Resource type: Blog

Ten key questions to ask when developing a systems specification

How do you ensure that you get the right digital technologies in place to support your business in the most effective way? It’s unquestionably getting more difficult with a plethora of on-premise, hybrid and cloud options available. Accessing the cloud via superfast broadband offers a variety of tools, technologies and potential solutions to meet your business needs.

A sensible first step is to develop a system specification that documents your requirements. There are ten key questions you can ask yourself in order to ensure that the specification really does reflect your business’s requirements. Engage with your teams to ensure important operational and managerial factors are considered, getting early buy in will always help the eventual deployment of any system.

  1. The first, and most critical question is …what are the main business reasons for the new IT system? This ensures that the requirement for the system is business-driven rather than technology-driven (it’s also important that the system fits in with your overall IT strategy which will continue to underpin your business plan).
  2. Who will be using the new system and where will they be based – in the office, at home or out on the road?
  3. Does the new IT system need to be compatible with any existing systems and, if so, are there any limiting factors that potential suppliers should be aware of?
  4. What are the key performance issues, such as the volume of work the system will need to handle, the response times required, or any peak workload considerations?
  5. Are there any regulatory requirements you need to consider, perhaps specific to your particular industry?
  6. How is the business projected to grow over the next two to three years and will the proposed solution be capable of expanding if the anticipated growth actually takes place?
  7. How dependent will your business be on the new system and, therefore, what levels of reliability and availability should you be looking for and does it fit in with your business continuity planning?
  8. Have you determined an outline budget for the initial acquisition and ongoing maintenance and development of the proposed system?
  9. Is the specification clear, easy to read and jargon free, and have you established the main criteria upon which the eventual system selection will be made?
  10. And finally, even at this early stage of procurement, do you have a clear view on how the overall success of the selected system will be measured once it has been implemented?By addressing these questions you’ll ensure that you put together a clear specification of requirements which you can then share with potential suppliers, giving them the information they need to be able to demonstrate how they will meet your needs.

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