How to evaluate the technology needs

By: Daniel Alarcon

(Daniel Alarcon - daalarcon@yahoo.com)

"Should we invest in new technology?"

"It is necessary to upgrade our servers and software?"

"Since our competitors changed their technology, do we have to do it?

"Is this investment profitable?"

"Do we have the right hardware and software for our business?

These are among many questions that you may have asked or you will ask in the short term. Technology needs are growing as the business does. A few years ago a small computer with 64KB of memory and 10MB of hard disk space was enough for our operation. Right now our needs to manage more information, access to internet, mailing, management of pictures, sounds and video, plus large amounts of data; have moved us to more complete and modern equipments.

IT Technology is changing so fast that we can afford it. However we can prepare for such changes, doing:

1. Systems analysis at least twice a year. Review your storage space needs, review about software versions installed, licensing and maintenance.

2. Work in an expansion plan. Unless your business is close to close (I do hope is not your case),you might ask your IT responsible to prepare a plan for the following 2 or 3 years, stating which hardware and software will be needed; based on business strategy of course.

3. Stay on line with new trends. In some cases we better choose to be a follower, after many of our friends or competitors have tested the new hardware or software.

4. Assure that IT helps your business. If your have hear "it can be included in the program", "that option can not be programmed", "such service can not be added", or another type of tech excuse, something is going wrong. There is no chance for adapting business to systems, Systems (HW and SW) must be developed according to business and be opened for business growth. Just take a look at banks business. Systems now allow them to continue business in their buildings and through internet, phone and fax.

5. Decide about Software. A decision about purchasing and installing a software package should be well analyzed, preferable in conjunction with your IT manager and a consultant. These investments are high and therefore a good analysis should be done.

6. Audit the systems. This will help you to know the status about: security, documentation, procedures, confidentiality, processes and more.

Do not leave IT as a staff or support only, NO, IT as a whole must be part of your strategy and must catalyze your business and the technology needs are present in every area of the company, therefore the evaluation of these needs and the solutions should be a strategic issue.

Technology
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