When selected properly, technologies (i.e. hardware, software, etc.) can create competitive advantages for organizations. However, this selection process can be one of the most daunting undertakings that a business will face.
Conducting an IT assessment provides a structured approach for companies to better understand how to undertake this selection to ensure a positive outcome and how to build a strong, better performing IT function.
Why Conduct an IT Assessment?
First, an IT assessment greatly improves the odds of identifying the right solutions and structure for supporting those solutions. While organizations recognize that they have a problem, it is not always clear what an ideal state could be nor is it clear how to get there. Often companies confuse the symptoms with the cause of a problem.
Conducting an IT Assessment – a Fours Step Process
Step 1| Discovery
The first step in picking the right technology is Discovery. The purpose of the Discovery phase is to deeply understand the organization’s existing reality, the problem(s) they wish to solve , and the identification of the people needed to solve the issues.
Understanding the Current IT Environment
An organization needs to have a full understanding of its technology situation . This includes both the solutions that are currently being utilized as well as the people, systems and processes used to connect those systems.
A few questions to consider in this phase are:
- What information/data is important?
- Who are the application/data system owners and what are their expectations for these applications/systems?
- How do all the systems integrate and how are these systems supported including what is the source of the data?
Understanding the Problem
Next, your organization needs to understand the problem, both in terms of the business and in terms of the end-user experience.
For example, your business problem might be that the organization is not generating enough new business leads, and you are not sure why, what to do about it, or where to improve. In the same instance, the end-user problem might be that they do not know what works and what does not, so the sales reps in the organization might just be making an educated guess.
The problem might boil down to collecting and sharing data readily throughout the sales organization so you can make better decisions and drive more revenue.
By combining both a business problem and the end-user problem, the organization can better understand the actual problem and begin to solve it.
Finally, the organization needs to better involve its people. That end-user insight only comes through dialogue and canvassing them for new ideas and then linking it to the high-level business problem.
Once there is a complete view of the organization’s information technology environment, a organization can then move on to the next step: Analysis.
Step 2| Analysis
By the end of the Discovery stage, the business should be positioned with the information regarding its current state and the desired direction / end state.
At that point, a company must analyze the functionality that exists within the business as well as how well it is being applied. This analysis includes understanding where processes are broken/disconnected and where data could be ‘leaking’ or not captured.
You may need to look at how the technology is being applied at a granular level. As an example, are end-users avoiding features and functions? If so, why?
The reason to investigate these problems is to determine the level of complexity of the solution required. In many cases, organizations are not fully leveraging their existing portfolio of solutions.
It is also likely that there are missing pieces within a company’s technology landscape. That is where an IT assessment will focus and help identify the investment requirements to achieve the business objectives. The end state of the Assess and Analysis stage is an understanding of credible and prioritized options to fill the gaps with the pros and cons of each option.
Step 3| Define & Develop
The next step is to Define and Develop. At this stage, a high-level business goal and a good understanding of the problem and environment are known.
The next step is to build a vision for the end state, specifically outlining the technologies that will drive the business forward.
Often, there is a misalignment between the Business, the IT team, and the overall information technology strategies. Partly this is due to early research being completed by technology teams, but the entire project really needs to be focused on the business needs and operational requirements.
As such, it is necessary to develop and define the technology vision through the lens of the business.
Step 4| Document
The final step is to capture all the work in a well-documented plan. The final document should include:
- A high-level overview;
- A succinct explanation of the problems being solved including the investment ask;
- All the details of the implementation and deployment including the key business and technology resources; and
- Details on project timelines and ownership.
The final piece of documentation is verbal communication. It is critical to ensure that the whole team understands the high-level message to capture the interest and attention of key executives. Executive buy-in is critical at this stage. Finally, it is important to be ready to iterate as required based on executive feedback.
As businesses get more complex, manual processes and systems become increasingly error-prone and risky, not to mention expensive and slow. The ‘right’ technology solutions help automate, streamline, and refine while enabling business users to do meaningful, high-value work.
By undertaking these four steps, an organization will move toward its business goals by building and then executing its information technology assessment plan. Once this assessment is complete, the next steps involve pursuing the specific technology needed to procure, document detailed requirements, evaluate vendors, and negotiate contracts as well as building an IT team with skills aligned to the overall strategic direction. Once vendors and solutions are selected, then an organization can embark on a consultative, collaborative approach to design and implementation.
Ultimately a successful information technology implementation requires a broader focus on process and organizational design. To achieve business value, consider how the technology change will drive changes in your metrics and support models.
The Litcom Approach
Discovering potential issues and risks before they can cause a project to fail or be delayed—is the driving force behind an IT assessment. Litcom’s IT assessment not only plays an integral role in providing a snapshot of a company’s technology capability; it also provides the organization with perspective on the effectiveness of its systems, staff, budget, vendors, procedures, and company policies. At Litcom, we recognize that maximizing an organization’s technology investment and efficiently supporting the business is the path to competitive advantage. We can help you improve technology ROI and align IT investments with your overall business strategy.
Litcom’s IT assessment service will help improve technology ROI and align IT investments with overall business strategy. Our assessment will help you better understand and act to:
- Ensure effective leadership, management, and governance of the IT function;
- Reduce IT risks and exposures;
- Control costs and decrease project and other investment overruns;
- Improve security and disaster recovery processes; and
- Build improved capability to successfully deliver projects on time and on budget.
Contact us today for more information.