To achieve the best results from systems and processes, organizations should seriously consider custom software solutions. This alternative will ensure the company gets the most out of the systems they are using. One of worst things upper management can do is to purchase one-size-fits-all software that may not have the capacity to adapt to your organization’s business processes.
When soliciting the help of a software developer or firm, having the right information on hand to steer them in the right direction is key. Every process and software solution you implement should be aligned with your business objectives to properly reach your business goals.
What is the software development process?
From the very beginning, the software development team should understand the nature of your business, what you are trying to accomplish and where the business is headed. They will take you through a series of questions to get this information. You should be prepared for the following:
What business goal or objective are you hoping the software will support?
You can’t go far if your business model isn’t tied to a goal or objective. That’s the first step in ensuring you get what you need from a software solution.
Who will be the primary users of the software, and what do they need to do their job?
This is key. The software development team should be able to speak with these stakeholders and walk through what they do on a day-to-day basis. The users of the software should be the driving force in how the customized solution is developed, monitored and maintained. Bringing stakeholders in early and often ensures project success.
What current internal processes are you hoping the software will support and What new processes will be introduced by the software?
You should have a blueprint of how your organization works, what tasks need to be automated, and how they should work to streamline current processes while increasing efficiency and productivity. The goal of most implementations is to improve efficiency of the company and thus improve profits. Therefore, some old processes that developed over time, such as manual paper processes, will need to be radically changed to take advantage of the new capabilities that a web-based software solution will allow. This all needs to be documented and this is another reason to bring in stakeholders early. You want them to buy into the system early and be a part of the solution, so they don’t feel that this new system is being rammed down their throat at the last minute.
What are the constraints in regarding requirements, budget and priorities?
Prior to starting a software development effort, you need to define not only the requirements but also the budget expectations. Custom software development can be very expensive, so priorities must be set early on to prevent the project from getting out of control due to scope creep.
Will this software be used for business analysis, and does it need to go beyond data entry, storage, and collaboration to include automation and analysis components?
Every business should have some form of analytics integrated into their systems. Brand personas are very real, no matter what industry you are in. Knowing who your customers are, what they want, what they need, and how you can specifically target those needs all come from data.
Security is also a huge aspect of having an air-tight custom software model. Being able to track users and identify potential breaches is very important. When the system is being developed, every process should be properly documented to ensure everyone is on the same page. There are many instances where software was used, and the person left the company, only to have the company be vulnerable to attacks because no protocols were in place to cover these types of issues.
Your software developer should be able to provide a customized solution that will work throughout the organization once they have the right information. Every business model should have expectations on how their processes and systems should work to touch every area of the organization. Focusing on just the front-end solution will not work. Back-end solutions must also be front and center in order to maximize the investment and position the software for longevity.
When developing business objectives, integrating a software platform and your needs from the very beginning will produce positive results for the organization now and in the future.
About the Author
Lance Keene, the founder of Keene Systems,
has 40 years’ experience in custom software development.
Over the course of his career he and his team have written software for companies such as Mack Trucks,
Bayer, Calvin Klein, Hershey, IBM, Kimberly Clark, Lindt, Sara Lee, Pfizer, BAE, L'oreal, Ocean Spray, Dana Farber, Tootsie Rolls, Guiness, Texas Instruments, and CVS.
(see full client list)
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