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06

Aug

Keeping up with the Joneses in the IT World

 

What to consider when you’re considering a technology upgrade

With Microsoft’s biggest ever product and services launch on the horizon, we may be asking ourselves whether or not to jump on the band wagon and surf the latest technology wave.

Investing in and deploying the latest technologies (whether it’s hardware or software) can be a time-consuming exercise, particularly for large organisations.

These days cloud computing can take a lot of the pain out of the upgrade process. The responsibility for the platform is managed remotely so we no longer share the pain with our technology specialists.  In the future, upgrades are likely to appear relatively seamless for organisations that are leveraging applications in the cloud.

Microsoft “Windows To Go” also makes it easier for us to move between machines (whether at work, home or other locations) and simply plug in a USB drive to run our preferred operating system.

 

What drives our decision to upgrade (or invest in new technology)?

There are a variety of reasons why we choose to upgrade or purchase new technology. Here is a list of potential reasons why we may decide to upgrade:

  • To replace obsolete/unsupported technologies
  • To reduce costs
  • To resolve existing issues
  • To leverage new features and capabilities
  • To maximise value from your technology investment
  • It’s a pre-requisite for deploying or upgrading other technologies
  • To improve efficiencies and productivity
  • To maintain/improve our competitive advantage (e.g. our competitors may take advantage of the latest technologies to streamline their business or drive profits and we may want to match or be ahead of their game plan)

 

What should we consider prior to making the decision to upgrade?

To navigate the many influences of a consumer driven society and avoid impulse decision making, consider:

  • An IT roadmap

Formulating an IT Roadmap can be an effective means to validate our IT purchasing decisions and ensure that they align with our long-term business goals.

Where we’ve already established an IT roadmap, it’s important to review the roadmap on a regular basis.  It is a good idea to review the IT roadmap before making the decision to investment in the latest technologies, to ensure that the investment aligns with our planned future state. Roadmap reviews should also be undertaken when there are significant changes or influences (e.g. significant changes in technology evolution) that may affect the organisation’s short or long-term goals.

To formulate an effective IT roadmap, we need to:

  • Understand our current state
  • Identify goals and requirements
  • Identify pain points
  • Define future state
  • Define plan to achieve future state
  • Define scope and approach

Where there are multiple platforms leveraged within an organisation, you may decide to formulate a high level IT roadmap, along with additional roadmaps for specific platforms.

At Intergen we have a team of consultants who are experienced in working with organisations to formulate IT roadmaps.

  • Cost/Benefit Analysis

When we’ve established that the investment aligns with our IT roadmap, we should also consider completing a cost/benefit analysis to ensure that the organisation gains an acceptable return on investment. Included in the costs are licencing costs, deployment costs (including testing of all applications or interfaces that may be impacted) and operational costs.

  • Impact assessment

This involves assessing the impact of the change on existing applications and interfaces, business processes, users, training, support services. An assessment should be made on the level of testing required to ensure that the potential impact on existing applications and interfaces and business processes is eliminated or minimised (or managed at an acceptable level).

  • Risk assessment

Assess the risks associated with introduction new technology or upgrading existing technology.

 

How to realise the full benefits of our technology investment?

Having made the decision to upgrade or invest in new technology, we need to look beyond the technical deployment plan to determine how we plan to make the most of our investment.

  • Measures of success

We need to understand our objectives and how we measure the success of the new technology. We need to identify whether we’ve achieved the expected return on investment. It helps to have a baseline to measure against and understand the relevant tangible and intangible benefits we expect to achieve. Surveys (user feedback) and trend analysis reporting are just a couple of the ways in which we can measure success.

  • Governance model/plan

The Governance Model/Plan provides a framework for the on-going management, maintenance, support and enhancement of our IT investments.

  • Change management plan

The change management plan is not necessarily a precursor to the decision to upgrade, however it is something that should be considered as part of the upgrade process where the upgrade impacts on users.

Where the rate of change is high or impacts on business processes or users, then an assessment is needed to see whether the organisation can cope with the rate/level of change introduced. A change management plan would need to be developed to identify how to effectively manage the change process.

  • User adoption strategy/training strategy

This helps us to understand our users’ skill levels and the most effective approach for up-skilling them in new technologies and business processes. This may involve formal or informal training, self-paced learning, coaching, tailored online help, cheat sheets, checklists and process diagrams.

With so many technologies on offer now, or just around the corner, it can be easy to overlook the bigger picture. If you haven’t already done so, now would be a good time to formulate or review your IT roadmap and assess which technologies form part of it, and how you plan to achieve the highest return on your technology investments.

 

Posted by: Bernardine Slagter, Developer Consultant | 06 August 2012

Tags: Microsoft, technology upgrade


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