tablets, and any other devices in their company-owned stables with a relatively simple upgrade. Sales personnel can access and modify important documents directly from the field, removing the need to physically be in the office when a new customer joins. Thus, an audit is a critical step to discovering both needs and capabilities that would've remained hidden without the extra effort.

Taking the Plunge

Communicating doesn't have to be a chore or a burden for businesses. While audit time might take time and energy in the short term, the long-term benefits almost always justify the burden — especially when it comes to something as important as basic communication. Whether your concerns lie in inter-employee communication or customer-facing chatter, the importance of a communication audit should be clear. Take a thorough look at your current communications practices and solutions, with a focus on their ability to enhance productivity. The changes you uncover could set off a transformation that benefits the business for decades to come.

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