It’s New Year: Is it time to re-evaluate your business software?
We’ve put together a handy guide to help you re-evaluate your business software for the coming year.
• Has your business undergone any kind of change in the last few years?
• Have you expanded or branched out into new markets?
• Do all of your applications still ‘do the job’ as well as they should?
• Are your applications keeping up with your business’ demands and future objectives?
• Is your business software still in-tune with your actual business?
• Is the performance of your business software becoming an issue?
• Are you struggling to ensure that your employees use business applications correctly?
Maybe it’s time to evaluate this for 2015.
Here are a few things to consider:
It is important that your software supports the way your company works. Your business applications should be effective without you having to work-around them, in order to adhere to your business-process, or altering your way-of-working to fit the software.
Your staff should be satisfied with the software and not feel it is burdensome or time-consuming, otherwise the application will not be used properly.
Perhaps there is something ‘missing’ that requires a new feature or module, to really achieve the full extent of what the software was implemented for.
Alternatively, there may be too many features, screens or fields, blurring the primary purpose of the process the application is meant to support. Simplicity is paramount, when you need to convince a group of people to use a system properly.
Does the software perform well enough or are your staff exhibiting characteristics similar to the ‘bufferface’ coined by the current EE commercials?
Nothing will put off users faster than a poorly performing system.
Ideally, the output from your systems should automatically feed into the applications that support the next stage of the process.
For instance your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) application should integrate with Sales Order Processing (SOP) system, which should then integrate with your Sage accounts or Oracle Financials system. Or your SAP/Oracle/IFS ERP system should integrate with your Warehouse/Delivery Management tools.
Otherwise the systems are not working to their full potential, giving an overall feeling of fragmentation.
Your foremost goal should be to ensure that your workforce use the business applications provided to them diligently, otherwise you could be failing to capture vital information.
If any of the above considerations are not quite right then a valuable resource is being wasted and your business could suffer as a result.
If you have identified any of the above problems, then there are several options open to you, to remedy any issues.
It could be that any performance issues are simply down to the hardware the application is installed on, but is it the processing power or the memory, or is it in fact the disk storage that is causing the issue?
Perhaps it is a networking issue or maybe it is poorly performing SQL-code in the actual application.
There is no point in buying a new server if the application will still perform badly after migrating it onto the new hardware.
So before you can even attempt to tune your system, you need to know where the bottleneck is.
Solarwinds Database Performance Analyser (DPA) is an ideal starting point for this and at Explorer we can provide a free, no-obligation trial for your organisation.
If the issue is hardware then Explorer can take you through you infrastructure options, right the way from standalone servers to commodity server consolidation, all the way to entry-level engineered systems and beyond.
If the problem is specifically to do with storage then Explorer can introduce you to a low-cost storage solution with high-end performance.
If the concern is the application code itself or its interaction with the database, then Explorer’s team of developers and DBAs can take you through your application tuning and database tuning options.
It may be time to re-write the application, giving you the chance to tailor the system exactly to your business’ needs.
In this case Explorer’s team of developers can work with you all the way from requirements gathering to business analysis/logic, project management, application-build, to testing and to ongoing development and systems support.
You can use any combination of Explorer’s services, to suit your own resources and tasks, as you see fit, or you can ask Explorer to take the entire project on.
Simply improving on the system that you already have could be the answer.
It is possible that you may simply need to improve on the reporting capability of your application or maybe another feature or module could solve some major shortfalls.
Finally, the answer could be simply to harmonise your applications, so they work together better.
It could be that anything from small changes to your current business applications to a rapid application development (RAD) project, could vastly improve user experience, departmental efficiency and ultimately organisational performance.
On the face of it, the fitness of your peripheral or ‘edge’ applications may not seem to be the most pressing issue to deal with.
It’s not the exciting new website, or the big ERP system implementation, but if you want some inspiration to tackle your ‘back-end’ systems consider the advice of Brent Hoberman of lastminute.com who (in an interview with BBC Radio 4 in 2011)* and from his own bitter experience, advised businesses not to forget their ‘un-sexy’ non-core systems.
To explore any of your options in 2015, please get in touch with Explorer, to see how we can help.
*The Bottom Line, broadcast on BBC Radio 4, BBC World Service and BBC News Channel – 22 September 2011.
Neil has fulfilled a number of customer-facing roles in the technology industry, from Account Management to Solution Management. He has many years of experience in advising on bespoke solutions, having even been responsible for implementing and configuring timesheet, CRM and project management software in his time. At Explorer, Neil is very focussed on presenting the commercial benefits of the solutions that our development team can provide, with particular emphasis on the Oracle Application Express (APEX) platform.