All organizations are on a journey from where they are today, to where leadership envisions the organization should be in the future. A vision of the future is (hopefully) defined by goals and objectives, and (hopefully) includes a strategy of how to get there. In today's digital world, information technology is a critical enabler for any organization, so there will be countless technology decisions between here and there and each will bring the organization closer to or further from the envisioned future. Hence the importance of making better technology decisions.
Before going any further, let's establish some working definitions:
Information Technology. The Gartner Glossary defines Information Technology (IT) as follows:
“IT” is the common term for the entire spectrum of technologies for information processing, including software, hardware, communications technologies and related services.Gartner Glossary
In layman's terms, Information Technology is all the stuff typically used to electronically store, retrieve, view, move, or manipulate information. In this article, we refer to this as "technology" to avoid conflating it with the Information Technology department.
Decision. Oxford defines decision as
The action, fact, or process of arriving at a conclusion regarding a matter under consideration; the action or fact of making up one's mind as to an opinion, course of action, etc.;Oxford English Dictionary
After consideration, we concluded that this definition works for us!
A technology decision, therefore, is a conclusion related to technology reached after consideration!
People use the word decision to refer to both the pre-consideration challenge (“we need to make a decision”) and the conclusion arrived at (“this was the decision”).
We define “better” in this case to be a conclusion that provides better support than other possible conclusions for the following:
“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.”Theodore Roosevelt
The thing about technology decisions is that there is no avoiding them. If you don't make a decision, it makes itself, often reaching a conclusion that wasn't even one of the options under consideration. There is no such outcome as "no decision," just unexpected and sometimes detrimental default decisions. Minimize the number of technology decisions that make themselves and make better technology decisions by having a process in place for making these decisions.
The subject of cognitive bias in decision making is a topic unto itself, but it refers to the errors in thinking that can irrationally influence how we make decisions. We have all witnessed a decision-maker make a technology decision for reasons having nothing to do with sound analysis, e.g. he or she has used and liked a product in a prior organization. Having a well-defined decision process can introduce objectivity into decisions to offset the impact of cognitive bias. Here are some of the elements of an effective technology decision process:
It is also critical that decision-makers have the information they need to make better technology decisions. We can infer the necessary information from the section above, where we defined what was meant by "better technology decision." The required information is:
The road for your organization's journey from where it is now, to where leadership would like it to be is paved with technology decisions of all sizes. Your technology decisions will take your organization somewhere. Making better technology decisions will take the organization where you want it to go.
If you think you could use some support to improve the way your organization makes technology decisions, please contact us! We have helped other organizations design the right "navigation systems," and would love to help you!