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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 effectiveness.


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.


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

For balance of this article, click on the below link:

Lean Manufacturing Articles and click on Series 12

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