Key Questions When Planning a Computer System

Sections of this topic

    Key Questions
    When Planning a Computer System

    © Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC.

    About the Need for (or
    Problem Solved by) the Computer System

    1. What is the overall purpose of the proposed system?
    2. What major problem(s) does it address in the organization?

    3. How was the problem identified and/or determined?
    4. Is the problem well understood and described in the proposal?

    5. What key personnel were involved in defining the problem?

    About General Requirements
    for the Computer System

    1. What are the required functions of the system that will solve
    the problem? (This question is often responded to by describing
    the technical characteristics of an already preferred computer
    system; however, this approach may result in poorly conceived
    requirements and an inadequate system. One should first identify
    all of the requirements of a new system, and reference these requirements
    when selecting the hardware, software, peripherals, networking,
    2. What planning went into defining these requirements?
    3. Were the end-users of the system involved in determining these
    requirements (they should be)?
    4. Were the general plans for the new system (particularly if
    the system is quite costly compared to the budget of the agency)
    included in the strategic plans of the agency?
    5. Does purchasing the overall system to address the problem have
    the support of key leadership in the agency?

    About the Proposed
    Solution to the Problem

    1. What are the technical specifications that will meet the above-explained
    requirements? Include reference to hardware, software, networking,
    training, maintenance and ongoing internal/external support.
    2. How was the system selected to meet these requirements?
    3. Was a sound cost-benefit analysis conducted? Were all costs
    and benefits considered? Consider direct, indirect and ongoing
    4. Were all major alternatives for obtaining the system considered,
    such as leasing, outsourcing, etc.? The larger the investment,
    the more important that alternatives be investigated.
    5. What system was selected to best meet the functional requirements?

    6. Are all key requirements met by the system?
    7. Describe the system, including key specifications of the hardware,
    software, peripherals, networking, etc.
    8. Is the technology appropriate for current market trends and
    end-user environments, for example, selecting menu-driven interfaces
    rather than command-driven, using generally mainstream vendors,
    9. Is a budget included in the proposal that includes all costs
    associated with the purchase, maintenance, and ongoing support
    of the system?
    10. Are all aspects of the system included in the budget or accounted
    for by other means/reports in the proposal?
    11. Are item specifications listed sufficiently to assess the
    reasonableness of budgets costs for the items?
    12. Was attention paid to low-cost solutions? Is it possible to
    apply volume discounts in any way? 13. Do all staff and/or volunteers
    listed in the proposal, really need computers?
    14. What’s being done with any old systems?
    15. Is the budget approved by key leadership?
    16. Has collaboration been considered, either for cost savings
    and/or for the good of the community?

    Implementation Plan
    for the Proposed New System

    1. What is the timeline for the project, in particular for the
    funding, purchase, implementation, testing of the system and for
    evaluating the project?
    2. Are the times reasonable?
    3. Might funds be dispersed in a staged fashion and associated
    with certain benchmarks/milestones to assess the success of the

    About Outcomes and
    Evaluation of the Project

    1. What are the benefits and/or outcomes from usage of the proposed
    2. How will the project personnel evaluate the progress to the
    proclaimed benefits and/or outcomes from the project?
    3. What follow-up activities are planned?

    For the Category of Information Technology:

    To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may want to review some related topics, available from the link below. Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.

    Also, scan the Recommended Books listed below. They have been selected for their relevance and highly practical nature.

    Related Library Topics

    Recommended Books