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Once upon a time there was a programmer who developed software, working for a software vendor, and there was a CEO, a CIO, and a sales executive who all worked for a manufacturing business. It was a happy time, where everyone knew who developed software, who bought software, who implemented software, and who used software. In this long-gone era businesses delivered physical goods and professional services, and software was a helpful tool to standardise business processes and automate tedious repetitive tasks. Those were the days where hardware was solid, software was easy to deal with (certainly not harder than dealing with a teenager) and humans were the masters of the universe.

Conclusion: In government organisations the potential for standardisation and process automation via the use of enterprise resource planning software is largely limited to internal administration. In terms of digital service development government organisations can optimise their IT budgets by understanding themselves as knowledge-transformation organisations rather than as consumers of off-the-shelf technology.

Conclusion: The operational model and associated processes of larger organisations in many sectors of the economy are encoded in software. Enterprise software from SAP plays a dominant role in many industries and significantly influences the terminologies and workflows used within organisations, in particular in those domains where SAP offers out-of-the-box solutions. The resulting level of standardisation has tangible advantages, but also represents an upper limit to the level of operational efficiency that is achievable. Organisations that rely on SAP are well advised to get independent advice to determine the optimal level of lock-in to SAP.

Conclusion: Remediating major systems is not a job for the faint-hearted or over-confident IT managers. Poor governance decisions and excessive optimism can easily lead to project failures (and ruin careers). Conversely smart decisions combined with sound project leadership can increase the probability of success and enhance careers.

Conclusion: An organisation planning a CRM upgrade, or deployment of a new CRM, has a wide selection of viable methodologies to choose from. Across the various methodologies there are a common set of principles which make application of a suitable methodology relatively straightforward.

Interpreting and using the most relevant components from a methodology will be important, otherwise there is a risk of being overwhelmed with too much information.

Conclusion: When business critical systems have ‘passed their use-by-date’ or maintenance costs are excessive there is a temptation to fast-track the approval of the replacement systems and underestimate the cost and complexity of doing so. Avoid the temptation by thoroughly defining the scope of the project and include contingencies in the cost estimates to cater for the unexpected. When this is done, start lobbying management so they approve the project first time.

Conclusion: WhileI SaaS and PaaS adoption has been increasing during the last two years, most IT organisations are hesitant to migrate their legacy systems to public SaaS. This is primarily due to the applications being highly customised to support the current business mode of operations. As a result, migration to cloud requires significant effort to retrofit the existing systems in public SaaS architecture. One of the options to address the customisation obstacle is to adopt a rapid business process redesign approach.

Conclusion: There are many benefits in off-the-shelf applications, whether they be onsite or SaaS,  available to organisations in terms of cost reductions, increased productivity, improving market share or customer satisfaction. For organisations that have traditionally followed a custom build approach, there are some key areas that need focus and executive management commitment to ensure the promised value is achieved.

Conclusion: The digitisation of services that used to be delivered manually puts the spotlight on user experience as human interactions are replaced with human to software interactions. Organisations that are intending to transition to digital service delivery must consider all the implications from a customer’s perspective. The larger the number of customers, the more preparation is required, and the higher the demands in terms of resilience and scalability of service delivery. Organisations that do not think beyond the business-as-usual scenario of service delivery may find that customer satisfaction ratings can plummet rapidly.

Conclusion: Organisations that need to run legacy applications under Windows XP will no longer have access to economically sustainable options. In short, there is no way to maintain an XP environment without Software Assurance, and thus there is no practical way for an organisation to continue to run legacy applications without investing in Software Assurance or Enterprise Agreements for the desktop. Organisations should factor in the significant licensing costs when considering the business case for continued support of ‘XP only’ to legacy applications.

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