Underinvesting In Technology? How To Avoid An Unexpected Meltdown
By Monika Mueller
Softensity’s EVP Consulting Services and Head of LATAM Monika Mueller is a Forbes Technology Council member, and this article originally appeared on Forbes.com.
There have been a number of headlines about technical failures lately, from Southwest Airlines to the FAA itself. Sensational headlines about losses that reach into the hundreds of millions certainly capture our attention—and they should.
The truth is, technical failures at corporations of all sizes are nothing new, nor are they confined to a single industry like aviation. If there’s a silver lining to these highly publicized technical crises, it’s that they serve as a wake-up call. No company is immune to avoidable technical issues that can unleash a ripple effect that plays out over the course of several years. Beyond the exorbitant direct and indirect costs of such failures, there’s the issue of perception.
Competition has never been higher for organizations across industries, and winning the trust of a customer or client is a difficult task. Once lost, that trust can be nearly impossible to regain—especially when there are highly qualified competitors ready to scoop up your disillusioned faithful.
Fortunately, with the proper oversight and a little proactive planning, you can avoid a costly technical meltdown at your organization. Whether you have woefully outdated technology or software that can’t keep up with your company’s growth, you’ll need to conduct a technical audit to assess where you are and where you need to be.
Assessing Your Organization’s Technology
If you suspect that your organization may be underinvesting in technology or relying on outdated systems, the first step is to assess your current technology and pinpoint areas of weakness. Keep in mind your investment in technology must always serve the purpose of enabling a specific business process and objective.
Begin with an honest, end-to-end assessment to determine if the company’s business objectives align with its product objectives along with its commitment to customers. Do you have sufficient processes and applications in place to support these objectives? Are there areas where you’re underinvested? Do you need to rethink your technical ecosystem?
Whether this assessment is made internally or by an outside consultant, don’t think too long-term. While a five-year technology roadmap may seem forward-thinking, the reality is that in as little as six months, enough may have changed to call the entire roadmap into question.
Quarterly check-ins make more sense, so you can adjust and realign as necessary. In addition to these regular reviews, performing a deep-dive assessment every 18 months is a good idea. These regular assessments are the only way to avoid incurring technical debt in which there is an ever-widening gap between where the software should be and where it is in reality.
Planning For Crisis Management
It’s equally important for organizations to put their technology to the test in extensive crisis scenario dry runs. This is the time to explore literally anything and everything that could go wrong and ensure that your organization is prepared to handle every specific failure that could occur. Putting processes in place to manage any potential issue is a strategic way to maintain continuity in a time of crisis.
Preparing a response for every possible challenge takes plenty of planning along with practice. Include the following steps in your crisis management planning.
- Establish a response team.
- Identify the impact of the crisis.
- Build a communication plan (internal and external).
- Put your planning to the test with a run-through.
- Finally, look closely at any areas of weakness in your response and identify places where your current technology falls short.
Proactive planning pays off.
Regular technology assessments and proactive crisis planning can pay off in spades in the unfortunate event that your organization experiences a failure. You’ll need buy-in across your organization to do a proper technology assessment and to create a practical plan for any potential failure.
Avoiding a technical meltdown doesn’t have to be difficult, but it’s not a set-it-and-forget-it type of initiative. The key is to start now with a comprehensive review. Beyond the initial review, scheduling regular check-ins can improve your organization’s visibility into where your technology is now and where you want it to go.