IT Risk #5 – Technology Selection Process

IT Risk #5 – Technology Selection Process 150 150 Shandam Consulting

If you were born in the 1940’s, you could expect a TV to last 10 or more years. If you were born in this century, a 5-year-old TV is positively ancient. The speed of obsolesce has increased.  This impacts those of us who work in Information Technology as well, with technology changing so quickly that identifying a replacement technology is a big part of a what technologist’s do.   Many products now have a lifecycle from cradle to grave in as little as 5 years, so over a 30-year IT career, selecting a technology is something you can expect to do a lot.

Shandam Consulting is in a unique position as neither a reseller or vendor, which allows us to not have a “dog in the fight” when picking a technology since we are not tied with any vendor, technology or platform. We make our bones helping our clients pick the best solution for their needs, not ours.

In our role as trusted advisors, we seldom come across a formal technology selection process with our clients. More commonly the technology chosen is based on cost, vendor relationships, or prior experience. All of these are valid reasons, but ignore a very important factor:

“What is the Total Cost of Ownership for a particular technology?”

Everyone understands purchase price, but what about all the intangibles that can increase the total costs of a technology over its expected service life?

  • Reliability – is this technology dependable, secure and stable?
  • Expected lifetime – has the vendor stated, in writing, the product will be supported for the expected lifetime of the product?
  • Training – is high quality training available locally? Or do your people need to fly to Kuala Lumpur to attend a class?
  • Support – is expert level support available 24/7/365 from someone you can understand?  Nothing worse than a 2 AM conference call in a noisy data center with a limited command of the English language.
  • Integration – does this technology integrate with existing systems, including monitoring, backup, security and management platforms?
  • Third party evaluations – is this technology well respected within the industry?
  • Financial viability – is this product going to be around in 2 years? Or will the vendor be acquired by a competitor and killed off?

We typically gather client requirements and then rank them by “must have” and “nice to have” features.

We then survey the market and identify industry leaders using third party organization such as Gartner and InfoWorld. Then we reach out to the shortlisted vendors and obtain their specification sheets. These are then entered a matrix using the requirements rankings, and then color coded by level of importance.

Green = Good
Yellow = Caution
Red = No go


Ideally if this matrix is done correctly, the best technology can be picked from across the room by just selecting the most “green” options.  This approach removes personal bias and helps reduce the “religious wars” that are so commonly encountered when selecting technology.

As a trusted adviser with no sales incentives, Shandam has delivered technology selection matrices to large government and education organizations that were used to successfully guide multi-million-dollar procurements.