Most business application deployment projects come with a big expectation of all the benefits they will deliver. Indeed, when implemented correctly, today’s high-performance enterprise systems can help improve operational intelligence, streamline work processes, reduce costs, improve collaboration, and ultimately drive business growth.
At a time when virtually every organization is scrambling to harness the potential of digital technology, IT teams are in a unique position to drive this transformation. However, instead of the promised leaps in innovation and productivity, many of today’s software deployment projects get bogged down by a number of obstacles including lack of transparency in the implementation process, integration complexity, and no clear metrics to quantify improvements or measure business value.
According to one report, only 29 percent of IT project deployments are successful and 19 percent are considered utter failures. These are astonishing figures when you consider the often mission-critical nature of many of these applications.
Some complications and obstacles can’t be avoided, but it doesn’t mean your effort is doomed from the start. Understanding the common factors that drain business value and diminish ROI and learning how to avoid them can drastically improve your likelihood of success.
In this guide you’ll discover:
- The importance of due diligence and sound business application planning
- Core components of an effective software procurement and management strategy
- Key benefits of a proper application integration and management
- The advantages of working with an expert partner
In today’s environment of rapid business change, short-sighted decisions can result in costly, inefficient investments and technology complexity. As your business applications age over time, problems can emerge, including redundancies, inefficiencies and unplanned information silos. That’s where a strategic, carefully planned application strategy can deliver immense value.
An effective evaluation begins by examining your current operational and business requirements to identify the core attributes and functionality you will need from the business system. Why exactly are you interested in the application? What problems should it solve? What opportunities should it create for the business? Do you have industry-specific requirements beyond the abilities of your current system?
This detailed examination can help justify your business case and pinpoint the precise capabilities you will need right from the start. Keep in mind that your long-term business strategy will determine the core criteria for selecting and properly managing your selected solution.
Consider not only the features you need now, but the ones you may need in the near term. Ideally, you’ll want a solution that is flexible enough to accommodate evolving business processes and new initiatives and is scalable enough to shifting business demands.
Data gathered during the assessment is used to create a business application deployment, integration and management strategy, which involves several core steps:
- Evaluating the expertise and skills of key stakeholders and their ability to quickly engage and use the new system effectively
- Creating a custom, prioritized list of projects and initiatives you need to complete to ensure your investment will support business goals
- Examining your business systems and applications for adherence to best practice standards
- Conducting an analysis to identify gaps between your business’s needs and the mix and performance of existing applications and infrastructure
- Understanding the timelines, milestones, and estimated costs for each proposed project
Your business application planning strategy should be refreshed every two to five years. Shifting priorities and disruptions in technology are continuously changing the performance and functionality needs of the application por
Businesses will often look to the latest business systems that will deliver the fastest return on investment. This approach can work in the short term, but without proper planning IT teams find themselves struggling to manage an unwieldy IT infrastructure.
To take advantage of the opportunities enabled by the digital era, your need an application architecture that can meet the demands. Rigid monolithic platforms are increasingly being updated with flexible, adaptable architectures as the focus shifts to the flexible integration of new systems and technologies.
Platform flexibility is of particular importance to businesses that must adhere to government regulations, such as life sciences and healthcare, should be especially concerned about design flexibility. If the application can’t be easily upgraded with new functionality to support new requirements, you may need to find an alternative solution, which may be a unwieldy, error-prone and expensive to maintain.
One major challenge in effective business application planning is the optimization of legacy infrastructure. Your application strategy should identify the capabilities of your legacy systems and chart defined path toward their eventual retirement. A gradual replacement and eventual abandonment of the legacy software is often the least disruptive.
In crafting an effective application strategy, careful evaluation of several key criteria can help ensure optimum business value and return.
- Plan for future growth. Consider not only the capabilities you need now, but the features you may need a year or five years from now. Enterprise business applications are a long-term investment. You need a platform that can easily adapt to changing business demands and shifting priorities and offers sufficient flexibility to integrate new functionality as needed. Consider your over-arching business strategy and make evaluations based on your long-term plan. What does the system need to support in the future? How do you want to deploy the solution? Which model will best suite your immediate and long-term needs?
- Assess the cost equation. Cost is obviously a major consideration, but should not be dominating factor. A lower cost system can often create more issues in the long run, including lack of flexibility meet shifting needs. In some cases, you can achieve a better return with a more robust system with a higher price if it proves to align best with your company’s needs. The ultimate goal is to accelerate business performance and maximize your ROI. Implementing a solution that delivers the best overall return is more important than minimizing upfront costs.
- Involve key stakeholders. It’s important to engage key stakeholders early in the evaluation process. You will need their cooperation and backing not only during the early stage stages but also throughout the implementation and operation phases of the project. How well they engage and interact with the system can be a determining factor in long-term user acceptance and satisfaction.
- Assess vendor capabilities. To help minimize risk and ensure optimum performance, be sure to work with an experienced consultant with an established implementation methodology. It’s important to determine how support will be provided, and if it will meet your operational requirements. What amount of implementation and training support will you require with the new system? Is support provided as part of the product offering, or is it an additional cost? Your consultant should have a track record of success in your industry, particularly if your business is highly specialized.
- Evaluate deployment options. Choose a deployment model that will best meet your business needs, whether it’s on-site or in the cloud. Determining the right deployment model provides an important perspective for evaluating platform appropriateness and a employ a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model to minimize onsite support requirements.
- Conduct ongoing monitoring. Like any technology investment, business applications require ongoing monitoring and improvements to ensure they continue to perform as intended. Once the new system is online, regularly engage with users to determine whether the system is working as intended or if adjustments are needed to improve operation. With open and honest feedback, you can organize suggestions into groups such as process workflow improvements, software updates, or system integration.
Understanding what performance functionality your business needs to reach its goals is essential. Knowing how to get it done is equally important.
For more than 20 years, ZAG Technical Services has been helping organizations evaluate, manage and modernize their IT infrastructure and business systems. Our engineering-driven team understands today’s complex integration and business application planning challenges. Our experienced software consultants help you procure the right solution for your needs, develop the business case for change, and provide a roadmap for the journey.
Effective business application planning allows you to more easily adapt to shifting business need or new priorities. Our business system advisors can help you identify, evaluate and select the software that best meets your unique functionality and performance requirements. We provide an easy-to-understand analysis to explain which software platforms will benefit your business the most and why. Our partnerships with leading business software vendors, including Microsoft help ensure a smooth integration into your legacy infrastructure.
With ZAG business applications consulting you get:
- Expert software advice on today’s leading business applications and enterprise software
- Improved productivity through smart, well-timed technology investments
- Lower operating costs through targeted application updates and improvements in process efficiency
- Accurate, prompt responses to any issues that may arise
- Smooth system integration with minimal transition downtime
Our business application planning approach helps ensure your investment decisions are aligned with your strategic goals. Our experts bring industry experience, proven methodologies, and unique collaboration capabilities to help ensure your success.
As the rate of business change continues to accelerate, your application infrastructure need to keep pace. At ZAG, we begin with a review of your mission, vision, and goals so that we can determine how best to leverage your technology and software investments to deliver optimum business value.
Our expert consultants understand the complexities and challenges of application integration and deployment and work to ensure your solutions align with your priorities and will scale appropriately. Using a comprehensive planning and evaluation approach, we help you shape, refine and execute a business application plan that optimizes your investment, minimizes risk, and drives competitive advantage.
With business application planning and management assistance from ZAG, you’ll benefit from:
- A clear picture of your IT capabilities, strengths, weaknesses and how well your business application selection aligns with your long-term goals
- A defined action plan to address any technology performance, efficiency, and compliance issues
- Lower operating costs through well-timed business system updates and targeted improvements in applications and process efficiency
- Increased productivity through smart technology investments designed to meet current and future needs
- Better IT security practices and processes through intelligent application planning and enhanced awareness of IT vulnerabilities and weaknesses
- Greater organization-wide agreement and buy-in around technology decisions and investment priorities.
New enterprise software packages enter the market all on a regular basis. Some will accelerate business performance while others will drain resources with little return. Separating solid options that deliver real value from the many that come up short requires expertise and continuous education and insight into the latest features and capabilities.
ZAG uses its deep business application knowledge and understanding of how technology will impact business models to help guide you to the right solution. From designing IT security and business continuity programs and integrating those practices across the enterprise, we can help ensure that your infrastructure and business software investment decisions are built on a firm foundation.
As global economies become more uncertain, organizations face increasing pressure to remain competitive. While the right business application can help, it’s only as effective as the effort placed on proper planning, selection, integration and management.