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Minimal IT analysis and design template

The Minimal IT analysis and design template helps you focus your IT project on delivering valuable IT functionality that will be readily adopted by your business. It stops you wasting effort on unrealistic requirements, and on building IT systems that nobody will use.

Purpose of the template
Structure of the template
How to use the template
How to review the documents

Browse the analysis and design template
Download the analysis and design template in Microsoft Word format (32kb)

Disclaimer

Purpose of the template

IT activity is complicated and expensive, and must be controlled to make sure it is effective and efficient. Control is typically applied by writing and signing off documents

Most control documents concentrate on those parts of the activity that are easy:

  • Documenting current business practices.
  • Gathering requirements.
  • Project management formalities: plans, risks, issues.
  • Systems design.

These control documents say little more than "Look at all the work we've done!"

Control documents tend to skimp on the more important aspects:

  • The underlying business opportunity.
  • What business changes need to be made to support the opportunity.
  • How IT could add value, and whether or not it is really required.
  • Validation that the proposed design actually supports the business opportunity.

This is important. The structure and content of control documents dictates the thought processes of the writer and reader. A lot of excess effort in IT stems from the tendency to do lots of what we are good at (documenting current activities, project management, systems design), and ignore things that are difficult (understanding why the IT activity should take place).

The Minimal IT analysis and design templates helps you write control documents which are more effective for management control.

Structure of the template

The template has five main sections:

  • Business opportunity. The business opportunity that might lead to IT activity, and the business changes that would need to take place to exploit the opportunity.
  • IT opportunity. Analysis of whether an IT response will add value, and if so the main business requirements for the IT.
  • IT architecture. The overall structure and technology of the IT response.
  • IT design. A high-level design of the IT system.
  • Plan. The method, plan and costs for delivering the IT response.

The template presents a very careful progression of ideas. Each section is composed of other sub-sections, and each sub-section and section should follow from those that proceed it.

The last two sections - IT design and Plan - are less important and the template is not prescriptive about their contents.

How to use the template

The template contains instructions on how to fill in each section.

Keep the document brief and focussed. Most sections require only a few paragraphs. Complicated responses indicate a lack of focus, which probably means that the solution is unworkable.

It is important to write the document in the order of the template. Do not skip any sections. If you can not fill in one section, hold off writing the next sections until you can.

Review each section as you write it, using the review instructions below. If you do not think the document would pass review, pause and rework the document.

How to review the document

Review the document in sequence, and for each section consider each of these questions in sequence:

  • Is the document clear?
  • Is the section concise and focussed on the main points only?
  • Does the section document what it should document?
  • Is the information true?
  • Is the section consistent with and follows on from previous sections?

As soon as you answer "no" to any of these, stop the review.

If a section is unclear, verbose, off subject, false or inconsistent, how can you review it?

The order of sections implies a progression of ideas. Each builds on the previous sections. Do not let the plausibility or desirability of a later section tempt you to gloss over the inadequacies of an earlier section.

Disclaimer

This template is offered to you for free, without restriction, on an "as is" basis. Although Minimal IT has found this template valuable for its internal use, Minimal IT does not guarantee that this template will be suitable for your particular circumstances, and will not accept any liability for its use.

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