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Technology review

We are sometimes asked to provide a quick assessment of a technical situation or asset. This might be in the context of
  • Software product or vendor procurement
  • Due diligence for an investment or acquisition
  • Revising corporate priorities or strategies
  • In-house quality management or auditing
  • Troubleshooting or problem resolution
  • Conflict escalation
Such projects are “classic” consulting – analyzing a variety of source material, and providing a quick objective assessment that considers observed facts, client goals, and industry practices.

The amount of work required varies, based on the complexity of the problem and the type of result needed. Useful answers can sometimes result from just a superficial look – “Let me describe this opportunity, and give me a quick reaction.” Other situations may require days, weeks, or months of study.

Technology reviews sometimes benefit from site visits, for data gathering and discussion. If face-to-face dialogue is not essential, however, necessary work can perhaps be completed remotely.

Following are a few examples of review projects from our files, where the right combination of circumstances and information made it possible to reach an answer quickly.
  • Software audit for a troubled project. In a two-day visit, we briefly operated the system, reviewed design documents, spoke with users, examined source code, and formed basic recommendations.
  • Due diligence review. Prior to acquiring a software vendor, a client wanted an assessment of the vendor’s technology base and development methods. We supplied a series of questions to ask, and conducted a brief review based on a combination of public and disclosed material.
  • Company description. Based on telephone discussion and review of emailed documents, we developed a better company story (essentially: its “elevator ride” story). We then drafted a simple one-page collateral document that illustrated how to tell the new story. Although a normal (re-)positioning project usually takes weeks or months, this short review backed up by a tangible example was sufficient to refocus internal efforts.
  • Lost sales review. We were called in to examine a mystery. “Existing users love our product, but we keep losing sales in evaluations. What is going wrong?” Over the course of a few days, we discussed the situation with customers, lost prospects, sales reps, and tech reps; and we experimented hands-on with the product. We identified a critical conflict between sales claims and the training process – the sales process was setting up users for early disappointment. We redesigned the sales presentation and training program to create reasonable expectations.
  • Business plan summary. We gave a hand to an entrepreneur developing a business plan. Although a full business plan project normally takes weeks or months, this quick analysis and summary was sufficient to identify urgent needs, and redirect wasted efforts. The result was a short executive summary document that got everybody working together.