When you need IT advice

When you ask for advice from an IT specialist, often the response is too technical, too closely tied to a commercial product, or simply off the mark because the underlying problems are management problems.  Who can you turn to for useful and practical advice?

What kind of technology advice do you need?

As a manager or executive you may have a variety of questions about “technology.”  Here is one way to classify those questions:

1. Pure technical analysis – what’s possible, what does it cost?

You already have a clear idea of the functions or capabilities you need.  But now you need to know what technologies can be used to get those functions, and what they are likely to cost.   An IT specialist with experience in building those functions can elaborate the technologies and give you a roadmap for building what you want.

If the specialist also has enough experience, you can get a fairly accurate estimate of how much it will cost – if things go well.  But always be prepared for bumps in the road.  Many time, due to evolving technologies, unforeseen glitches due to incompatibilities, and changing requirements, the costs will go up – even as much as doubling the initial estimates.

The best countermeasure to escalating costs is to define incremental delivery of the features.  Ask for demonstrations and delivery of working systems every few months, so that you can personally verify that things are on track – and that you’re getting what you want.

 

2. Help in selecting between competing alternatives – evaluating vendors and their products/services

When the times comes to select a vendor or to choose a team for building the capabilities you want, ask for help from someone who has done it before.  In other words, make sure the advice you get is from someone experienced in the particular functions and capabilities you’re asking for.

Be sure that your advisor is not “married” to a particular vendor.  Of course, this eliminates the sales representatives of the vendors from being the advice-givers you need.  Even your own IT staff may have prejudices based on their own history and experience with particular vendors’ products.  You may want to find a consultant who knows the field and can give you accurate information without being involved in the sale of a product.

Evaluating vendors also includes business aspects.  You need to know that the vendor will survive to support the product, has the infrastructure needed to provide what you need, and is willing to commit to meeting your service standards, whatever they may be.

 

3. Guidance in managing the implementation of new IT services

Once you’ve committed to implement a new capability, you form a team to carry out the project.  At this point, you may need help in assuring success of the project.

Projects fail all too often.  Most failures are due to one of the following:

•  Inadequate planning and scoping of the project

•  Unrealistic expectations about what can be done in what time

•  Unadequate management structures for coordinating the project

•  Unforeseen complexity and rapid change in the requirements

Hiring an experienced management consultant can insure you against project failure for a small fraction of the project cost.  You’ll want to find someone who speaks in business terms, has management experience, and knows technology well.

This third area — managing implementation — is the area in which I work.  I’ll be glad to offer you a free strategy session in which we examine your project and your plans in an initial consultation, to see if I can help raise your confidence that your project will succeed.  Simply contact me by any of the methods below.

 

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John Levy Consulting                                415 663-1818

Deliver the promise of technology to business

http://johnlevyconsulting.com

PO Box 1419                  Point Reyes Station, CA 94956

 

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    About John Levy

    John Levy works with senior managers in mid-sized organizations who are responsible for development and delivery of major software or hardware/software products. He helps them gain confidence that their projects will succeed.

    Development projects can fail in many ways. You need a guide who speaks the language of business and is knowledgeable about technology. John aligns Development with the organization's strategy so it will contribute efficiently to the success of the enterprise.

    John has been consulting for over 20 years. His book on managing high-tech teams, Get Out of the Way, was published in 2010.

    For more information, email him at johnlevyconsulting.com, or call 415 663-1818.
    And check out John's profiles on LinkedIn and Twitter!