How to Create a Technology Needs Assessment

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A Technology Needs Assessment is written to provide the management of an enterprise with the information they need to make technology investment decisions. The enterprise may be a large corporation, a small business, a non-profit, or even a small unit or office within one of these entities. In all cases the task is the same: to examine the technology needs of the study site and document these needs so that technology strategy can be planned and corresponding investments made.

Things You'll Need

  • Access to all site staff
  • Access to all site technology
  • Documentation capability
  • Internet access
  • Begin by surveying and documenting all the existing technology at the study site. This survey will record all hardware along with its age and condition, all software along with the release version and any patches that have been applied, and should make reference to the business processes that are supported by the technology. The survey needs to be exhaustive, accurate and well-documented.

  • Identify deficiencies in the existing technology. Some of these will already have emerged incidentally during the initial technology sweep. You should now interview site leadership and staff with the goal of exposing all the ways in which the existing technology fails to support the mission of the enterprise. Technology deficiencies can arise due to problems with slow, outdated hardware, or software that does not work well enough, or because of a lack of additional hardware or appropriate software. Document all the known and perceived deficiencies.

  • Research solutions to the deficiencies. This will require some expert knowledge and careful judgment. In almost all cases there is a good argument for upgrading hardware to current standards. Software upgrades require more care, since the latest version is not always the best. Consult on-line forums and technology discussion groups for the opinions of experienced professionals on these topics. Assessment site management may suggest they need some new software. Investigate this suggestion and draw conclusions about its effectiveness and suitability. Look for alternative products, and compare costs.

  • Consult the enterprise Technology Master Plan or Strategy document, if there is one. Your recommendations should be consistent with that document. If you make proposals in ignorance of a corporate policy you may be at variance with existing standards and that compromises the value of your assessment.

  • Write up your findings and conclusions in a comprehensive document that includes your technology survey, a listing of deficiencies and the effects these have on the site's business function, along with your recommendations for upgrades, if any. If you recommend any new software be purchased or licensed, provide the supporting rationale in terms of improvements to business functions that will result. In all cases provide the estimated costs of any changes you recommend.

Tips & Warnings

  • Present your Technology Assessment to your sponsors in a meeting at which you can explain how you went about the task. Support your presentation with handouts or slides from your document, and address any questions that arise.
  • Remember to include the estimated support costs for any new technology you suggest. The initial purchase cost of technology is only the beginning of the expenditures. Maintenance and support costs will be on-going for the life of the product, and so should be included in your report.

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