Once the leading edge of the India-based delivery model, applications management, and development services has now grown to a $150 billion-dollar industry. As costs shrank due to maturing telecommunications capabilities, the value was too good to ignore—having lower-cost, English-speaking technical resources who were eager to deliver custom software solutions or manage your complex packages and platforms.
But times have changed; the appetite for packaged software solutions continues to grow, at the same time, the technical complexity of these same solutions has significantly decreased. With the availability of SaaS solutions which are more intuitive (and more manageable), the scope and complexity of the older, custom-integrated ERP solutions is declining. Now is the time: Don’t just rethink the solutions and platforms you rely on to run and optimize your business, but also reconsider the partners with whom you choose to collaborate. The right partner incorporates continuous improvement into the overall project and operational lifecycle – from planning and design all the way through to implementation and support.
As you consider your partners, you should keep the following points in mind:
1. Increase your business value
Deploying a new solution isn’t the end of the journey, it’s just the beginning.
Anyone who has ever implemented business applications understands the trade-offs that occur in order to achieve an acceptable IT budget and deadline. What often happens, as a result, is that functionality or capabilities are sacrificed, which can negatively impact the business case as a result. Once deployed, the solution can evolve, but what we see much more frequently is that user adoption is a challenge, training gets shortchanged, and as time passes, either the business evolves beyond the original requirements or staff turnover reduces overall usage of the solution.
An ideal applications management partner continues the journey with you, helping you achieve the business value that was promised.
Your partner should have a strong understanding of both your business and the technology involved. (After all, there’s not much value to be gained from simply resetting passwords and closing tickets.) You should continue to explore application functionality and adapt it over time to meet the needs your business users have now, not when it was implemented several years ago. Expect your partner to spend time with your users to understand how (or if!) they’re using the solution, examine the quality of the data they have to work with and gauge the effectiveness of the training provided. A good partner will assess your maturity and provide recommendations that drive necessary improvement and provide business value. You’ve purchased and now operate an extremely capable solution…you simply need a strong partner to help make sure you are getting your money’s worth.
2. Look past technical skills and find a specialist in a specific ecosystem or industry
A valuable applications support partner understands the synergy between all of your cross-functional business processes and the technology footprint which enables them.
Packaged applications no longer cover the breadth of opportunity available to you, whether you’re looking to gain efficiencies and/or increase capabilities. An “IT only” partner can provide low-cost support, but you get what you pay for. These tech partners will not be able to effectively manage the end-to-end business processes that keep your business running smoothly. Whether an individual component is available doesn’t matter; it’s the entire ecosystem working together that is required to deliver the capabilities the business needs in order to be successful.
The right partners know your business and can bring innovation to your organization.
In today’s highly-competitive market, innovation is the key to keeping your customers shopping with your brand and giving your business the tools they need to outpace the competition. This innovation doesn’t only include the technology stack but also the vast wealth of opportunities that you can offer your company to reinvest into how business gets done. The right partner understands the critical nature of your myriad of business processes and brings the proper focus to the supporting technology elements. High-value application management partners come to the table with a deep understanding of nuances that are specific to your Industry, and the daily or seasonal cycles unique to your particular business model. No provider is an expert in every industry, find the one that knows yours!
3. Pay attention to the Total Cost of Ownership and factor in continuous improvement from the outset
A good partner brings a systemic approach and supporting analytic tools, to identify and pursue opportunities.
Often mentioned and discussed at length, TCO is rarely delivered on a consistent basis due to the continuous improvement needed to deliver value from your solution. All of the automation in the world won’t improve your operations if the solutions are simply going unused. The entire relationship between all parties involved parties must be based on a strong governance structure with continuous improvement (from service-levels to cost) as the main item on the agenda.
Regardless of your current situation, the right partner brings the insight you need to find a balanced approach between continuous improvement and also containing costs. By filling critical gaps and bringing unique skills into play, you can follow the path to delivering the value your organization needs to be successful.