Managing Technology Within An Organization

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I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.” – From the HAL 9000 computer, 2001: A Space Odyssey

When it comes to  technology  solutions for your business it is easy to get carried away with the latest-and-greatest gadgets and solutions. Everyone wants to have the latest shiny thing. In larger organizations, managing  technology  can become burdensome due to competing and duplicative  technology  requests. Left unfettered, the company  technology  platform can resemble a “spaghetti bowl” over time. Often is the case, new  technology  requests are submitted without any business case to support their investment.

I am a big proponent of having non-technology business leaders play an active role in the determination of the  technology  solutions utilized at an organization. While it is critical to include an IT perspective from a technical interface standpoint, having non-IT personnel drive  technology  solutions often lead to decisions based on thebusiness needs of the organization. As such, any  technology  request would require a business plan to support the investment.

Form A  Technology  Committee: This is the start of your  technology  approval process. Create a  technology  committee that represents various personnel from cross-functional departments. Consider selecting an operations, marketing, accounting,  technology  and finance member to this team. This committee is charged with creating the process for submitting  technology  solution requests for the organization as well as providing the prioritization and ultimately, approval of the requests.

Develop A Submittal Process: Inherent in a well-thought through  technology  strategy for an organization is developing a process for the submission of ideas. Following the “garbage-in, garbage-out” mindset, developing a detailed process for submission will help weed out the “nice to haves” and focus the committee on real, tangible solutions. This process should not only include the  technology  solution identified, but as importantly, the business case for its justification. For approved projects in the queue, a monthly communication should be sent to the organization recapping the activity of the committee.

Focus Your Projects: A  technology  committee creates focus throughout the organization. While it would be great to have every new iteration of  technology  that gets released, that is impractical and costly. The committee can help with providing a high-level perspective on the entire enterprise since it is considering all requests. All to often, departmental requests have a tendency to be created in a silo, with only the impact on that department considered.

Need To Have Vs. Nice To Have: This is a biggie. It is easy to feel that an iPhone 3 becomes obsolete as soon as the iPhone 4 is released, but when the  technology  is run by the committee, the “nice to haves” usually fail due to a lack of business case. The committee allows the organization to run with an unbiased interference with respect to  technology . The committee is charged with improving ROI on  technology  solutions and since it is comprised cross-departmentally, there should be no “pet” projects.

One Project, Big Picture: I have headed a  technology  committee in the past and the greatest “aha” moment for me was the amount of similar  technology  solutions that were being presented from different departments. Had all of these requests been accepted, the organization would have overspent IT dollars as well as created duplicative solutions to the same issues. The committee allows for its members to “rise above” the fray of the organization and view the  technology  requests in the big picture. The committee’s goal was to ensure that any approved request was accretive to the overall company.

Create A Business Case: This is the best way to clear out the clutter. Ask employees what they need from a  technology  solution and the committee will be inundated with ideas. Ask them to submit in a business case (cost justification for the investment) along with their solution and ideas are significantly reduced. The business case for a  technology  solution not only helps in identifying whether the investment is worth it, but also forces the author to think about how this solution interfaces within the existing platform.

Post Analysis: Lastly, carefully measuring the business case proforma against the actual cost/return of the projects not only holds the submitter responsible, but also the committee. The goal with the post analysis isn’t to “call people out”, but rather provide an unbiased financial review of the project. Without this type of post analysis measurement to hold this team accountable, the committee eventually will serve no purpose.

Source by John J Matthews

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