This section may answer some question but will also bring out more, consider it an opportunity to think tank with your team. The S.W.O.T (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) gives a quick reference to things that may or may not be real, but are possibilities. The accumulation of all these steps builds a road map, an understanding, and makes it possible to explain or describe where you are going in a short concise way, and makes it obvious what you are planning to do in the coming month’s and or years.
Keep in mind there is no wrong or right answer here, you are merely compiling and observing your organizations current status. This is just one step on the journey, one step in building a business case, and one more step in assessing what services and changes are needed to support your organizations business requirements. The basics rarely change, only the technology does, and of course there is always a list of nice to haves, documenting everything helps you filter what’s important and what is not.
Again, this list will be different…it should be as technology and business needs change. Here is an example:
1. Minimal Core Infrastructure (name your application here)
2. New, enthusiastic team
1. 85% of staff are new to the organization
2. Unable to meet the expectations (Can’t move fast enough to please everyone)
3. Network instability
4. Lack of integration of core applications
1. Social Media Networks
2. Open Source
1. Inability to compete for qualified skilled people
2. Security – hacking, spam etc.
3. Inadequate budget
4. Little control over vendor products or direction
5. Little control over technologies
This is just an example of what your S.W.O.T. might look like, pull your team together and ask all the tough questions, make an exhaustive list and then pick the top 5 from each of the 4 areas in your SWOT.
This is the prime definition taken from the Wikipedia site on SWOT Analysis:
SWOT Analysis is a strategic planning method used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats involved in a project or in a business venture. It involves specifying the objective of the business venture or project and identifying the internal and external factors that are favorable and unfavorable to achieving that objective. The technique is credited to Albert Humphrey, who led a convention at Stanford University in the 1960s and 1970s using data from Fortune 500 companies.
Until next time
This is the third part of the Analysis section in our mock I.T. Strategic Plan. This section is all about observing and assessing what you have and what assets you may have. You might call it an inventory of which gives you a high-level snapshot of your organization, assets, liabilities and so on. Again, I am not going into great detail in these posts, they are intended to be quick references to give you an idea of what might go into each area and section of your plan.
This part is called Core Competencies, here are a couple of possible entries for your consideration:
1. Good people; qualified, experienced and possibly well trained.
2. Infrastructure; This would be software and hardware that is well integrated.
3. Ability to relate or communicate the services that IT can provide
4. You may have adequate funding available to meet objectives
Again, each of these are just examples of what might be in this part of your plan. The list can be as long as you want it but most likely you will only have a few items to enter here. I.T. Plans take very different shapes depending on the organization and who is building it, it’s a perspective and point of view…or a summary of how you see the needs of the organization and how you view the use of technology.
Next I will go over S.W.O.T. (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). Another area of observation and reflection, until next time.
We are at the observation or Analysis part of our I.T. Strategic Plan, this area can have many or a few sections, I am listing possible categories or subsections for you to review and consider, and then I will look at each one separately. In this section we will look at the following:
2. Key Success Factors
3. Core Competencies
4. S.W.O.T. (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats)
5. Possible Interrelationships
6. Budget Alignments
7. Planning Observations
These may be the same for you or you may have different categories but you get the idea, all of these mini-descriptions I have been laying out for you, are a framework to work from. The first one we’ll look at today is Markets, we need to determine who your supporting and or selling to internally and externally.
Depending on how your organization is structured will determine who is who. For example, if your organization has an HQ (Headquarters), multiple businesses under one umbrella, Field staff and customers, you will need to identify who they are and what they do from an access point of view. Each market will require levels of access and different types of information, it could be sales reports, personal data and or customer’s wish to track & see there purchase history.
One market would be internal HQ staff, another would be field staff, if you have multiple companies or offices with multiple databases you would have to break those independent units down. Documentation becomes critical here because you must know exactly what they need, access points, security, data requirements and so on. As you can see this can be a very laborious pile of work, that’s where your work earlier with department heads and subject matter experts pays off. You would already have a requirements document and a wish list, that would be your starting point to map out the details.
Identifying your markets means you most likely understand all the different complex levels of need. For example, HQ staff will want quick access to the seamless information, e.g. a full 360 degree look at a customer, maybe their personal data or a staff member. Field staff who are stretched for time and resources want strong productivity tools. To be able access financial documents and other required reports. This could also serve as clear evidence that you are indeed providing for and supporting staff in the field. Your I.T. Plan can solve a number of technical challenges but it can also restore or maintain confidence in HQ for those who do not work in the Mother Ship. By providing multiple levels of service and support, is the best PR money can buy, provide the best service and all will speak highly of you and your team.
Next I’ll look at the Key Success Factors section.
I have been a technology man for over twenty years and it still amazes me how many people are afraid of computers. Worse yet are unable to learn about them because of fear, no time and so on. Whatever the excuse is, it will work is what I say.
I love to help people with there computers, I love seeing the lights turn on when they figure out they really can’t break anything that can’t be fixed! When they learn something new and they can keep on using the computer they spent so much money on. The fear of loss is a very powerful thing and it’s this very fear that many take advantage of in the computer industry.
I don’t run around looking for computers to fix, but I do look for people who want to learn about that box that scares them half to death. Helping others to understand that everything will be ok no matter what they do is my greatest joy. Really, if you lost all your data, would life end right there on the spot? Probably not, in fact you would find another way to get things done or you would just get the problem solved. It’s all attitude isn’t it?
I recently had a complete crash of my hard drive, I laughed and re-installed, loaded my data from a DVD backup I made and I was back to normal in a couple days. Thinking ahead, backing up your critical data and having legit (legal) software disks to re-load applications is what you need to have to recover quickly.
Having said that, most people don’t backup their information, e-mail, contacts and so on. Why? I don’t know, it seems logical that everyone would do it but they don’t. It boils down to, do they know how? many won’t ask for fear of looking stupid, how dumb do you look when the crash hits. I’m just say’in!
Live life in such a way that others will call you again and again. How you ask? Well, ask yourself one question, how many people are better off because you lived?
There it is, being involved in your community, your church, your neighbourhood, volunteer groups will find you opportunities to do just that.
You might say it’s the same as having a servant heart, willing to give rather than receive, to help rather than not. The golden rule comes to mind here.
Knowing how to solve a problem is gold, you can help so many. I happen to be a technology man who likes to help the technically challenged. What are you and how do you help others? I would love to hear what you do.
Until next time.