July 25th, 2013
The decision about whether or not to add new staff can be stressful for business owners, especially when technology is involved. Faced with a business process problem, it's common for businesses to hire full-time developers to build a custom solution.
It's equally common for these businesses to wind up with more problems than they started with.
Does a solution already exist?
Business leaders often assume that an off-the-shelf solution does not exist for their specific business need. They believe their business is too niche, or that the specific need is too custom.
Although developing a custom application is sometimes appropriate, it's becoming increasingly rare to find a business problem that someone has not addressed with an off-the-shelf product. Some configuration work may be necessary to get an off-the-shelf application to fit a business' specific needs, but configuration costs are usually far less than the cost of implementing and supporting a custom solution.
Is there enough work to keep the developer engaged?
Many times, full-time developers are hired without the reality of full-time work. A specific project may require significant work up-front, but once implemented there may not be much for the developer to work on aside from maintenance.
Talented developers will rarely stick with a company that doesn't keep them engaged with interesting work. They'll want to move on and solve new problems, rather than performing routine maintenance work. When they leave, they take the deep knowledge of the solution they developed with them, making it difficult to support.
Using an off-the-shelf solution with configuration help from an outside vendor may be more appropriate in these situations.
Is building software a core competency?
Businesses with successfully-developed custom software projects tend to share a particular quality – software development is a core competency of their business. That may seem a bit obvious, but it is critically important.
Businesses lacking a development culture and framework are usually doomed to development failure. They implement technology ad-hoc, hiring developers who wind up not getting a stable reporting structure and the internal support they need to succeed. Purchasing an off-the-shelf solution is almost always a better option for these companies.
A perfect example
A client recently approached our sister company, LSG Staffing, about hiring a full-time developer to build an aperational dashboard for their business. They wanted someone to model KPIs, assemble the dashboards, and build realtime, proactive monitoring.
As the conversation developed we became more certain that hiring a full-time employee was the wrong solution for this business. An off-the-shelf solution existed that matched their needs, there wasn't enough work to justify and employee in the long-term, and software development was not one of their core competencies.
Instead, we presented them with the Multipeers product and helped them with configuring it for their environment. Using Multipeers, we were able to build all the necessary dashboards, providing management with the visibility and accountability they required. Implementing Multipeers removed the need to hire a developer and is actually freeing up other staff who had been doing spreadsheet work to mimic the functionality Multipeers provided.
July 11th, 2013
Your business is growing, but you feel like you're being held back by poor support from your technology vendors. You've had support tickets sitting in queue for months and your account rep won't call you back. Oddly enough, you still get their bills and advertisements for additional services.
It's a frustrating situation that we see all too often – big name vendors ignoring their smaller customers after promising to help them grow. Luckily, we're able to help.
Better service, closer to home
After spending five years feeling ignored and frustrated with Oracle's On Demand hosting solution, FreeFromIT, makers of Classroll.com, came to us looking for help.
Instead of selling FreeFromIT on the services we offered, we listened to what they needed – a more responsive, flexible solution to let them grow their Classroll.com product, and working together with local hosting provider, Perimeter Technology, we were able to provide a solution that was a custom-fit to those needs.
After migrating their application databases to the new platform we provided a support package that included our Remote Control database service so that we could support Classroom.com's 24/7 environment and ensure that it's users, K-12 teachers, students, and parents, experienced minimal downtime.
In addition to proactive support, we adapted our support services to handle the specific needs of FreeFromIT's business, providing additional support during critical workload peaks and close outs – the type of support they had been unable to get from Oracle's hosting team.
By providing clients like FreeFromIT with stable database environments and supporting those environments with Remote Control, we've seen their businesses grow more easily as a direct result.
We actively keep the databases healthy in addition to monitoring them and provide version/release upgrades and patching. The proactive support we provide prevents outages and enables our client's DBAs to focus on high-priority, revenue generating projects instead of housekeeping.
Some clients even use Remote Control as their senior-level coverage to help mentor junior staff, sharing knowledge that may lead to new development ideas and efficiency gains.
This all adds up to less staff, lower costs, and fewer roadblocks to growth.