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5 Steps for Strategic Business Upgrade Planning

upgrade, system, planning, business planning, business upgrades, company, work, upgrade system,

A very exciting time in your company might be when you realize that you have to upgrade your systems to keep with the times. It can be very frustrating and can take some time too depending on what needs to be updated. There’s a lot that has to go into the thought process before starting…

Two Approaches

  • The company in question always has to have the latest and greatest, who change their systems as soon as upgrades become available.
  • The company in question goes through more traditional means. Why change what they have when it’s working perfectly fine? These companies upgrade only when forced to do so.

The upgrade plan has to focus on future growth and changes forecasted by the company. The question that needs to be asked when looking ahead is, how will the changes affect upgrade needs in the future?

Five Steps to Planning Upgrades

1. Categorize and Prioritize: Categories include

i. Client Computer Systems
ii. Peripherals
iii. Client Software
iv. Server hardware and software
v. Security
vi. Network devices
vii. Network Infrastructure

Here items can be picked and chosen as to what the organization decides to upgrade. In this if needed subcategories can be created in order to create a more organized plan.

2. Set Priorities: Prioritize based on the costs and benefits ratio. What items need to be upgraded first? Is it an urgent need or a want? Make sure to not upgrade needlessly, make sure that it’s really needed.

3. Consider Dependencies: When the company is upgrading their systems they need to take into consideration what might be dependent on others. This might create more upgrades in order for the system to work with the new equipment. Or if applications are being upgraded, the system might need to be upgraded in order to work with them.

4. Phased Rollout: Don’t rush it. Testing and discovering of bugs need to be worked out before starting to use the new system. After the tests are completed use small groups of employees to test the upgrades in the production environment. If there’s a learning curve use the fast learners first as they can then learn the new system and assist/teach the others when it rolls out.

5. Keep it Scalable: Write out the plan. Get input from other departments and different levels to help create the plan. Plans for expansion of the company and any restructuring needs to be taken into account here too.

Proper Planning

If the organization follows proper planning with scalability included in the process, it can create a very smooth upgrade environment for the company. It would help immensely as upgrading systems can be very costly and stressful if not done correctly. Never rush the process and take time to consider all options before jumping in.

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3 Phases of Business Analysis Verification Testing

test, work, , business analysis, business, complete, system, strategic planning, software

The first thing you should do after buying a product for the business analysis solution is to verify if the software will work with your vision.  Will it do what it is supposed to do?  When it is being verified the testing team who can be anyone from developers, QA and business analysts work with the software to make sure that it really works for what it was bought and/or created for.  There are many phases to be completed in order to ensure the new product will work well with your system.

The Test Phases

The Smoke Test comes before anything.  It’s a pretest to find out if full testing can begin.  This test shows simple failures that could keep further tests from being executed in the next 3 phases.

  1. Unit Test: Here every unit is tested separately to find any possible bugs before moving on.  It’s another name for the smoke test.  Don’t just have the development team test it here, but others to so there will be unbiased testing completed.
  2. Integration Test: This part makes sure that all the individual parts can work together; either as a subsystem or linked units.  Here you would want to find problems with how components will work together in the software architecture design.  This includes multiple levels of integration where subsystems might be brought in to see if they would work, then attached to larger subsystems when in compliance.  The development team and possibly business analysists work here.
  3. System Test: Here is where problems are found with how the new system meets users’ needs.  It’s ran through the entire system, auditing everything from linear perspective’s.  It’s the last chance before turning over to a user acceptance test, and verifies if the software meets original requirements.  The business analyst works here for the most part.

Other Tests to Be Completed

There are numerous other tests that have to be completed during these 3 phases.

  • Requirements validation test: Verifies system logic, making sure that it supports system analysis.
  • Regression Test: Retesting to ensure changes don’t break what is working.  There’s usually more than one test completed to make sure all the applications work.
  • Dynamic Test: Testing of the software in different circumstances.  There are 3 tests completed here:
    • The Performance Test: How fast can the system complete functions?
    • The Stress Test: Push the software to its limits to see how it handles levels of users, rates of input and speed of response.
    • Volume Test: Can the new software handle growth projections?
  • Security Test
  • Installation Test
  • Configuration Test
  • Usability Test

Why Test and a Way To Help Implement

With all these tests completed it will help you to not have problems down the road.  There’s a need to make sure that everything will work before turning it loose for everyone to use in your company or sell online to your customers.  Click here to get an awesome partition assistant from AOMEI to help maximize disk space and improve the performance of your computer(s).  This will be needed when growing your system, implementing new programs and applications.  The best part of this is that it has the Windows to Go Creator which would help immensely in the long run too.

 

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3 Reasons to Use Strategic Plans

SCRUM, plan, planning, strategic planning, tasks, software, planning software, scrum management, scrum, task, task management,

What Are Strategic Plans?

Strategic plans are a type of formalized map that plots out and shows how a company is going to follow and complete the chosen strategy.  It’s how the business is going to improve a function in a department or throughout the entire organization.  It’s a management tool for C-level managers and business owners to learn how to master so that there can be more growth of the company.

  1. It helps build competitive advantage
  2. Communicates strategy to the staff if you have any, or helps keep you organized if you’re a sole proprietor
  3. It helps to give focus and direction in order to act

Assistance in Time Management

A good investment is time management software.  It helps to keep track of reports, task completion and sharing tasks between team members.  This software can improve both personal and professional productivity by 80%.  It can help so much in helping to keep the strategy up to date and completing tasks on time.  Here’s an affiliate link for software assistance in managing projects, automating business processes, getting notifications of what has been done or still has to be completed.  It can also add notes and comments for if someone is having trouble or finished ahead of schedule which is incredibly helpful.  Then you know where people might need to be added or taken away to assist on other tasks.

A Good Plan

Scheduling ahead is a good plan in order to be successful in project management and strategic planning.  You don’t have to worry about falling behind or having sloppy handling of tasks.  All you have to do is put the plan to action and the software does the rest if used right.  Make sure that the team members remember to update what they did for the day so you can keep tabs.  If using it personally it’s great for being able to keep track of your busy life.  You don’t want to miss an important event or appointment.

 

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What is the Role of Information Systems in the 21st Century?

information systems, business, IS, business information systems

Whether or not a company wants to believe it, information systems (IS) are a very important part of how the business runs now.  This includes how data is stored, transferred and understood by all the different departments in the agency.  The problem is, it seems that business owners are not really aware of how important IS to their companies in being able to be managed in designated systems.

10 Reasons to Have New Information Systems

10 reasons that it is so important for companies are:

  1. Control Creation and Growth of Records – Less paper wasted as everything becomes computerized
  2. Reduces Operating Costs – Storing inactive records in IS costs less per linear foot for the company
  3. 3. It Improves Both Efficiency and Productivity – Helps to upgrade record keeping so retrieval of information needed is vastly improved
  4. Assimilate New Records Management Technologies – Can be used in any area of the company, helps analyze manual recordkeeping and applied automation
  5. Ensures Regulatory Compliance – Companies have to be able to make sure that they are in regulations by having a good IS that is responsible for regulatory compliances
  6. Minimize Litigation Risk – The main reason IS is used is to reduce the risk of litigation and penalties. A newer system put in place will help to ensure this happens.
  7. Safeguard Vital Information – This is necessary in order to protect records and information as all agencies are susceptible to attack or natural disasters. This will provide backups and save the information in a safe place of the company’s choosing, for retrieval later.
  8. It Helps to Support Better Management Decision Making Capabilities – A newer system put into place will help managers and executives to better find information that they need when they need it to make critical business decisions. ERP systems would be perfect here instead of doing everything manually.
  9. It Helps to Preserve Corporate Memory – This is done through everyday activities and record keeping.
  10. Foster Professionalism in Running the Company – Neatness and cleanliness are key in running a smooth organization

Why Update at All?

Good, solidly built IS  means that companies that use it will be able to align their strategies together into a clear point of view as to where they want to go.  It also helps to find relationships that would be considered critical and gaps in their company culture and infrastructure.  Good information systems  find answers on how to gain competitive advantage against their competition by improving alignment to strategic decision making.

 

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Why All the Different Information Systems?

IS, DSS, EIS, TPS, MIS, information systems, organizations, senior management, junior management, executives, executive decisions, senior management decisions, junior management decisions,

This all started back in the day.  Someone would need a system made specifically for them to handle one problem.  Soon enough that it was discovered that different problems needed similar solutions, but not always in the same manner of getting them.  This is where defining of the information systems began and why it is still needed.   When the company in question decides that they need to upgrade, they have to go through a process in order to find the right applications and hardware to handle their data.  Classification comes to play here, so that categorizing information can be completed correctly.  This will help to make the data one unit instead of many.

How Do You Identify Different Types of Systems?

There is no simple answer to the question.  Every company builds an information system (IS) that is tailored to their specific needs.  There are many different types of IS that are used in some manner or another.  Classifying IS relies on how tasks are performed and responsibilities are divided in the agency.  This becomes a pyramid model as most companies are hierarchical, so classes of IS are categorized following the hierarchy going down.

To compare different information systems:

  1. Transaction Processing Systems (TPS)– These are operational level systems.  They are used by shop floor workers and front line staff.  Data is gained here through tracking of low-level activities and basic transactions.  They function as simple data processing systems only.  This is the system that produces information for other systems to use.  They are used internally and externally, are used by operational personnel and supervisors and are focused on efficiency.  Examples:  Payroll, Order processing, Reservations, Payments and Funds Transfers.
  2. Management Information Systems (MIS) – Management level used by middle managers. This system ensures smooth running of the company for short to medium terms.  Information is given out highly structured and helps managers to evaluate the company’s performance through comparison of outputs.  MIS is built on data given by TPS.  They are based on internal information flow, support structured decisions, but are inflexible with not much analytical ability.  Examples:  Sales Management, Inventory control, Budgeting, Management Reporting, and Personnel.
  3. Decision Support Systems (DSS) – Knowledge based system used by senior managers. They analyze existing structured information, allowing managers to estimate any potential effects on decisions they are thinking of implementing.  These systems are interactive and are used to solve problems.  They can access databases, offer analytical tools, allow simulations to be completed, and can support exchanges of information in the company.  This system can alter and build solutions provided by MIS and TPS, that can create insights plus new information to go off on.  DSS helps to support badly or semi-structured decisions already being built, and have analytical and modeling capacities.  Examples:  Group Decision Support Systems (GDSS), Computer Supported Co-operative work (CSCW), Logistics, and Financial Planning.
  4. Executive Information Systems (EIS) – Strategic level used by executives and senior managers. These systems analyze environments that the company works in, find long-term trends, and plan courses of action.  The information gathered is gathered from internal and external sources, and is weakly structured.  These systems are designed to be able to be used directly by the executives and are user friendly with the ability to be customized to whomever is using it.  EIS gathers and presents data from the MIS or TPS so senior management and executives can see what is going on a make decisions based off what they see.  The people who use this want ease of use and being able to predict what will happen to the company in the future.  It has to be effective, flexible, and support unstructured decisions.  Examples:  There are none.  These systems are tailored to individual wants of the user, in other words are custom made.  There are off the shelf packages that can be customized too.

The Importance of Planning

There is no easy way to explain why there are so many different types of information systems.  Every company out there is not the same, or runs their agency in the same manner as others.  This is why modifications are made to the systems in order for them to work specifically with what said company uses and the data they keep.  Also every level of the agency uses different systems.  Not everyone has to have a need to know of everything going on.  It is better to keep it at the level that the systems are going to be used at the most.  This is why planning for upgrades is so important.  If the wrong system is used, or the wrong programs…

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Key Methods of SISP

strategic plan, IT, IS, SISP, strategic information systems plan, information systems, information technology, alignment

SISP can be defined as the process to determine the computer applications that help achieve business objectives. SISP can be considered a critical management tool as it focuses on strategic goals of organizations. It’s needed in order to move strategic directions of organizations.  Otherwise things could get sloppy really fast. SISP keeps things organized when change is being implemented in agencies, especially with information technology (IT).

Why Use Any Methodology of SISP

Different methodologies that SISP uses is:

1. Business System Planning
2. Strategic Systems Planning
3. Information Engineering
4. Information Quality Analysis
5. Business Information Analysis

Whichever changes are chosen by the agency will influence methodology of implementation. It may also be more prudent to choose a bunch of different ways to complete it. This will help to keep a balancing act together when planning for the future.

Why Use SISP At All?

It seems that top management still doesn’t fully support using SISP methods in order to better compile and implement new changes. Research suggests agencies cannot reach success if there isn’t proper alignment of business and information systems strategies. There has to be a good mesh in order for the changes to be fully implemented with no problems. If there is no fit, it’s unlikely that there will be a proper alignment between information technology (IT) and the agency in question.

The Different Methodologies

The different methodologies are:

1. Business planning
2. Competitive impact
3. Computer-based applications
4. Conceptual analysis
5. Information systems planning
6. Information technology resource planning
7. Methodology
8. Strategic alignment
9. Strategic information systems planning (SISP)
10. Strategic management
11. SISP approach
12. SISP methodology
13. Strategic management planning
14. Strategic planning

The Why of All This

These methods can all be switched around and used in different ways in order to better find solutions. It has to be done correctly or a large amount of money will be invested with no results. Benefits from investing in IT can only be seen when there is a strategic alignment between IT and strategic business strategies. IT resources have to be able to target areas in the agency that are considered the most critical to their success. This has to be done with upper management, to include CEOs, CIOs and managers. This is why I have suggested in past posts that upper management is critical in SISP. If they are not willing to change initiatives and programs, there will be no change in the agency.

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What Exactly is Strategic Information Systems Planning (SISP)?

top-down, top-down flow, SISP, information systems, strategic information systems planning, information systems planning, planning

This is based off of Dr. Bozarth’s research on ERP implementation efforts in 2006. It’s based off of two arguments.

Arguments For…

1. A firm’s information systems investment needs to be aligned up to what the business strategy is.
2. Company’s best achieve IS-based alignment and/or competitive advantages through following proactive, formal and comprehensive actions. This includes development of a broad list of requirements that the organization has to build themselves.

Six Areas in Defining…

There are six areas that help to define a strong SISP process:

1. Comprehensiveness – This is where the said company tries to create and implement strategic decisions to the best of their abilities.

2. Formalization – This is where structure, techniques, procedures and policies are all written down. This is to help complete the planning process as a whole that will help to guide the company.

3. Focus – Targeting solutions that looks at both opportunities and possible threats to their system. Key is that it has to underscore control. This is done through budgeting, resource allocation and good management of assets.

4. Top-Down Flow – This is something that has to be adopted fully by management down to the staff in order to work.

5. Broad Participation – Participation has to be followed.  This makes sure that all areas of the company implement new changes due to decisions being made by top-level managers. All stakeholders and areas where the changes are being implemented have to know what’s going on.  When will the changes will take place?

6. High Consistency – When using SISP conduct numerous meetings.  The new process has to be periodically reassessed to make sure that the new strategies are being used.

Planning Ahead…

There needs to be a development of some kind of top-down plan in order to better connect upcoming information systems strategies to business needs. Classes will have to be conducted.  Orientation of employees to new steps will need to be done in order to familiarize them to new actions. It will also help with organizing, controlling and planning of the new IT functions.