Technology systems grow over time but, planned growth is critical to keep the systems cost effective and to ensure the systems’ performance continues to meet its objectives.
As technology systems become more integrated into the success of organizations, significant internal resources are used managing continuity and mandatory growth to keep up with the daily business objectives. It is often the case that systems are expanded and patched beyond their useful life. A technology master plan helps focus on the long term goals of a technology system as well as helping to determine its useful life.
Systems to consider for a technology master plan include any system that is directly involved in meeting business objectives. These systems typically include data networks, telephone, wireless networks, audio-video, conferencing, security, and life safety systems. With energy management becoming a priority for many organizations, intelligent building systems, and other integrated building technologies are now being added to the master plan.
There are other technology systems that are industry specific such as medicine, justice, aviation and instructional technology. A preplanning effort should be implemented to evaluate all the systems that should be included in the master plan.
Another important consideration for today’s technology is how current the systems are with respect to mobility. Mobility issues can affect everything from company-issued devices, personal devices (both in the workplace and external) and mobility app integration.
A typical master plan master plan is conducted in three phases: fact finding, analysis, and recommendations. The fact-finding phase includes evaluating the business objectives of the systems and their current performance. Interviewing stakeholders is also an important aspect of this phase to help determine how the systems are performing, and what effort goes into their upkeep for continuity and maintenance. Other stakeholders often interviewed include major system users and management involved in the budgeting for the systems. The current state of infrastructure for the systems is also evaluated including cabling, pathways, and equipment spaces. The availability of space for parallel systems or cable plants can sometimes influence system replacement plans.
The analysis phase includes organizing system architecture diagrams, coordinating with vendors to determine current options for expansions of or modifications to existing systems, and benchmarking the use of these systems with other similar organizations. Other issues that will be evaluated are the scalability of the systems and likelihood for growth of both the systems and the organization or group using the systems. Anticipated budgets are produced for both system maintenance and replacement costs.
The recommendation phase includes the development of the master planning documents. This typically consists of a report that includes a description of each systems’ current usefulness to the organization and a plan for it to be upgraded, replaced or simply maintained for a specified period of time. Recommendations will also include considerations for alternative approaches that may be better suited for the objective and their anticipated impact.
A master planning project is also an opportunity to develop standardization protocols. Often a master planning report will include a set of standards to be utilized when new facilities are built or current spaces are updated. Like all master plan projects, the standardization effort must be kept up to date and reevaluated periodically, typically every three to five years.