2.1 Performing a Business Assessment

You first need a detailed business assessment. If you do not have a solid understanding of what the overall business (or individual business units) needs or desires, you cannot design a solution to meet the business needs.

Systems management software affects the entire business, so the various departments should provide inputs and influence what the system should look like. This does not mean that departments outside of IT need to understand the technical complexities of the infrastructure and how it is designed; they simply need to provide business requirements to the IT organization so that their needs are met.

The best way to handle this is through a set of informal workshops, which include a high-level introduction to the technology, what it does, how the departments and end users benefit, and possibly a short demonstration of the product. The three main reasons you hold these workshops are to inform departments of what you are doing, get their buy-in, and get their feedback in the form of technical requirements. The meetings should sufficiently inform department members so they begin to give you feedback as to how they will leverage the system.

The following list provides pointers on how to perform the business assessment. You might think of more ideas; use your imagination and tailor your business assessment according to your organization's unique landscape.

  • Hold informal workshops and invite leaders from each department.

  • Survey departmental leaders and find out what they need in order to become more effective in their roles. Find out how their staff can become more effective, given the software that you are deploying. Getting departmental leaders to answer a written survey can be very effective and can give you details that can be used when building both the high-level and the detailed designs.

  • Ensure that you completely understand how the organization is dispersed and which departments of the organization are represented at each of its physical locations.

  • Ensure that you understand the monthly cycles for each of the departments in the organization. This will assist you with determining peak times when the organization cannot afford to be impacted by downtime.

  • Determine whether the organization is going through an ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) initiative. This has a direct impact on the solution you design and the services you provide. If there is an initiative underway, you need to be involved in it and be completely informed. You want to avoid making design changes mid-project because of the output from another project.