A tactical approach focuses on individual components and may yield the greatest short-term results but not necessarily position you for the future business environment. An example of this approach would be rebuilding the Excel integration between your core applications or replacing your general ledger system.

All-at-once or piecemeal?
Scope creep-the tendency of projects to grow bigger and bigger as you undertake them-is common in technology projects because individual components are so interdependent. You should make an early decision about whether you want to tackle the entire infrastructure or approach things one step at a time. Funding availability may factor into the decision.

A staged approach makes sense. For example, core portfolio and general ledger applications may be a logical first step, followed by ancillary applications such as advanced analytics and reporting. A building block approach can yield meaningful benefits and positions the platform and organization for the next stage.

3. Find the right solution.

There may be many solutions that fit your problem-perhaps too many. Which ones match your immediate and long-term needs? Which are affordable? Which ones will work in your environment? Narrow the field as early as possible so you can focus on the viable candidates. Some options to consider:

Best-of-breed or integrated solutions?

"Best-of-breed" refers to an a la carte solution in which multiple vendors provide the individual components. This approach gives you the luxury of handpicking the components that you want, allowing greater customization to your needs. You will, however, face the sometimes-daunting challenge of integrating the components so they work together seamlessly. You will also be forced to deal with multiple vendors for support.

In an integrated solution, you buy the complete package from one vendor. This solution should, at least theoretically, allow you to avoid the headache of making sure everything works together with a common interface. The downside to this one-source shopping approach is that the package may not have all of the functionality that you need.

In-house or outsourced?

Another consideration is the responsibility for running the system. Do you want an in-house staff to have complete control and responsibility for your technology infrastructure? Or is it in your best interests to hand off some or all of the work to a third party?