thranite - information design for business


Information Technology Planning

IT Planning can be as simple as deciding to upgrade a few personal computers next year, and it can be as complex as using IT as a strategic driving process for the business as a whole.

Plan Outline

1.    Strategic Framework.

  • Environmental Scan. Identify trends within your industry, and identify the legislative and regulatory constraints to doing business. What issues are critical to the success of the business?
  • Business/Organization Assessment. Comparative analysis. Review organizations major strengths and weaknesses, obstacles. Review industry, competition and organization.
  • Technology Forecast. . Identify which major building blocks of technology are critical to the business, and make predictions as to the future stability or turbulence in the technology.

2.    Strategic Direction

  • Provide basic indication of organization-wide opportunities for using new technology to improve productivity and achieve the business objectives. Do an "Opportunity analysis". Raise awareness in organization of technology opportunities. Interview as many employees as is possible. Areas to look at include: Organizational communication approaches, information resource management approaches, decision support, function needs, quality or work life.
  • Global Cost-Benefit: A Forecast.
  • Set IS Objectives for next three to five years.
  • Ask some of these questions:
    • If we stay the way we are, where are we going?
    • If we change, where are we going?
    • Why are we going there?
    • How will we get there?
    • What is the cost of getting there?
    • What is the benefit of getting there?
    • Which parts of the organization need to get there first?
  • State Strategic Assumptions

  • Objectives may be willing to "pilot" some projects.

3.    Project Descriptions and Evaluation Tools.

       This is part of the strategy for developing a coherent technical infrastructure for the organization.
  • State the goals of the organization and match the IT activities under consideration to each of these goals. An IT activity which services a high priority goal of the organization should receive preference in funding decisions. An IT activity which can not be matched to an organization goal should be given a low priority.
  • Regard every software application and IT facility as a project in some stage of its life cycle. This may be proposed, under evaluation, under development, testing, implementing, in production, in maintenance, phase out.
  • Allocate responsibility for supporting each project to the respective "line" manager responsible for the business goal. This person ultimately becomes responsible for the project achieving the business goals and the funding required by the project.
  • Applications and facilities of an "administrative" nature would be assigned to the IT manager given the cross organization utility. This would include system infrastructure, system security, reporting and decision support tools, desktop environment and applications.
  • Determine which services will be provided using internal resources and which will be outsourced. Generally, you will want high risk new technology projects handled in-house (perhaps with some external resources employed), and maintenance activities which can be broadly acquired should be outsourced. Plan your internal manpower around the toughest assignments.
  • Evaluation Tools. Indicate the tools which will be used to evaluate projects prior to receiving an endorsement that the project does satisfy organizational goals. These tools include:
    • Critical Success Factors
    • Value Chain
    • Pareto Principle
    • Project Risk

4.    Technology Architecture.

Generically identify the hardware and software choices that will be used to integrate the organization. Consider the computer platform (mainframe, minicomputer, personal computer), degree of IT presence as centralized or departmental, database manager, LAN.

1.    Information Architecture.

2.    Information Flows.  Describe how information is distributed throughout the organization and dependencies between departments.   Information reengineering projects may be defined to provide the foundation upon which an IT project would be based.  Alternatively, this may be a global view of the data interdependencies of major applications.

3.    Communications Architecture. Develop a strategy that now and in the future allows the pieces of the IS architecture to communicate with each other and the outside world.  Determine the communication protocols and network topology to be used.  Need to worry about across vendor communication.

4.    Technology Policy. Document the technical standards (hardware, operating systems, generic office systems, end user applications), security, documentation, back up / disaster recovery, vendor selection, methods for cost/benefit analysis, development methods. Could provide information, informal technology recommendations, formal guidelines, or formal policies that must be obeyed.

5.    Implications for human resource management. Consider social factors of technical plan. Does organization need to be redesigned? Will informal methods of communication be changed? Will there be political problems in implementing plan (changing power relations)? Possible job design implications? Training?

6.    End User Environment. Give consideration to providing a pleasant work environment to your employees giving consideration to:

  • electrical outlet locations, ability to cable the offices for the LAN and telephone access
  • ergonomic issues for chairs, desks, workstations, noise levels, lighting levels
  • interior design of the office and corporate image
  • personal privacy and productivity.

7.    Change Management Process. Describe the strategy to migrate to a new application or platform. Note impact on business process, employees, timing considerations, other projects. Identify risk factors to ensure acceptance by user community.

8.    Vendor Endorsement. Present the IT Plan to your vendors and have them commit to the success to your plan. It is important to avoid instances of pieces of technology not working cooperatively.