Establishing your Technology Needs
Regardless of an organization’s sector or size, technology is essential for its growth and competitiveness. Understanding the appropriate technology for your organization is not to be taken lightly. Technology needs assessment assists in formally identifying an organization’s technology requirements.
Choosing the appropriate technology requires assessing your organization’s demands and projecting future development, all while remaining within your budget.
What is a Technology Needs Assessment?
Before deciding whether to acquire new computers, software programs, or networking services, an organization must determine its technology usage plans. This is not always a simple undertaking, particularly when challenging concerns regarding the capabilities and limits of the technology arise.
A technology needs assessment is a systematic method for identifying gaps between the current state of your organization and its desired future state. It is often the initial phase of any company improvement initiative and a vital component of any business systems strategy.
It is a method of analyzing the technology, systems, and processes that you already have and utilize and what you may require in the future to support the business’s objectives and growth.
Examining the overall vision for the organization’s technology is a crucial step in establishing its technological needs.
Who Should Perform a Technology Needs Assessment?
A typical mistake is to think that only a technology expert can do a complete requirements assessment. The needs assessment looks at what the organization does, what it needs to get done, and how new or more technology might help it reach its goals.
Task requirements can only be made by people involved in an organization’s day-to-day operations and know its goals, functions, and current needs.
During the requirements assessment, a technical expert could help the team see things from a different perspective, but they shouldn’t tell the team what to do. The expert should be a resource who can talk about what technology can and can’t do.
Who is required to participate in the Technology Needs Assessment Process?
A needs assessment is open to anyone who uses technology or wants to use it. Some employees may not fully understand how different technologies work, but they know what they need to do their jobs.
In a large organization, visiting every staff member interested in technology might be challenging. However, representatives from each user group can be asked to come. Ask for and choose volunteers, but also pick some people who don’t like technology but whose ideas are just as valuable.
How to Assess your Business Technology Needs
Even though the needs assessment is just one part of improving a company’s technology resources, it can be considered a mini-project in its own right.
There are several steps to the technology needs assessment process. You must:
1. Gathering relevant information
Examine your present infrastructure, procedures, and systems. Examine your processes and determine how your personnel use modern technologies and do their duties.
Conduct focus groups with relevant personnel, surveys, interviews, etc., to collect as much pertinent data as possible. For strategic planning, several business analytic tools are available.
Consider the strengths and weaknesses of your present IT systems and identify issue areas. Learn the reasons behind the change.
For instance, do you require new IT systems to comply with new regulations, optimize procedures to improve efficiency, satisfy client demands, or remain competitive in the market?
1. Study your workflow
The first step is to visit each department to determine its workflow and technological needs. Determine how staff do their duties and utilize technology.
Identify bottlenecks and other persistent issues, particularly those associated with technology. And ask staff to describe their preferred workflow configuration.
Finally, consider how you believe your business will grow in the following years and how your technological requirements will alter. You do not want to get software that is flawless now but will not support your expansion strategy.
2. Review your existing technology
Through audits and your employees, determine the pros and cons of the hardware and software you already have. How does this technology change the problems you’ve found with workflow?
3. Survey Stakeholders who can help identify IT Needs
It’s not easy to learn about all the different needs of employees. But this information will be vital for finding solutions in the future.
Every time you do an evaluation, you’ll need to do the following:
- Make a list of the people you want to interview
- Asking many people can help you find the more significant problems that need to be fixed
- Choose the interview or survey method you think will work best, such as personal interviews, group interviews, online questionnaires, or focus groups
- List the questions you want the stakeholders to answer
4. Consider Security Standards & Regulatory requirements
It’s challenging to figure out which laws and rules apply to an organization. Organizations often have to follow several frameworks and regulations, many of which overlap.
Security standards and regulations help companies by giving them guidelines and best practices based on their industry and the type of data they keep. If you don’t follow these rules, you could get fined a lot or, even worse, have a data breach.
Most businesses have at least one security rule they have to follow. The hard part is figuring out which ones apply and what policies and controls are needed to comply.
When thinking about security standards and regulatory requirements, there are three types of security obligations that an organization needs to think about:
- Business Obligations: These are your security responsibilities. For instance, you are responsible for ensuring that information in the organization – customer data, employee files, etc. – is secure and readily accessible.
- Regulatory Obligations: These are the legal, compliance, and contractual responsibilities that your security officers must satisfy. For instance, organizations in the healthcare industry must comply with HIPAA.
- Client Obligations: These are the security promises that the customer expects your business to uphold. For instance, if you were a manufacturer of specialized components, your clients may ask you to encrypt all their confidential blueprint data.
Understanding your information security needs is the first and most important step when determining technology security needs. But you shouldn’t let compliance needs be the only thing that tells you what obligations and best practices you should implement.
Often, you may need to work with a security expert to decipher relevant legislation to establish tech security needs.
2. Establish the requirements
Aim to define requirements clearly. You can decide later which ones are most important, likely to happen, and within your budget.
The key is ensuring IT fits in with your business’s overall strategy. For instance, do you need a new system to talk to customers better if your goal is to improve customer service? If you want to make things more efficient, will the new system help you make things easier? If you need to, include the people who matter to you in this process.
Business vs. Functional vs. Technical Requirements
In terms of requirements, business requirements, functional requirements, and technical requirements are the “why,” “what,” and “how,” respectively.
Typically, a business has a goal (or problem) that the need should assist in achieving or solving. Business requirements refer to a task (or set of actions) that a business must complete reaching its stated objective.
Functional requirements are the what. Functional requirements are system features or functions that must be implemented to allow users to complete their duties.
The level of specificity required by functional requirements should be somewhere between that of business requirements and that of technical requirements.
Technical requirements are precise. These are the requirements for a project’s success, including availability, performance, and dependability.
Due to their specificity, technical requirements frequently involve raw figures and virtually always include the term shall in their definitions.
Functional vs Non-Functional Requirements
Functional requirements often describe the behavior of a system under specified conditions. For example, “If a user wishes to credit an issued invoice, he or she can search among numerous invoices using a search option.”
Nonfunctional criteria, unrelated to the system’s functionality, define the system’s performance. An example of a nonfunctional requirement is “the website pages should load in three seconds, with a maximum of five thousand concurrent visitors.”
Understanding the difference between Requirements and Specifications
In general, a requirement is a business need. In contrast, a specification is a thorough, typically technical statement of how that need will be met.
3. Assess your resources
If you determine a new system is required, you should consider the time and money you have to buy it. If you can’t afford a system that meets all of your needs, you may need to decide which ones are most important.
Consider the resources required for implementation, such as training employees, changing business processes, licensing, maintenance, and support.
Also, don’t forget to take stock of your employees. One of the biggest problems with implementing new technology is that people don’t like change. It helps to get your team involved from the start and pay attention to helping people learn how to use the new technology.
If you don’t have any employee who knows much about technology and can lead your needs assessment, you might want to hire an outside tech expert.
This person will be able to ask you the right questions and won’t have as many ideas about your current workflow and technology. Staff may also feel more comfortable talking to someone outside than their boss.
4. Review and prioritize results
Write down the results of your needs assessment so you can look at them again if you need to. Look at the results and use them to make a plan for your business’s IT Strategy.
There is no single way to document the results of a technology needs assessment results. A good rule of thumb, though, is whether or not someone new to the project can read the documentation independently and understand what was found.
It’s important to remember that the “Needs Statement” should only include a general statement of functional and technical needs (i.e., requirements). Make sure to think about the other options. Maybe you can fix your IT problems by changing other parts of your business.
Next Steps: Establishing your Business IT Requirements
It is critical to determine your IT needs before purchasing IT equipment or services for your organization.
These define what you want to gain from your investment, ensuring it is prudent.
What you wish to perform with your IT system will be described in typical IT requirements for your firm. The criteria will enable you to define the rationale for investing in new IT and provide a checklist to get what you need.
Before you become distracted looking at specific items, creating an IT requirements document in advance of any purchase helps you think clearly about your goals.