Technology Outcomes and Business Outcomes

As an outsourced service provider, many would assume the sole focus of our efforts for our clients is on technical matters.   However, the majority of our engagement is consultative and is more heavily business-focused than technologically-focused.   Yes, we are often discussing technology issues or solutions, but the decision matrix for determining whether a project or new solution should be entertained needs to involve both technology benefits and business benefits.

When entertaining a technology solution or project, at least one of four possible Technology Outcomes should result.  These include:

Increased Security – Keeping your data, well,… yours… is the driving factor behind many initiatives.  With data residing both behind, and outside, of your firewalls, a perpetual focus on increasing security is a driving factor behind IT initiatives for many clients in many industries.

Improved Stability – As technologies mature, those designed for enterprise or mid-market organizations often become affordable for small to medium businesses.  Many of these enterprise-level technologies are designed to provide stable, multi-user environments for “24×7” or “five-nines” up-time, a common goal for organizations of any size.

Improved Performance – The speed of business continues to increase, and patience for lags in performance are rarely tolerated.  Removing performance barriers to do more, faster, is an often-sought after outcome.

Increased Capacity – At times, the current solution is secure, stable, and performs well, but needs to scale to accommodate the growing needs of an organization.  What works for 20 users may not work for 200, and new solutions are sought that can scale with the organization.

Provided at least one of these Technical Outcomes can be achieved, any project or new solutions must also accommodate at least one Business Outcome.  A Business owner or manager isn’t interested in technology for technology’s sake – IT projects or solutions need to help an organization to make more money, or spend less money, or they’re not worth doing.  The three primary desired Business Outcomes include:

Increased Revenues – Quite often, if an organization lacks capacity and/or performance, then a correlation exists where technology is a barrier to further expansion and an increase in revenue.  By leveraging the right new technologies, an organization can increase revenues as a result.  The outcome, or desired state, of the project must be tied to an increase of revenues as the result, not just that you have new shiny equipment in the rack in the server room.

Decreased Costs – Many times, we’ll bring on a new client who is currently leveraging older technologies that require extraordinary effort to keep running, artificially increasing the costs associated with IT for the organization.  By spending a little time and effort on the front end for the implementation of better technologies, then long-run savings can result by eliminating the extraordinary efforts in the future.

Improved Efficiencies – By increasing capacities and improving workflows, technology can serve as a business accelerator.  For many businesses, payroll is by far the largest expense incurred by the organization.  By leveraging technologies to increase output without adding staff and increasing payroll, an organization can reap extraordinary results.

Once both Technology Outcomes and Business Outcomes are defined when identifying a project or solution, one additional consideration must be entertained.   Does an appropriate budget exist?   Many organizations have defined a cost under which they want a project to fall.  However, often times these budgets are nothing more than a guess, and are based on a random place holder number rather than undergoing a cost/benefit analysis.

For example, let’s say an organization has budgeted $10,000 for a particular project.  For that project, they’ve received two proposals… $9,000 for one that produces X in results, or $12,000 that produce 2X in results.  The first option falls under budget, but the second produces twice the value, defined as the benefits outweighing the costs.

When considering potential projects or solutions, consider both the Technology Outcomes and Business Outcomes that will result.  That’s what delivers value; that’s… Innovative.