Through my experience I have seen many organizations invest significant amounts of capital and time implementing a new business application/process, but they often overlook the resources that will be needed to effectively manage and maintain the solution. When systems do not have the proper business and technology ownership/support, you will often see that the technology will not be optimized, will become unusable, and ultimately will be discontinued by the organization (aka, “application graveyard”), therefore, essentially wasting the initial investment. To avoid the “application graveyard,” try utilizing some of the tips below to create the proper support models for your business applications.
Define roles & responsibilities for your business systems that include a Responsibility Matrix (RACI- Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed). When creating a RACI it is recommended to identify the key activities for the business and IT support team that will be required to ensure the success and support of the solution. The RACI may include key activities such as training, user communication, bug fixes, new development, testing, escalation process, etc.
Ensure that each business system has a defined business owner and that IT is not the sole driver/owner of the business system. The business owner will own the direction of the business system/process and ensure that the business support requests (new requirements, break fix items) are being properly prioritized and executed. If IT is the primary owner of a business system/process you will often see misalignment between the technical solution being delivered and the benefits that the business is striving to obtain from that particular application/process.
Invest and establish the proper technical support (outsourced, managed service or on-premise) for the business system/process. If you don’t invest in obtaining resources that have the knowledge and the technical capabilities to support the business application/process, you will quickly see that solution will not be accepted by the organization and will quickly dissolve. Technical support resources can work with the business owner to support the following key activities.
- Assist with organizing and driving technical improvements to the business application/process. Note: If you have the proper IT resources supporting a system, the organization can ultimately reduce the longer term costs of the solution by avoiding unnecessary consulting or external resource investments
- Defining user Service Level Agreements (SLAs) to set expectations and ensure that service is delivered efficiently and effectively as deemed by the business owner/users.
- Regularly communicate with users to gather feedback/new requirements and to keep them informed of any issues, changes, or updates to the system/process
- Develop knowledge/document management process including, but not limited to, system documentation (requirements, design, procedures), user knowledge base, and system roadmaps/strategy
Creating effective relationships between IT and system business owners will help to ensure that your organization is maximizing your software investments and will also help to ensure that Information Technology is aligned with the strategy/direction of the business. These relationships will also ensure that your IT organization is a true partner to moving the business forward.
In closing, having the proper IT support and business ownership for your organization’s systems will go a long way in helping to ensure that your technical investments are not squandered, and your applications will thrive and stay out of the “application graveyard”.
If you need assistance/guidance in improving your business application(s) support models, please reach out to me to learn how I may be of assistance.