Today’s technologies are no longer just solving an organization’s challenge. They are innovating the ways businesses are run and are increasingly becoming differentiators that set a company apart from its competitors. A key to turning your technology landscape into a competitive advantage is ensuring there’s complete alignment between your business strategy and your technology stack. However, it isn’t enough to just have the right technology –it needs to be supported by the right people, processes, and data in order to turn your IT investments into competitive advantages.
Most organizations have at least a baseline understanding of where they want their technology to be but oftentimes underestimate the effort to get there because they don’t fully understand where they currently are. A technology assessment is a necessary first step to gain a comprehensive understanding of your organization’s technology landscape (including people, processes, and data) so you can build a realistic, actionable future state roadmap. While it may be the first step, the assessment should not be taken lightly. By taking the right approach, you can make the most of your assessment. Below we have outlined key considerations for conducting a technology assessment.
Key Considerations for a Technology Assessment
Define a vision and set the tone.
As part of the assessment, you need to establish the overall vision for technology within your organization. This vision will serve as (what we call at Clarkston) the “north star.” The “north star” helps the broader organization visualize what the future will look like. After the vision, either define an overall technology strategy or revisit and realign on an existing strategy in order to lay the groundwork for the change to come. By communicating a clear vision to executive leadership and the broader organization, you can jumpstart the change management process and gain organizational alignment.
Take a top-down approach.
The assessment itself should take a top-down approach, starting with the overall business and technology strategy. By understanding the strategic drivers, you can then determine the business capabilities needed to realize the strategy. The business capabilities should then be aligned to technology requirements based on the supporting people, processes, systems, and data in order to look for opportunities, gaps, and deficiencies (which are often not solely caused by systems), and then define the technology foundation. By taking this approach, you ensure that the initiatives and roadmap coming out of your assessment will enable your overall strategy and vision.
Understand the organizational impacts.
Technology assessments are not just about technology. Often during an assessment, the organizational impacts are not fully explored and accounted for in the roadmap, which leads to an underestimation of the effort and causes downstream issues once you’ve transitioned to the execution of your initiatives. A key mitigation strategy is to do a deep dive on the organizational impacts and change capacity as part of the assessment. These need to be considered and incorporated into the roadmap.
Think beyond the current challenges.
The current challenges your organization is facing should be the first priority of your assessment and strategy. However, it is not enough to build the roadmap based on the current challenges. Use your vision and overall strategy to look to the future and anticipate needs to build for that future state. Technology is constantly evolving, so include some aspirational technologies such as advanced analytics, machine learning, digital twins, etc. as the long-term initiatives. This will transform you from a “firefighter” solving existing business challenges to a forward thinker shaping the future of the business.
Technology Assessment Takeaways
As is key to every type of assessment, it is important to be as impartial as possible and incorporate outside research and analysis. While organizations can take on a technology assessment internally, many opt to leverage a third-party to conduct or advise the assessment. An experienced third-party partner can act as the unbiased facilitator who can incorporate in- and out-of-industry technology best practices as well as a deep understanding of the different technology markets. Clarkston has teams of technologists across all areas of your technology landscape that understand how to run a comprehensive assessment to not just solve the challenges your business is facing now, but turn your technology stack into a competitive advantage.