Wiens explained. “Without accurately scoping that project, it may have a suc- cessful project according to the project guidelines, but it doesn’t work for the organization.” A potential question for the planning stage: How does this CRM software af- fect the ERP system?
. Pay smart.
Vendors of on-premise software are often seeking to sell com- prehensive packages, ones that come with any num- ber of modules—which, of course, come at a price. Frank Scavo, president of the consulting firm Strativa, advises compa- nies not to get caught up in acquiring software mod- ules that they won’t use. “These software pack- ages come with mainte- nance fees, which means that once they’re bought, those fees continue every year,” he said. “But if the company’s not going to implement those modules, why pay the maintenance?” He recommends starting with the basic required functionality and, if the project is successful, sign- ing up for additional mod- ules later on.
. Phase it in.
Geoff McPherson, director of selection and implementa- tion at Panorama Consult- ing Solutions, advises com- panies to phase in software deployments. “When these systems are implemented, doing everything at once should be avoided because most organizations can’t handle that much change,” he said. A question McPherson believes is worth asking: How much change can this organization take at one time? “Especially when a company has been on the same system for the past 15 years—the company now wants to change, [but] it doesn’t have a culture of change,” he explained. “Un- less the business is continu- ally tweaking and improv- ing its systems, it’s best to keep the initial deployment simple, and then phase it in from there.”
. Call on the cloud.
There’s a strong argument for a cloud-based software deployment: It can be less expensive (its subscription- based model is attractive to many organizations seeking to decrease large capital ex- penditures), it eliminates the need to maintain serv- ers in-house, and tasks like keeping security patches up to date are the provider’s responsibility. All of this, Wiens ex- plained, “frees up [in-house IT] staff to do more strate- gic initiatives by taking these critical applications and moving them to the cloud.” This includes tech support for cloud applica- tions, since the providers have support desks dedi- cated to the solution in question. All of this is great, but it doesn’t mean that a cloud deployment is much differ- ent from an on-premises software rollout. “It just means the headaches move somewhere else, really,” Wiens said. And sometimes these headaches result from good intentions: A lot of the cloud providers out there are aggressive in introduc- ing new features and updates—many of which benefit their customers— but this means that things like integration and train- ing need to take place regu- larly on-site. “Now it’s necessary to plan for that integration and have new training opportunities for the staff that the company may not have had otherwise,” said Wiens. “So instead of it being an IT issue, the com- pany now has what is more distributed among the en- tire base of users as a train- ing issue.” This means that once again, it’s necessary to have that point person that em- ployees can come to when they are not sure about something. “Just because it’s in the cloud doesn’t mean that there’s nothing more to do or that the system will just run on its own,” Wiens ex- plained. “While the deploy- ment may be over, as long as the software is in use, someone inside the com- pany needs to provide support. Make sure that someone owns that appli- cation and can answer questions.” ;
is a freelance writer and editor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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