Managing Costs and Customization of Colaboration Technologies
By Ann Augustine, About.com Guide
Strategic decisions for any organization in today’s times recognize the need to support greater collaboration among all areas of the business–to innovate better and faster and stay connected.
To drive the desirable usage of collaboration software technologies, including mobile apps, your choices of software may hinge on costs and customization factors. The fact is most every piece of software requires training to work seamlessly for your organization, as you can see further on. The following checklist of planning tools and benefits can help you achieve success to better manage for costs and customization in your software project.
Organize a Cross-Functional Planning Team
Why: Do not take a shortcut and try to implement software you expect others to use without input from a cross-functional planning team. People can opt out, due to time or resource constraints, but above all, this will only occur when they trust a core planning team is in place.
Benefits: If you’ve never heard the term, citizen developer, consider the business savvy people in your organization who understand your business processes. Inviting cross-functional citizen developers to participate on a planning team will ensure all the needs across your organization are included.
Use a Technology Road Map
Why: A technology roadmap is simply a process flow that identifies each business unit inputs and outputs, along with conditions that must be fulfilled to reach your organization’s desired goals. Product managers use roadmaps or blueprints so you can also map your technology strategies within your enterprise architecture in phases, much like drawings and plans are done for a new facility or computer network.
Benefits: To map your collaboration technologies, you have to identify business requirements, the information sources (described further on), and technologies that will be needed. Use your planning team to collect information for your road map.
Prepare a Governance Plan
Why: IT governance best practices teach us that planning in advance for new software will help everybody understand why and how we intend to use the software.
Benefits: The key elements of a governance plan will include obtaining executive sponsorship and documenting your high level goals and objectives. You can allow your governance plan to include as much detail as your organization requires, such as training plans, communication plans for rollout and user engagement, as well as metrics to measure software usage.
Evaluate Existing and Future Information Strategies
Why: This scenario is typical in growing companies today. Your contract administration department requires a better workflow process with sales and account management to perform due diligence and faster response on proposals and contracts. Emailing files back and forth causes extensive rework and inadequate version control.
Benefits: Gene Leganza, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research says in CIO, “Businesses are realizing that there are valuable opportunities in making the best use of new information sources.” Leganza also says getting the right information to the right people is essential. Consider an example when your customer’s new device is inoperable and there are no answers in your customer support community to solve the problem, which will affect customer satisfaction.
Plan for Set Up and Training Costs
Why: John Gabrick, CEO of MindMatters, an innovation management software company, explains: “It’s been estimated that organizations should expect to spend about 10-20% of the total cost of the system documenting the functional requirements of a system before snapping the first piece into place. Most rarely do this believing that their process “is simple”, when in reality, it isn’t.”
Benefits: Set up and regular training assistance can help overcome fears for users unfamiliar with the software. Furthermore, resistance to software is almost an innate response, says Gabrick. Training also needs to involve management, (see review of Gabrick’s book Step By Step Innovation) explaining why the organization is implementing the software, and getting users on board to participate.
Utilize In-House Staff or Hire Professional Services
Why: Business unit and IT members together can decide whether the skills required to rollout the software are readily available or you need to hire outside professional services. As Gabrick says, having expertise from someone who has done it before will guarantee that you will build a system that incorporates the latest best practices, increases participation, and minimizes total cost.
Benefits: At a minimum, skill areas will include software administration, beta testing, customer support, training, and corporate communications. Your governance plan can spell out these skill sets and whether resources are readily available in your organization. Hiring professional services, offered through the software vendors or by outside consultants as necessary, can be built into your scope of work.
For more information contact:MindMatters Technologies, Inc.
308 East Main Street
Carnegie, PA 15106
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