5 Questions To Help Manage Technology Risk

One of the best parts of my job is getting to see all the new technologies and the major shifts in the industry. If you have been in the IT field over the last couple years it has been accelerating at what I would label an insane pace. Even in the last couple months alone it feels like there has been a new tidal wave of major transformations emerging all at once.

While we (I) can get excited about the prospects of advancements like all-flash SAN’s, new OpenStack platforms, and software defined data-centers there still is an overwhelming feeling of “the unknown” when evaluating these products. As hard we try most of us cannot predict the future yet are asked to make very difficult decisions that have very long consequences. The ask from the business is to make pragmatic choices in what I would call a highly stressful fast moving emotionally charged environment with little to no information.

Often I get asked how do other people/companies navigate this world of constant change and, lets face it, vague or misleading marketing information?

My answer is you don’t.

At the end of the day it is all blind guess work and just like everyone else it is trying to make the best decision possible with the information we have available.

Remember, no decision is ever truly perfect. However, I do think there are some ways to help narrow down possible choices and build some repeatable frameworks around the decision process.

I call this Technology Risk Management (TRM) and it involves asking some upfront difficult questions during the decision phase:

  • How can we the organization (if possible) avoid all risk together?

  • If we cannot how do we limit or mitigate the impact of the potential risk?

  • Are there action we can take to reduce this potential risk?

  • Can we share this risk with other parties (Vendors, other business units, partnerships etc.)?

  • Finally, once we factor in these identified risks is the appropriate costs/reward involved to warrant this risk?

I must warn you this process can and will sometimes slow down or kill a project which is never a popular outcome. Still, I believe the benefits outweigh the negatives and can help provide some much needed peace of mind or more likely some protection if things go terribly wrong.

Best practices would have you not only internally evaluate these questions with your team but also ask for responses from the potential vendors and other external partners involved. Hold them accountable for sharing known risk that are involved with their product(s). They may bring up things (good or bad) you didn’t even think about.

Document these responses and use them as part of your overall decision criteria.

Keep these on file and make sure to reference back as you evaluate if your solution was a failure or hopefully a success.