How to Ace the Tech Deal: 5 Questions Every Non-Tech Manager Should Ask
Technical Due Diligence for Software and SaaS deals can be daunting at the best of times. We at Intium focus on a number of areas for our Tech DD (and other) services which include Product Management, Architecture, Security, the Organization or team structure, and the so-called Software Development Lifecycle. In this blog article, we seek to explain each of these five disciplines in layman's terms -- but doing so is not enough for non-technical stakeholders! Herein we also outline the one key question our team feels must be asked (if one could not ask any others) for each rubric. In a word, this article outlines the top 5 questions non-technical deal teams must ask as they explore the opportunity.
Product Management - In the realm of Software, "Product Management" refers to the process of planning, coordinating, and overseeing the development of a product or service. This includes defining the features and requirements of the product, as well as establishing a timeline for development and release. A key component of Product Management is the related Roadmap.
Top Question # 1 - What roadmap items correspond to top product weaknesses?
By asking this question, deal managers can gain insight into the roadmap as a whole, and see if it is balanced, covers more than just feature development, and is consistent with the overall business strategy. Additionally, analysts can assess whether the balance between new features and initiatives pertaining to product weaknesses is adequate and that the company is not just focusing on one area of development. By understanding the roadmap items that are related to top product weaknesses, one can evaluate whether the product development team is enhancing the product with new features, while also addressing the right areas of improvement and that the product strategy is in line with the business objectives.
Architecture - "Software Architecture" refers to the high-level structure of a software system, including the relationships and interactions between various components and systems. It is concerned with the organization and behavior of the system in different scenarios.
Top Question #2 - How is Architecture Suitable for Business Strategy?
By evaluating the target team’s understanding of architecture, it can be ascertained if the team can tie system structures to the business itself. It also helps to understand if management is capable of traversing technical topics at a high level. Being able to uncover the intrinsic connection between business and technology, and seeing how management navigates it, allows one to evaluate if the strategy as developed will be successful and beneficial for the business longer term.
Security - "Security" involves the measures taken to protect a system or network from unauthorized access or attacks. This can include implementing firewalls, encryption, and authentication to safeguard sensitive data, as well as security principles involved in developing the solution at hand.
Top Question # 3 - What did your last pen-test yield and what did you learn? When was that?
Knowing the results of the last penetration test and what learnings were extracted allows one to see if security is taken seriously and that the team is actually learning from the results and fixing them instead of just going through the motions. It also serves as a sign of security awareness throughout the organization as regular pen-testing and resultant learning assimilation demonstrate that security is taken seriously. A sporadic approach to findings prevents organizations from identifying any weak points in their security posture and limits necessary improvements to remediate the issues, as well as limits insights into the latest cyber security threats and the ability to be prepared to defend against them.
Organization - "Organization" refers to the structure and operation of a group or business. It involves the way tasks and responsibilities are divided and delegated, as well as the relationships between different departments or teams. Just like Architecture, the organizational structure needs to support and be suitable for the business, promoting efficiencies and rationalized lines of communication.
Top Question # 4 - Who owns the system architecture?
Knowing who owns the system architecture in an organization is critical for understanding how the organization manages the system. It provides insight into the way the organization goes about creating and maintaining a cohesive architecture. Depending on the organization, the architecture may be managed by a System Architect, an Architecture Council, a Chief Technology Officer (CTO), or some other individual or group. By understanding who is responsible for the system architecture, it is possible to evaluate whether the organizational structure makes sense and whether the right people are in the right roles. This can also indicate whether the organization has established principles and processes to ensure consistent product development and implementation.
SDLC - The "Software Development Life Cycle" (SDLC) is a process for planning, designing, building, testing, and maintaining software. It typically includes steps such as gathering requirements, designing the system, implementing and testing the code, and deploying the software to users - all in a coherent and balanced iterative cycle.
Top Question # 5 - How long does it take from planning to release in production?
It is important to understand the amount of time it takes from planning to release in production because said is indicative of how efficiently the development team is working. A shorter release cycle indicates that the team is able to work in parallel cross-functionally and is agile enough to respond quickly to changes in the business environment. On the other hand, a longer development time implies that there is a lack of automation and interdisciplinary deficiencies, which can ultimately lead to costly delays. Knowing the release cycle enables one to assess how rationalized the target’s development process is, and sense whether the timing meets the needs of the business.
Technology Due Diligence is a sophisticated process assessing technology risk and providing investors a baseline for an informed go/no-go decision and healthy value creation. As a testament, Intium's tech due diligence includes more than 3,000 data points and details that provide a comprehensive technical evaluation of investments. Even though there may be more questions to be asked down the line, getting a sense of the technology risk factors early on can greatly reduce time spent on a sub-par prospect.
At Intium, we pride ourselves on our deep expertise in technology due diligence. Whether you're looking to make a strategic investment, identify potential risks, or optimize your technology portfolio, we're here to help you navigate the complex world of technology and make informed decisions. Trust us to provide you with the knowledge and support you need to succeed.