Technology Planning in the New Millennium, with Geoff Wold and Jeffrey Locketz


Presented by Geoff Wold and Jeffrey Locketz, LBL Technology Partners, a division of Lurie Besikof Lapidus & Company, LLP

Welcome everyone!

Today we welcome the presentation team of Geoff Wold and Jeff Locketz of Lurie Besikof Lapidus & Co, the LBL Technology Partners. They have authored over 20 books on various technology topics and hold several certifications.

I'm going to turn the floor over to them now - Welcome gentlemen!

Jeff Locketz & Geoff: Thank you.

This session will describe the technology planning process from a methodology perspective. There is not adequate time to discuss specific types of technology or emerging technologies. The technology planning methodology presented in this session is a cost-effective approach that results in documented strategies and informed decisions. It has been successful in hundreds of organizations. Geoffrey Wold has written over 20 books on various technology planning and management considerations.

The Importance Of Technology Planning

Using the most appropriate information systems and technology is more critical today than it was ten years ago because the future of a company is increasingly dependent on its technology and information systems. To compete effectively in the evolving market, businesses need timely and accurate management information. In addition, the company that takes full advantage of automation and technology will ensure that it is in a better competitive position in the future.

Equipment and software obsolescence is a continuing concern. In ten years, systems have progressed through five generations of computer hardware and indications are that changes will accelerate as technology advances. Software advances have generally been much slower, but have included many more vendors.

Organizations may fail in their technology planning efforts because of one or more of the following factors:

  • Improper definition of systems objectives and requirements
  • Failure to involve both management and users at adequate levels
  • Underestimating the costs and effort required for implementation
  • Failure to adequately plan for expansion
  • Failure to evaluate software properly
  • These factors can be minimized through the use of structured methodologies, such as the techniques described in this session.

    The Objectives of Technology Planning

    The major objectives of technology planning are to review the existing manual and automated systems used within your company, identify opportunities for improvement and recommend the best strategies to meet the short-term and long-range requirements of the business. The purpose is to:

  • Achieve business strategies through the use of information technology
  • Utilize an extension of the strategic business planning process
  • The computer environment has been subject to rapid change due to the technological advances associated with the industry. The technology planning process is especially important in view of the increasing dependence on automated systems and procedures in most organizations. Because resources are limited, a plan to optimize information technology expenditures is needed.

    Does anyone have any questions so far?

    Blake Denton: How much out of date will my hardware be in three years

    Jeff Locketz & Geoff: That depends on the model of the hardware, and the changes in your organization. It also depends on where in the model curve you bought it.

    Ok we will continue.

    Definition
    Technology planning is the process of:

    Establishing technology goals and objectives
    Defining strategies and policies to achieve these technology objectives
    Developing detailed plans to ensure that the technology strategies are implemented

    The Benefits of Technology Planning

  • Well defined objectives, and requirements
  • An orderly, well-planned analysis of systems alternatives
  • Time savings through a structured approach
  • An education process for the organization
  • A better understanding of the capabilities, benefits and costs of alternatives
  • Definition of systems and technology that satisfy both the short-term and long-range objectives and requirements of the organization
  • More likely achievement of desired results
  • Improved effectiveness of technology expenditures
  • Increased user satisfaction
  • More responsive and effective technology
  • Improved direction for technology
  • Better use of technology to solve business problems
  • Improved accountability for systems
  • Better utilization of personnel resources
  • More effective management decisions
  • Better integration of systems, especially across multiple platforms and operating environments
  • Potential for a more effective response to unexpected business changes
  • LBL Tips for Success

  • Businesses that plan do better
  • Businesses that do not plan follow their plan do better
  • Use the plan as a road map
  • Focus on key business strategies as the starting point of the planning process
  • Analyze the current situation of the organization and the surrounding business climate
  • Plan quickly and approximately rather than slow and meticulously
  • Demonstrate business value in the planning process
  • Ensure that technology is a tool in obtaining the desired solution, not the solution itself
  • Recognize that planning is a dynamic, not static, process
  • Prioritize technology initiatives
  • Assign the planning responsibility based on competence versus availability
  • Use technology planning tools such as:

  • Questionnaires
  • Data gathering forms
  • Software especially developed for the technology planning process
  • Are there any other benefits anyone out there can think of?

    Technology Planning Methodology

    To accomplish the objectives of technology planning projects, we recommend performing the project in a phased approach as follows:

  • Project Management
  • Project Initiation
  • Technical Assessment
  • User Assessment
  • Needs Analysis
  • Research and Analysis
  • Plan Development and Reporting
  • PROJECT MANAGEMENT

    1. Obtain top management support for the project.

    2. Work with a Planning Team.

    LBL Tips for Success - Prerequisites

  • Knowledge of the industry
  • Knowledge of the company
  • Understanding of IT concepts
  • Team Members
  • Management, Operations, Key Departments
  • IT
  • Internal Audit
  • Are there other people that should be involved in the process?

    3. Prepare a project work plan, including:
    Task number, Task description, Responsible party(s), Task start date, Task completion date, Estimated time

    4. Facilitate meetings, provide counsel on the process and priorities, and secure consensus as appropriate.

    5. Prepare periodic project status reports, including:
    Project activities completed during the current period, Project activities to be completed during future periods, Potential project concerns, Preliminary findings/recommendations as appropriate, Project schedule update, Other considerations

    6. Submit the project status reports to top management.

    PROJECT INITIATION

    7. Meet with top management to better understand the strategic plans of your company. In addition, you should obtain their input on future informational needs and technology objectives.

    8. Develop a data gathering questionnaire related to existing and future information systems and technology needs. The questionnaire can be used as a guide for conducting departmental interviews. The questionnaires will also standardize the process and facilitate consistency of data gathering.

    9. Conduct an initial planning meeting with management, technical, and user (departmental) personnel to explain:
    Objectives of the project, Needs assessment methodology, Technology planning process, Responsibilities of all parties involved in the project, Project organization, Timetables, Data gathering questionnaires, Other related considerations

    10. Obtain and review the background information

    TECHNICAL ASSESSMENT

    11. Perform a technical assessment including an analysis of:
    Technical staffing levels, Technical skills, Hardware speeds and capacities, Software age, Integration, Programming languages, ODBC, Data warehousing, Relational database, Proprietary tools, Documentation, Software modifications, Daily processing problems, IT controls, Policies and procedures, Standards, Centralized vs. decentralized, Single vs. multiple hardware vendors, Single vs. multiple RDBMS, Communications strategy, E-commerce strategy

    12. Review the present hardware platforms, systems architectures and processing environments. You should obtain an understanding of the current information systems environments through interviews with management and available technical support personnel. The review should include:
    Hardware configuration, Systems software, Application software, Planned or anticipated equipment and software additions or upgrades.

    USER ASSESSMENT

    13. Schedule various meetings with personnel from each department and operating area in your Company to review and discuss existing and future technology needs. A combination of group workshops and individual interviews can be used.

    14. Meet with the personnel identified above to review existing manual and automated systems and operations. During the interview process, the following information should be analyzed:
    Processing workflow, Reports and other data used in each department, User documentation for each functional area, Information regarding future automation needs, Ease of use, Efficiency, Accuracy, Software functionality, Information availability, User manuals, Training

    15. Analyze areas that are presently processed manually to determine potential for automation and anticipated benefits.

    16. Identify potential workflow improvements.

    17. Perform a gap analysis to identify service delivery gaps and duplication of effort.

    18. Obtain present and projected volumes for each application area to be considered, including both average and peak requirements.

    NEEDS ANALYSIS

    19. Review the information gathered during the technical and user assessment process and develop an information needs analysis that outlines the system features required by your Company to satisfy present and future needs.

    20. Evaluate the quality, effectiveness and flexibility of the existing systems in terms of satisfying the existing and future operating needs and information requirements of your Company, and relative to technology trends.

    21. Identify technology improvements related to systems, operations, and structure.

    22. Identify functions and processes that can be "web enabled" including Intranets and customer Extranets.

    23. Identify additional information needs, and improvements to existing manual and automated systems for increasing efficiency and productivity, and providing better and timelier services.

    24. Meet with top management and other key personnel to review the initial needs analysis information.

    25. Prioritize the needs analysis and determine the technology priorities. This company-wide prioritization is critical to ensure that the systems and technology that provide the greatest benefits are addressed as the highest priority.

    RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS

    26. Research and evaluate various alternatives to satisfy the information needs and requirements.

    27. Determine potential alternatives available to meet the information systems and technology needs of your company, such as networks, communication systems, internet/intranet/extranet, e-commerce and other technologies.

    28. Identify the costs.

    LBL Tips for Success

    Costs are easy to quantify, but very commonly underestimated. Benefits are easy to identify, but very difficult to quantify

    29. Document the benefits

    30. Prioritize technology initiatives

    LBL Tips for Success
    - High - completion in 6 to 12 months
    - Medium - completion in 12 to 18 months
    - Low - completion in 18 to 24 months

    PLAN DEVELOPMENT AND REPORTING

    31. Develop an information technology plan that will address the short-term and long-range objectives of your company. The information technology plan could include the following considerations, as appropriate:

    Executive Summary

    Hardware Requirements, Delivery Systems, Software Requirements, Communications Requirements, Internet/Intranet/Extranet, E-Business, Security, Staffing Requirements, Technical and User Education Requirements, Estimated Costs, Other considerations as appropriate

    Are there other consideration that should be addressed in the plan?

    32. Prepare an implementation plan.

    33. Review the technology plan report with top management and other key personnel.

    34. Finalize the technology plan.

    35. Implement the technology plan.

    What do you think the most difficult challenges in technology planning?

    Session Moderator: Other than second-guessing the marketplace? I would say probably picking from all the available options

    Jeff Locketz & Geoff: Here are some we have come up with

    Ongoing resource requirements, Focusing on short-term stop-gap decisions, Pace of technology change, Poor decision-making methodologies, Minimum planning, Existing technology infrastructure, Adequate training, Addressing resistance to change, Lack of time, Lack of resources, Elapsed planning time, Lack of consensus, Availability of personnel

    Our experience indicates the following success factors:

    Top management commitment, Defining objectives and requirements, Realistic expectations, Focus on key business strategies, Participation by management, users and technical resources, Emphasis on business solutions vs. technology solutions, Proper evaluation of alternatives

    Top management commitment is critical to the success of the process. With out that you are going to fail.
    Objectives and requirements must be carefully defined or you will end up in a blind alley.

    There must be realistic expectations.

    Many people emphasize the technology solutions without a solid business case.

    This completes the prepared text. We can now take any questions from the group.

    Session Moderator: Does anyone have any questions for Geoff and Jeff?

    Blake Denton: How do you see the technology environment changing due to the Internet?

    Jeff Locketz & Geoff: with e-business security of data is becoming more important as time goes on. Hardware must strive to keep up with the demands placed on it by the internet. Communication is becoming very complex and bandwidth is very important.

    Session Moderator: Gentlemen, what are the more frequent complaints/concerns you hear from clients who are attempting to keep up with the times?

    Jeff Locketz & Geoff: Lack of software capabilities. Lack of ability to access data that is in the system. Increasing need for technical resources. Great need for training of users in the offices.

    Laura Scott: Are there any technology tools available for plan development?

    Jeff Locketz & Geoff: We have developed a the LBL Technology Planner. This tool allows the user to answer questions then a plan will be produced automatically. To date this is the only tool we are aware of.

    Blake Denton: One concern that I have is how long will this hardware be compliant with the needs of the ever-changing market.

    Jeff Locketz & Geoff: There appears to be about a 2 to 3 year window on hardware now. It is important to keep the technology plan up-to-date so that machines can be rotated based upon need. That is also a benefit of the technology planning software.

    Laura Scott: Can I survey the user base for technology needs with your tool?

    Jeff Locketz & Geoff: Yes, the software has a user assessment module built in.

    Session Moderator: Are there any other questions?

    Session Moderator: Thank you all for attending today - and thank you so much, Geoff and Jeff, for providing us with quite a large quantity of valuable data.

    Jeff Locketz & Geoff: Thank you all for coming.

    Session Moderator: For those of you interested in more information about the LBL technology planner, you can go to: www.lbltech.com

    Again, thank you all for attending today!

    Workshop sponsored by NetLedger:

    NetLedger

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