How to Conduct A Technology Assessment - 4 Steps

Insights into Technology Assessment

When businesses thoroughly research, implement, and monitor technologies, they can enhance their competitive edge. However, inadequate implementation and maintenance can create more problems than before.

Therefore, companies should utilize technology assessment to define the performance levels of processes and determine potential solutions. This enables organizations to continuously improve their operations and technological advancements.

What is Technology Assessment?

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The technology assessment process is the evaluation of a business's information technology (IT) department to improve its overall performance. The analysis results will determine the IT infrastructure's strengths, weaknesses, capabilities, and limitations. This enables managers to improve security measures, operational efficiency, and other business strategies.

This evaluation method takes a proactive approach to maintenance to prevent malfunction rather than reacting to them. However, most startups and medium-size companies use the break-fix response, where they only focus on operations that require fixing. While this may seem to save maintenance and labor costs, this approach can cause significant damages.

Why is Technology Assessment Important?

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Regardless of a business's size, they are susceptible to IT risks that can jeopardize other internal processes. With the technology assessment approach, companies can eliminate inefficiencies and reinforce good practices.

Strengthens Cybersecurity Protocols

Many cybersecurity weaknesses within businesses go unnoticed, leaving companies vulnerable to breaches and other risks. Technology assessment can identify weak points within safety measures to reinforce firewalls and other cybersecurity protocols. This can prevent IT malfunctions, fraudulent users, stolen data, and infective malware.

Utilizes Technology Resources

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Outside of the IT department, other sectors within a business often require automation tools to streamline processes. For example, accounts receivable (AR) may need an automated billing system to generate client invoices and collect payments. However, some organizations may need more technology resources than others. Therefore, managers should run a technology assessment to determine their needs and optimize resource allocation.

Eliminates Bottlenecks

Bottlenecks occur when one or more processes lag, creating a buildup and delaying sequential operations. This can restrict output levels and create additional inefficiencies downstream. In regard to IT, bottlenecks typically occur from excessive cloud storage, too many users, and inefficient software. With technology assessments, IT managers can detect and resolve bottlenecks to improve performance.

4 Steps to a Technology Assessment

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While technology assessment involves only four primary stages, it can vary significantly depending on the business and their specific needs.

1. Discovery

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The first step of the technology assessment is discovering the current state of the company's IT department and performance.

  • Technology Ecosystem
Firstly, managers need to understand their current technology system by defining existing solutions in each department. They also need to identify any processes that connect systems throughout the company. For example, a system integrator can link point-of-sale (POS) and inventory tracking solutions to streamline data exchange. This integrator is just as significant as other management systems.

A good way to account for all processes, managers can track data as it moves from one system to the next. This makes it easy to identify data's origin, mode of transportation, and final destination. This process should be performed in every department to map out all internal operations.

  • Issues
After mapping everything out, managers can identify issues and emerging threats. This enables IT managers to incorporate various changes within the system. Problems may be the result of inadequate data sharing methods, delayed software, or poor employee performance.

  • People
It is also important to assess potential user-end issues by taking the time to understand how employees interact with systems. To do this, managers can shadow workers through various departments or generate regular feedback. This gives the IT team a well-rounded understanding of the work environment regarding technology.

2. Analysis

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Based on the information from the discovery stage, managers should have a good idea of which systems to analyze first. The IT team needs to scrutinize the flawed systems to determine their functionality, application, and efficiency. This includes evaluating how employees use each process for various tasks and desired features that could simplify labor.

This evaluation phase may seem like much work, but it actually saves businesses from unnecessary work. This analysis could reveal that issues do not require complex solutions, merely maintenance. Or, it could point to larger problems that have gone unnoticed and continue to build.

3. Develop

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Next, it's time to develop a plan of action to resolve the holes found in the previous two stages. At this point, managers should not only understand the entire length of the problem but also potential solutions. For example, businesses can implement an integrator to eliminate duplicate datasets found between POS and inventory control systems.

The most common mistake that companies make during the development phase is misaligning the business model, strategies, and issues. To avoid this, the IT team needs to work closely with all departments rather than tackling the project solely. This ensures everyone has a chance to express their roles, limitations, and thoughts on the technology environment.

4. Document

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Finally, it is time to document the plan of action along with the desired timeline and goals. The finalized report should include.

  • A comprehensive overview
  • Description of the issues at-hand and respective initiatives
  • Implementation and deployment details
  • Team members' roles
  • Expected timeframe

Most importantly, teams must communicate these changes to any employees it will impact via email, meeting, or memo. Stakeholders, as critical decision-makers, must also be aware of pending alterations so they can provide additional feedback.