Many people are disappointed, upset, or downright distraught, when a software or technology project costs more than they had anticipated, or been led to believe. Occasionally, rather than being the saviour of the business the project becomes the death knell – this is especially true for smaller businesses which have often pushed out the boat for the solution, which they have been told is essential for the business. And for family businesses, where the failure has the additional factor caused by the personal relationships involved, it can be much worse.
However, many of these projects do deliver huge benefits to the organisation. So I thought that I would outline the components of any project so you understand what is involved and your project can be one of the success stories.
If you are looking at more than one solution, it is essential that you compare apples with apples. One way of doing this is to draw up a matrix of key considerations and get each vendor to give you the appropriate information. Any vendor that will not assist with this exercise may be hiding something. In the rest of this article, I will give you some pointers to assist with this comparison.
Software projects are rarely simple, and if you are to get full value you will need someone who has significant relevant experience to help you. If you have such a person within your organisation, then you are lucky, but if you choose to use this person, consider whether they can adequately do this job and their ‘normal’ job. If not, something will have to give, and you do not want it to be your software project.
It is usually better to work with a partner who has done many similar projects – they will bring insight from their previous experience to your project and should work with you to meld their experience to your knowledge of your business. They also should be able to guide you to establish which changes are really necessary. Making a new solution exactly match your current processes is rarely a good idea and many projects become much more time-consuming and costly when the client insists that this sort of change is done. Most modern solutions have best practice built into them, so if you are making radical changes, you want to question why this necessary. An external expert will also be able to assist with deciding which technique is the best way to make a specific change, considering both the current need and any impact on the project in the future.
As well as experience, you will also want to be sure that you feel comfortable working with your selected partner.
Cloud is a buzzword but all it really means is that the software is running on a server that is not located in your location. In reality ‘cloud’ has been around for as long as businesses have used computers.
However there are some key questions to ask of any potential cloud provider:
Many of the cloud providers are offering free or cheap solutions. If the solution offered is cheap there is probably a reason for it – it is impossible to provide high quality support for $5 a month. So what are you really getting?
But if you choose on-premise you then have to provide and manage the hardware infrastructure yourself. Do you have the ability and the capacity to do that?
Many people choose on-premise because they feel that the data will be more secure. But is a server tucked away in a back room actually more secure than one located in a data centre?Remember that the majority or security breaches are caused by careless (or unknowing) insiders rather than hackers.
Many technologies are Open Source. Open Source means that the core code-which is the technology base - is available for you to edit or change. This may sound attractive at first but it does raise some questions.
Modern software can be changed in a few ways:
Both of the above can be done for you or can be purchased, eg Word Press themes.
To compare pricing for technology projects in a way that does compare apples with apples, there are five aspects of the pricing that you should consider. These are:
For any given project, some of these may be $0, but the questions still need to be asked.
A realistic cost estimate can only be given once a scoping of your particular situation and requirements is completed. So be wary of suppliers who will give a price without doing this detailed scoping.
Costs for projects of this nature can be given either as a time and material hourly rate or a price for specific items of functionality. Often the time and material rates sounds attractive, but can then become much greater as the time required can blow out.
This article does not give answers, but I hope that I have highlighted the questions and considerations that you need to work through as you decide how to proceed with the technology projects that will give your family business the edge over your competition.
Opsis is an expert Microsoft Dynamics 365 consulting company. Our focus is your Microsoft Dynamics 365 success - not licence sales or billable hours. As Principal Consultant, Gill oversees all business operations and strategic planning and execution, yet she still believes in offering personal attention to each and every client, so as to understand their needs and offer tailored solutions. We are based in Sydney, with clients in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane and across Australia. We offer Microsoft Dynamics 365 strategy, Microsoft Dynamics 365 scoping, Microsoft Dynamics 365 implementation, Microsoft Dynamics 365 technical support, Microsoft Dynamics 365 advice and guidance, Microsoft Dynamics 365 training and mentoring.