It doesn’t matter who you are as an organisation - large or small - everyone has a state of being, that represents what state their technology architecture is in right now. Whether your organisation is happy with that current state is really a function of how well it is supporting the goals and strategy of the organisation. Of course the problem is that organisations are constantly evolving in response to factors both internal & external and the technology that is intended to support the organisation can struggle to keep up.
Almost all organisations have technology solutions that are less than 100% aligned with how the organisation would like them to be. This only becomes an issue when that alignment percentage starts dropping below a threshold, that is, where the cost of the issues being generated by the lack of alignment, is having a real and noticeable drag on the performance of the organisation. If you’re reading this and thinking “one of our systems is exactly like that.” then the question you will likely want to answer is - “how can I fix it?”
How To Improve
There are four general steps we would recommend following if you want to improve your current state. These are:
Investigate and ensure the current state/problem is what you think it is
Create awareness of the problem with those in a position to address the problem
Create a plan to fix the problem
Implement the plan
It sounds straightforward, but of course, that is rarely the case. The focus of this blog is the first step (touching on the second).
Scratching The Surface
Investigating to ensure the current state and/or problem is what you think it is, can be a lot more complicated than it appears on the surface. This is because problems that appear to be technology based on the surface, can often be a complex web of people, process, technology & information. In fact you will often hear (system) architects, CIOs and others intimate with technology, talk about the interplay between these factors. There is a good reason for this - all technology systems are a combination of these four areas, so what may seem like purely a technology issue on the surface, may in fact be a lot more complex.
This means that investigating your current state problem will require you to:
Understand the technology in play. This may be business applications, for example your CRM or ERP solution. Or it may be your infrastructure, for example your network, devices etc. But more often than not, It is a combination of both, your applications and infrastructure.
Understand the business processes that are dependent on (or interact) with that technology. This doesn’t have to involve detailed flow charts and procedures, but should identify where dependencies between technology & process exist, and how well these are performing.
Understand the people who are responsible for executing business processes and using the technology in question. This often brings up issues around training. And sometimes issues around organisational silos, where people are unable to perform the way the processes and technology have been designed to work. This is typically due to their organisational responsibilities.
Understand how information is created and will be used. Information often ends up being duplicated as different off-the-shelf solutions overlap with one another. This can cause all sorts of problems related to reporting and analytics that are independent of the actual technology, process and people.
If you focus on addressing these areas when investigating current state, you will ensure you’ve done a thorough job of understanding where your real issues lie.
Driving It Home
Your next step is to create awareness of the issues. Critical to that is ensuring the implications of the current state issues you’ve uncovered is clear to your stakeholders. Typically this will involve showing where there is a gap between the desired business strategy and current state you’ve reviewed - that is a topic for another blog though.
If you’ve got experience reviewing or investigating current state - for one system, or lots of systems - feel free to comment, we’re always interested in the approaches being followed out there.
If you like the approach we've taken on Current State reviews, and would like some help understanding the current state of your organisation, fill out the form and we will contact you. Thanks for taking the time to read our blogs. If you would like to see other blogs on Roadmapping, Cloud or even how Cyma uses Professional Development to help our staff, click here.