If you are tasked with investigating new technology to aid your team and company, it’s fun to learn about the coolest new tools. Yes, you want to capture a competitive edge. However, your company can’t grow unless those tools match your needs.
How to conduct a technology needs analysis for your company
The decision to conduct a technology needs analysis may be driven by many different issues. The decision could have been prompted by the concerns of management or the concerns of technology users. The pressure could be coming from inside the company, or from customers, or from competitors. Sometimes, change has to be made because of regulatory pressure. And sometimes, the current technology just doesn’t work anymore.
Most companies will need to a team working together to pull together the final recommendation. This team can be led by someone from the information technology department, or it may be led by a business analyst. At the very least the team should include a professional business analyst from inside or outside the company. Technology needs are driven by business processes, and technology may be a small part of the solution your company needs. A business analyst can spot business processes and workflows which are ill-designed or unstable. New technology is unlikely to resolve these problems, although the technology installation process may accompany an overhaul of business processes.
Step 1: Determine the breadth of your analysis
Will the technology needs analysis cover one department or a larger portion of the company? Will the way data flows around the company be affected? Will it impact customers, vendors or partners? How will unanticipated complications be handled? Scope creep, or the unplanned enlargement of a project, is best handled by an upfront strategy to prevent it or to refer the issues to management.
Step 2: Interview the people who will be affected by the new information technology
Unless they waive their rights, interviews usually start with the managers who are responsible for producing results. They may identify important constraints, but more importantly, they understand the growth and development plans for their areas. Then the users will usually be surveyed to unearth their needs, concerns, and preferences
Often, companies fail to fully investigate how new technology will impact their customers. The sales and services departments may be able to suggest key customers who can provide insight. Plus, consider key vendors with whom you share data.
Be sure and ask everyone about information sharing. What data do they need to receive to make a decision? What information do they need to record for future reference? What specifications do they share, and are they sufficient? How can better information sharing make everyone more successful?
Step 3: Pinpoint the information technology problems
Make a list of the problems the team has uncovered. Some will be out of scope, but the more you document, the further along your company will be in finding ways to improve.
- Chronic problems
- Manual workarounds
- Outdated and crippled equipment
- Under-utilized equipment
- Data security issues
- Training needs
- Shared data that must be converted and edited
- Poor match between power of system and needs of users
- Legacy systems no longer being updated
- Under-trained staff
At E6 Solutions, we take a holistic approach. So we start by considering your organization’s philosophy in dealing with customers. We strive to have a deep understanding of how your business operates. When investigating new technology needs, the needs come before the technology.
How to avoid rabbit holes
Any investigation can get twisted up in extended analysis, following up on every manager’s suggestion, trying to forecast the implications of change, etc.
Karolis Urbonas, Global Head of Machine Learning & Science at Amazon Web Services, has warned his staff to focus on the decision which has to be made. Which tool? Integrate or replace? How much training? Results timeline? Every new hour of research needs to be linked to a significantly better or faster decision.
Every part of the investigation should contribute to making the best decision, efficiently. At E6 Solutions our 30 years of experience will help your investigation go smoothly. And you’ll end up with a solution that benefits your organization holistically.