TECHNOLOGY STRATEGY AUDIT

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1 TECHNOLOGY STRATEGY AUDIT

2 Executive Summary It is our intention to facilitate the understanding of technology strategy and its integration with business strategies. This guideline is organized as series of questions under 10 critical categories: 1. Business Vision 2. Technology as a Component of the Business Plan 3. The Best Information Enables the Best Decisions 4. The Technology Organization Values & Goals 5. Best Practices & Standards for Technology Processes 6. Selecting and Acquiring Technology 7. Implementing Technology 8. Managing and Maintaining Technology Assets 9. Security, Integrity and Auditability 10. Measuring Performance By considering and addressing these questions, the CIO and IT organization will obtain a clear view of what is needed to integrate IT strategy with that of the business. Morris Communications Company LLC 2

3 1. Business Vision 1. Is the overall business vision clearly understood by both the local and corporate Technology organizations? 2. Is there a formal process for business vision development, evolution and communication? 3. Who is involved in the business vision development and evolution process? Does the Technology group play an active role? 4. What is the process for monitoring business results against the vision, and updating strategies as needed? 5. What are the time horizons for developing business vision and associated plans? Are we looking ahead one year, three years, five years, ten years? Is the time horizon appropriate? 6. Is business scenario forecasting used? For example, if we forecast that by the year 2005 over 90% of consumers in our market area will be connected to the internet and will use the Internet for classified advertising and purchases, what does this mean for our business vision and strategy? 7. Have we developed an overall technology strategy? For example, do we want to be the premier provider of timely and relevant local information in our market, using the most technologically advanced products and services in our market / industry segment? Or, alternatively, do we want to be the lowest cost provider in our market / industry segment? Morris Communications Company LLC 3

4 2. Technology as a Component of the Business Plan Integration of Business Vision and Technology Strategy 1. Are technology plans developed as part of an integrated business plan, with input from senior-level management, marketing, operations and other business areas? 2. Are technology plans closely aligned with the business vision, goals and objectives? 3. Are technology plans developed to provide the business with competitive advantage? 4. Are technology plans updated in concert with changes to the business plan? Financial Considerations 1. Is there a formal business case process used to evaluate investments in technology, including cost /benefit analysis, payback analysis, return on investment? 2. Does the business case tie back to overall business objectives? 3. Are technology projects and budgets an integral part of the business plan and budget? 4. Are technology projects capitalized in accordance with an approved capitalization guideline? 5. Are technology infrastructure projects (e.g., network installation) viewed as beneficial across business areas and are costs and benefits identified and allocated accordingly? Are infrastructure and architectural strategies and efforts part of the overall vision, or are they looked at as isolated project efforts? Morris Communications Company LLC 4

5 3. The Best Information Enables the Best Decisions 1. What information collection and management tools are used across the technology organization, as a part of the information infrastructure? Workflow tools Collaboration tools Documentation/Information management tools Electronic messaging / tools Executive Information Systems (EIS) Trend analysis tools Data Warehouses 2. What is the shelf-life of information being used to make decisions? Is the information more that 6-12 months old? Should more current information be gathered? For the fastest-changing technology areas, is a priority put on obtaining the most current information? 3. What research initiatives are needed or in progress? 4. Do you have or need a competitive intelligence function? 5. Does your organization look to external sources of information (e.g., the Gartner Group or specialized consultants) to supplement internal sources of information on key business/technology issues, trends and analysis? If so, is this information shared widely throughout your organization? Throughout the enterprise? 6. Does your team continually and systematically review and compare multiple feasible solution alternatives to reach a best decision? In today s rapidly changing technology landscape, you should question the assertion that we have only one option. 7. Are most technology and business decisions based on cross-functional input, rather than input from only one or two areas? 8. Do members of your team regularly review industry and trade publications in key areas affecting your business and technology (e.g., InformationWeek, CIO)? 9. Do members of your team attend industry conferences to collect information from leaders in your industry? 10. Does the Technology group understand what information needs to be provided to the business (even if the business doesn t know it)? 11. Is there a continual commitment to allocating time and resources towards research and learning? Morris Communications Company LLC 5

6 4. The Technology Organization Goals and Values 1. Is there a clear definition of the role and responsibility of the head of the Technology organization? 2. Where does the Technology organization report in to the overall organization? Does this allow appropriate access to the business leaders? 3. How is the effectiveness of the Technology organization measured? Is customer satisfaction (internal and external), quality, cost and schedule included in this measurement? 4. Are compensation plans linked to the performance metrics? 5. How does your Technology expenditure (expressed as a percentage of revenue) relate to industry averages for world class organizations (refer to industry studies for benchmarks)? Do you measure this annually? 6. Is there a clear definition and life cycle roadmap of the portfolio of products and services that the Technology organization provides to customers and clients? 7. Is there a formalized Technology communications plan to communicate to internal and external areas? 8. Are service level agreements in place which accurately describe expected service levels from the corporate and local Technology organization? 9. Does each member of the Technology organization understand the vision, values, goals and objectives of the organization? 10. Does each member of the team understand a clear definition of their role and responsibilities, along with the roles and responsibilities of other members of the team? 11. Does each member of the team have the appropriate skill sets to successfully carry out their roles and responsibilities? 12. Are well-defined training plans in place to assure that team members are kept up to date on important developments relevant to their roles and responsibilities? 13. Is there a clear understanding on how and when the group will use outside resources and outsourcing (e.g., specialized consultants, outside services)? 14. Does the Technology group have a responsibility to train across the organization? 15. Is there a clear definition and understanding of roles and responsibilities for the Technology group and the business units including levels of involvement? 16. Does the Technology group perform a regular customer satisfaction survey? If so, does this include both internal and external customers? Morris Communications Company LLC 6

7 5. Best Practices & Standards for Technology Processes 1. Are Technology standards clearly defined for: Service levels Processes Data / Information Development, Coding, Quality Assurance, Documentation Product / Service life cycles 2. Are there policies for when deviations from standards are appropriate? 3. Are there different standards that apply to external customers and clients? 4. Is there strong participation in internal and external forums, conferences and seminars to stay abreast of best practices in the industry? 5. Are there methods to capture, define and communicate best practices as they evolve in the organization? For example, is there a repository of best practice documents, or an area of responsibility for capturing and communicating best practices? 6. Are there incentives to promote the development, use and re-use of best practices? Morris Communications Company LLC 7

8 6. Selecting and Acquiring Technology 1. Are there established technology purchasing processes (approvals, recommended technologies / vendors, etc.)? 2. Have standard contract terms and conditions for technology acquisition agreements been developed, to be used in the contract negotiation process (e.g., service level agreements, warranties, etc.)? 3. Have efforts been made to leverage corporate-wide strategic agreements with vendors (e.g., Oracle, Sun, etc.)? 4. Has consideration been given to using operating leases for technology equipment, including the evergreen programs offered by Dell, GE, etc.? 5. Have partnering arrangements with strategic vendors been explored? 6. Are Application Service Providers a viable alternative? 7. Does the Technology group work closely with the finance and purchasing units in technology acquisition areas? Morris Communications Company LLC 8

9 7. Implementing Technology 1. Is there strong top level business management commitment, sponsorship and ownership for technology and business change implementation efforts (on a continual basis throughout the life of a project)? 2. Is there a single highly qualified project manager assigned with responsibility for managing every project? 3. Is there a risk management plan in place, including a risk assessment and contingency plans ($ s, time, alternatives) for each project? 4. Is there ongoing review and challenge to project estimates (scope, expenditures, resources, and timeframe) and % complete? Are quantifiable measurements used in these estimates? 5. Is strong configuration management / change control and authorization / sign off in place on all projects? 6. Is there sufficient flexibility in process, communications, and resources to accommodate the inevitable changes that will occur in project plans? 7. Is a commonly accepted and proven systems implementation methodology being used for all projects, to include project management practices, life cycle methodology, estimating techniques and quality assurance? 8. Is there a customization policy to address the level of changes to vendor software? 9. Is there a formal re-use strategy and policy for source and object code? 10. Are performance benchmarks established and measured for all projects throughout a project life cycle? 11. Are there quality checkpoints and risk management assessments for deliverables at regular intervals, at least every three months? 12. Are third party independent quality assurance (QA) reviews performed throughout the life of a project? 13. Are appropriate facilities in place for the implementation effort (computing resources, tools, space, etc.)? 14. Does the project team have the necessary skills and training to successfully complete each project? Morris Communications Company LLC 9

10 8. Managing and Maintaining Technology Assets 1. Are valid software license agreements in place for all appropriate software? 2. Is there a formal policy for upgrades to both packaged and in-house developed software as well as the associated hardware? 3. Are maintenance agreements in place for appropriate hardware and software? 4. Have system and network capacity plans and utilization statistics been developed and are they continually monitored? 5. Is there a formulated approach for the support of all technology assets (hardware, software and communications)? 6. Are internal operations and support processes and documentation in place for all systems, including applications, systems management, network management, desk top and end-user support? 7. Is a configuration management and change control process in place? 8. Is there a formal documented Business Continuation Plan (disaster recovery) in place? Has this plan been tested, and is it tested on a regular basis as required by policy? 9. Is there a technology hardware asset management plan in place, to include inventorying, tagging, tracking and monitoring technology assets? Does this plan address ownership of the asset? Does the plan address equipment for new hires and employees leaving the organization? 10. Is there a technology software asset management plan in place, to include inventorying, life cycle tracking and monitoring? Does this plan address sunset plans of the asset? Does the plan address potential replacement scenarios? 11. Is there a formal life cycle and roadmap for each internally developed software tool and product? Morris Communications Company LLC 10

11 9. Security, Integrity and Auditability 1. Is a documented information and data security policy in place? Does the policy address granting and removing access, authentication, ownership of data and enforcement? 2. How is it ensured that data and information access controlled through a firewall or other mechanism is in accordance to established policies? 3. Is encryption required for highly confidential data? 4. Are there requirements and policies for system availability? 5. Are procedures in place for introducing new programs and code to production environments (e.g., test and quality assurance steps)? 6. Is the system security linked in with the human resource function (e.g., if someone is terminated from the company, are the appropriate actions taken from a security perspective). 7. Is there a physical security plan in place, to include: -- control of physical access o equipment / assets -- conditioned power -- uninterruptible power supply (UPS) -- backups / offsite archival storage -- special policy for laptops 8. Are there policies / guidelines for telecommuting? 9. Is there a communication policy on security? Is there a separate one for employees and clients / customers? 10. Is there a data backup / security policy that extends to each desktop and mobile devices? Morris Communications Company LLC 11

12 10. Measuring Performance 1. Have performance measurements that are relevant to business objectives been established and monitored, including: delivery against plan (financial, features/functions, timeline, etc.) customer satisfaction levels system throughput network and system utilization level system downtime / user or customer downtime time to respond to service call and completely fix the issue (workarounds not included) variance to estimates (e.g., for development and implementation projects) 2. Are industry, enterprise-wide, and internal best practice benchmarks known and compared against actual results achieved on a regular basis? 3. How are estimates (cost and timeframe) developed for technology projects? Are formal estimating methods used such as function point analysis? Are estimates compared to actuals as a feedback loop to continuously improve estimating precision on future projects? 4. Is the Technology group measured in two key areas: -- successful delivery of new capabilities / systems in a timely and cost efficient manner -- successful operation of existing systems? 5. Is there a way to measure how well the group is doing from two different perspectives: -- Is the group doing the right things? -- Is the group doing things right 6. What actions are taken based on the performance metrics? This material is copyrighted property of Morris Communications Company. It is approved for sharing with members of the IT community and is not to be reproduced or distributed for sale. Morris Communications Company LLC 12

13 Morris Communications Company LLC 13

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