In my previous blog article How Custom Software helps your organisation become more competitive! I explained the three different Gartner categories for IT systems and their correlation with your business processes. Furthermore, you could learn how to define whether a business process is standard or critical and how to raise your organisation’s competitiveness by managing your critical business processes with “Integrated Custom Software Solutions”.
In this article, I go one step further and explain the steps to a successful implementation of Integrated Custom Software Solutions and how to benefit from an optimal ROI. The critical success factors are to be listed as follows:
- 3-Point-Project-Approach (IT – Business – Communication)
- Design Thinking Process
- Reusable software components
Next to defining and optimising the business-critical processes and selecting the appropriate Integrated Custom Software Solution for managing these processes, it is crucial to involve the future users from the beginning of the implementation and analyse their work methods and preferences/requirements in terms of software ergonomics. I believe this 3-point-project-approach (= attaching equal importance to implementing the right IT technology, analysing and optimising the relevant business processes and involving and enthusing the users through communication concepts) is critical for the new software solution to be accepted and utilised by its future users.
Design Thinking Process
The Integrated Custom Software Solution should be developed according to the Design Thinking Process.
YouTube video with a 1 minute brief overview of the Design Thinking Process:
Reusable software components
A key element for reducing project costs and thus keeping the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) as low as possible is the utilisation of reusable software components. These are for instance a reusable user interface framework (a GUI), data storage framework (transaction handling), message output framework (errors, help messages, warnings) or classification component. Throughout the years, past projects have provided us with a large set of reusable software components that can easily be fitted into new Integrated Custom Software Solutions. I believe that our strong focus on reusable software components helps us saving implementation time and keeping the total project costs low.
Integrated Custom Software Solutions have to be adaptable to always changing and additionally arising requirements. This ensures the critical business processes for competitiveness and productivity to be implemented and extended as desired in the appropriate custom software solution and the investment of implementing a Custom Integrated Software Solution being profitable in the long run.
How custom software is made flexible
A table-based customising part (cfr. standard ERP software, such as SAP ERP) makes the Integrated Custom Software Solution very flexible and easily adaptable to future requirements.
Moreover, flexibility should be attached great importance to already at the design phase of the software architecture. This also enables a 360° integration in the organisation’s SAP systems and IT strategy (Organisation – Master Data – Business Processes).
Software products are typically in an ongoing cycle of development, testing and release, often running on evolving platforms with growing complexity. Moreover, growing and dynamic organisations are continually adjusting their IT systems to ensure they are aligned to customer acquisition, customer service and other growth prospects. Because of that, a strong Release Management Strategy is crucial. Releases can vary significantly in their size and composition and could include:
- New software features delivered through a mini-project.
- Routine minor enhancements in the form of Business as Usual (BAU) change requests.
- Minor defect fixes in the form of Business as Usual (BAU) service requests.