Editor’s note: Bill Riddick is president of Computer Service Partners.Most organizations are typically “reactive” in their approach to implementing new information technologies. This happens for many reasons that can include the need to enhance network performance, the need to better secure the network, or because government regulations (such as Sarbanes-Oxley or HIPAA) have mandated change.

Today’s technologies are creating opportunities for leveraging your IT investments like never before. In order to maximize the return on your technology investment, proper “proactive” planning must become a priority.

Before making technology investments, it is important to concurrently evaluate both your short- and long-term technology needs. This proactive approach encourages businesses to explore the best solutions, set priorities, and carefully implement technologies that will allow for the proper evolution of the information systems and maximize return on IT investments.

Taking the following steps will help you optimize the results of your planning initiatives.

  • Create a vision that considers both the short- and long-term implications, defines success criteria, and identifies risks.

  • Have an independent technology consultant perform a technology assessment. Evaluate several approaches and solutions.

  • Focus on total cost of ownership, not just the initial cost. Consider operational and productivity benefits as well on-going support costs in order to determine your best option.

  • Evaluate the impact of new technology implementations on both your staff and your customers. Inform them of your plans and progress. Plan for necessary training.

  • Budget for project management to control risk, cost, schedule, and scope throughout a project.

  • Define how you will measure the success of a project.

  • Plan what end-user and technical documentation will be required.

  • Plan for redundancy, security, and disaster recovery in all components and processes.

  • Execute training programs for individuals affected by the new technology.
  • Taking these steps will help you more effectively allocate your resources and determine what outside resources you will need. Engage with a technology partner/consultant who can help you with proper planning…not one who is simply reactive in helping you satisfy a short-term requirement.

    As with other aspects of your business, proper technology planning can have a significant impact on your success.

    Computer Service Partners: www.cspinc.com