THE SYSTEMS AND TECHNOLOGY PLAN
Once the business strategy has been finalized and operations are underway to improve business processes in line with the strategy, a plan for reshaping the company's information systems and technology infrastructure must be developed. This step is usually more delicate and complex than the previous two. The first task may likely be that of an operations assessment, a methodical process of analyzing the comprehensiveness and quality of employee skill sets, business processes, and existing information systems in light of the new strategy and process design. The result is a comprehensive assessment of how effectively a company uses resources and how well operating units perform. Although information technology is considered a relatively small component of operations assessment, network operations and systems management are typically analyzed for
An operational assessment may likely involve benchmarking, the task of providing measurement and comparison against best industry practices to ensure that technology operations remain cost-efficient. Benchmarking periodically measures the cost-efficiency of the technology in place and establishes a documented process to
help businesses manage change. Benchmarking services are typically provided within components of the information system, including mainframe and midrange data centers, wide area networks, applications development, and client/server and Internet computing. In addition, benchmarking analyses can be used to evaluate outsourc-ing/insourcing decisions, rightsizing projections, data center consolidations, and architecture decisions.
NEEDS ASSESSMENT AND REQUIREMENTS DEFINITION
Once the business strategy is published and process improvement activities are underway, many companies have the tendency to jump quickly into the mode of looking at packaged software solutions that seem to fit the newly defined company direction. Due to the large number of competitive solutions on the market and wide variety of overlapping alternatives, moving too quickly into the software assessment phase can severely hamper progress and may even cause the project to disintegrate. A tightly structured project to assess operational needs and accurately define and prioritize information system requirements is essential for success. There is a bit of a dilemma here, since defining system requirements without having extensive knowledge of current trends, concepts, and offerings available on the market may lead to missed opportunities. Since most companies rarely have this expertise in house in the quantity and quality required, it is often advisable to bring in an outside expert to assist the company in understanding and sorting out the various systems and technology alternatives.
The critical task in selecting such expert assistance is finding someone (or a team) well versed in all the alternatives, but at the same time not financially tied to one or two solutions.
To Be Continued