February 21st, 2017
In our last blog, we discussed the basics of change management. We covered why it’s important and what should be included in the process.
For this blog, let’s go one step further and look at how to create a change management plan that has maximum positive impact for all involved.
This is the most important question people will ask when faced with any type of change: What’s in it for me? People want to understand what they can expect and how it impacts them.
If you want to create buy-in and engagement, be prepared to answer this question. Often with software or other IT implementations, people are worried about technology replacing them or some of their job functions.
Being aware of this and ready to answer their questions can help alleviate concerns and focus stakeholders on the project goals.
In the case of software or other IT implementations, explain to team members how the change will directly benefit them by increasing their efficiency or freeing them up to do other functions that require people and not systems.
Be sure to point out other added benefits, including those to the customer and end user.
Get the right people to the table
In the initial planning stages, it’s important to get the stakeholders to the table to discuss the project. This must include those doing the job most directly impacted by the change, as well the end user, just to name a few.
Getting essential information early on means greater visibility on potential roadblocks and more people to problem-solve for solutions.
Also, engaging people in the process and decision-making gives them a sense of ownership, which creates more buy-in as the project rolls out.
Create a system everyone understands
All organizations have different ways of communicating, and many departments within those organizations have their own specific jargon.
When mapping out your change management strategy, create a clear system for communicating project status and the challenges that will inevitably come up.
This could be as simple as using a green, yellow, and red light system.
During meetings, various groups involved in the implementation of the new project or system can use this to describe their current status.
For example, let’s say the marketing department is tasked with implementing a new social media strategy. During a status update meeting, the marketing representative announces that task is a red light, which means they are making no forward progress. The representative explains the reasons surrounding the issue. Then the rest of the group brainstorms and helps the marketing representative create a time-bound plan to move that task from red light to green light status.
That’s just one way you can handle inter-departmental communication during significant changes. There are many others that may be a better fit for your organization.
Whatever strategies your organization uses for change management, remember, having a plan is essential. Help connect your stakeholders to the mission of the project by answering WIIFM, getting the right people to the table, and creating a simple system to communicate.
Keep people informed and celebrate the wins along the way. Great change creates great opportunity.
February 7th, 2017
In a rapidly advancing business climate, organizational agility is key. Market disrupters appear at a breakneck speed and leave companies struggling to keep up.
Motivational speaker Tony Robbins says, “Change is inevitable. Progress is optional.” In the realm of change management, truer words have never been spoken.
So, what is change management and how can it impact your business?
Planning the process
Change management is simply a process put in place to ensure business functions and relationships are maintained while implementing new procedures or systems.
It’s planning a way to manage change, so it doesn’t manage you.
For example, if your organization is implementing a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, there will likely be effects felt across the entire business. From the marketing department to sales to customer service, many people need visibility on planning the implementation, carrying out the implementation, and then providing appropriate feedback to make necessary adjustments.
A change management process creates a roadmap to make sure these things happen at the right time.
One of the biggest benefits of a change management strategy is creating appropriate expectations for all stakeholders. The communication surrounding expectations is crucial.
When implementing new systems or processes, everyone should understand what will and will not happen. Nothing derails an implementation plan faster than over-promising and then under-delivering results. The implications on morale and future support of new projects can be massive.
To maintain buy-in, everyone impacted by the new project or process needs to be included in preliminary discussions. Time should be spent asking stakeholders about their needs, expectations, and concerns.
After the feedback is gathered, time should be spent with the same team reviewing the feedback and outlining the implementation. Emphasis should be placed on appropriate expectations including timelines, deliverables, and communication plans.
During implementation of new projects or systems, one common misstep is failure to plan. There should be clear guidelines on the goals of the project, who owns what pieces of implementation, and how everyone can ensure effective communication.
Assuming these things will happen organically will derail the project. Without clear guidelines, inefficiencies become the norm as scope creep takes over. Teams are then left feeling confused and frustrated.
All of this can be avoided with some basic change management planning.
Change management may sound complicated, but the core principles are not. Remember, it’s simply casting a vision for where you want to go, establishing goals to achieve the vision, and mapping out how the team will get there.
When done well, the process will increase your organization’s agility, threshold to deal with market disruptions, and ability to grow relationships during change. In today’s business, this is the winning combination that sets organizations ahead of their competitors.
January 17th, 2017
In our last article, we discussed common issues you may encounter with your Oracle products, and how LSG Solutions is available to offer advice or resolving those issues. As an extension of that blog, let’s take a few minutes to discuss some tricks of the trade in regards to Oracle support.
Updates and upgrades
Updates and upgrades are included in your annual support package from Oracle. We encourage our clients to take advantage of them.
Often, these offer important value for clients in terms of minimizing downtime for backups and other maintenance tasks.
An example of this is Oracle Enterprise. Built into the licensing agreement, this gives you the option of having a standby database take over in the event you need it.
You are already paying for these services. We can help you leverage your resources to make the most out of your product.
Our Gold-level partnership with Oracle ensures our clients have the most-up-to date and actionable information on their Oracle products.
As a recognized Gold-level partner, this means:
- We have skills and expertise that set us apart from our competitors.
- We are authorized to sell all Oracle products as well as SaaS solutions.
- We receive educational opportunities directly from Oracle, so our team is current on all new Oracle technology.
Combining this expertise with our client relationships allows us to offer unique options and solutions tailored to our client’s needs. Since we implement what we sell, we know the realities of what works and what doesn’t. This allows us to give our clients advice balancing their present and future needs (and budget).
We can also help you balance strategy and technology. We know finding the right technology fit to match your budget is essential for your business.
Some of our other services include:
- Reviewing annual licensing renewals
- CSI consolidation
- Adding database options
- Scaling up servers with additional processors and licensing
- Oracle E-Business Suite and options
- Failover, standby and redundancy options
For more information on tips regarding your Oracle product, please contact us. We would be happy to answer any questions or offer advice.
January 3rd, 2017
In the world of Oracle licensing agreements, new technology, and constantly updated versions, confusion reigns supreme. Often business owners find themselves reviewing renewals with little understanding of the jargon within the contract.
This is not because of any deficit on the part of the owner. Oracle lingo is complicated, even to those who “eat, sleep and breathe it.”
Here’s are some of the issues we find that Oracle customers often run into.
I don’t understand my licensing agreement, which worries me.
First, you are not alone. We often get calls from folks with the same concern. Since we work with Oracle applications every day, we are a good resource to help walk you through your licensing agreement.
We also find clients have questions about renewals and migrations. We can help answer those questions and develop a strategy to migrate from legacy Oracle technology to newer Oracle technology.
I have to go with a big-name reseller to get accurate answers, right?
Companies, agencies, and municipalities are short on resources. Invariably, they don’t have time to build relationships with resellers. This leads to going with what’s perceived as the safe bet; straight to the product owner. In this case, it is Oracle or one of the big national resellers.
However, these large resellers often have high sales turnover issues. LSG Solutions offers a different option. We don’t have sales quotas, therefore there are no conflicts in the sales process. Sales commissions are the same regardless of product.
Along with that, we typically implement what we sell, allowing checks and balances regarding product and functionality. We see first-hand the needs of your organization, and can recommend product and strategy built to fit your need; no more, no less.
What if I’m out of compliance with licensing?
First, we aren’t the police for Oracle licensing. We will certainly advise you when we discover compliance issues, but we will not come in, perform an audit, and report it to Oracle.
We are here to serve our clients. We understand that with the roll-out of new versions, it’s easy to be confused about licensing requirements. That’s where we can be a valued resource providing the most up-to-date information.
It’s important to note that we are not incentivized as a partner on support issues. We do it because we believe it’s the right thing for our clients. Our goal is to offer personalized service to meet your organizational needs.
If you would like to discuss these or any other questions regarding Oracle products, please let us know. We never charge to give advice. We believe this is how we build sustainable relationships with our clients, and become a trusted business partner.
December 20th, 2016
LSG Solutions is proud of our work on the Oklahoma Sex & Violent Offender Registry. Over the years, there have been many changes made and new features offered in hopes of providing more information to the public.
As our work on this system continues, we are entering the next phase of development. Coming in the spring of 2017, the registry will offer new features, including a mobile interface.
Currently, the site features the same image on desktops and mobile devices. This forces mobile users to zoom in multiple times for readability.
In an effort to add mobile responsiveness to the site, here are new features we are working on:
- Community alerts: This will allow users to sign up to receive mobile alerts when a sex offender moves into a selected geographical area.
- Area scanning: You can scan the area you are in to see registered offenders in up to a five-mile radius.
- Greater functionality: The mobile interface will allow for increased functionality, which should lead to a better experience for the user.
We know it is essential to keep the sex offender registry updated to interface with current technology. We feel confident that expanding the site in this way will allow more people to access the information they need.
This build-out will most likely be launched to the public in phases. Our hope is that with the mobile interface, we will see an increase in items like signups for the community alerts. We also anticipate that traffic to the Oklahoma Sex & Violent Offender Registry website will increase.
At LSG Solutions we are committed to serving our customers and our community. Our continued work on the sex offender registry is an example of that commitment. We look forward to providing this information and making it accessible to all Oklahomans.
November 1st, 2016
When you’re in a hurry, it’s easy look past the test phase of implementing new software. However, testing is essential to avoid future problems.
When software rolls out with bugs, it can become a huge morale problem, involving the extension of deadlines and increased cost. Here are some common challenges in software testing, and ways that you can overcome them.
Just because someone possesses technical skills doesn’t mean they are a good fit for testing software. The trick here is to find people who understand the business needs and how the software should promote them.
Failure to plan ahead
Too often, test plans are put together as the project is winding down or not at all. A test plan should have an appropriate structure with a checklist of items to be tested in various environments and conditions.
A test plan developed at the beginning of a project can build in check points to catch issues before they become major challenges. A thorough plan can also help reign in the scope creep that inevitably happens.
Lack of automated testing
Automated testing allows you to run scenarios over and over, which becomes even more important as you increase functionality. Since software often operates in a changing environment, it’s important to set automated testing to catch bugs before they become a problem.
Inability to test the unknown
Despite your team’s best efforts, you can never plan for every scenario. It’s essential that you are working closely with project managers and appropriate stakeholders to keep them informed on project developments.
This relationship can prove educational for the business stakeholders, giving them a more holistic perspective to software development and implementation.
Whatever challenges you face in testing software, resources are available to help you overcome them. The team at LSG Solutions is always ready to answers your questions, or work with your business to chart a way forward.
October 18th, 2016
Chances are if you’ve worked in the software development world, you know the debates that rage regarding different development environments. Some developers wave the Java flag, while others hang on to .NET. At LSG Solutions, we believe customers should be comfortable with whatever development tool is being used.
LSG specializes in Java, .NET, and Oracle Application Express. We think that providing options allows us to meet the unique needs of our customers.
Past experience has shown us that while Java and .NET remain the heavy hitters in the industry, many of our clients simply don’t need their complexity.
Think of building a house. Some people want to build a custom home, with endless design options. The customization will allow them to have a truly unique house, but the trade-off is an extended build time. For others, having a quality home built with a quick turn-around time is the most important thing. Customization takes a back seat to efficiency.
These software development options offer the same type of scenario, making it ever more important to work with an organization who understands your unique business needs.
For companies needing something extremely complex, like a trading platform, the flexible customization of Java or .NET is essential. However, a business needing a simple platform developed quickly will find that Oracle Application Express is a better fit.
Over the years, we’ve found that businesses usually make their software development decisions based on the existing environment they have in place. If, for example, a past developer used Java, that customer will naturally gravitate to Java.
By partnering with LSG Solutions, we can help you understand which available options may be best for your needs. Since we specialize in Java, .NET, and Oracle Application Express, we have the flexibility and expertise to provide a custom solution for you.
You won’t get caught in the crossfire of developers championing their own favorite platform. By working with us to figure out what best suits your needs, you come out the winner every time.
Questions? Reach out to us today to discuss your options, and find out how we can help your business move forward.
October 4th, 2016
Small and medium businesses have unique database needs. In the past, business owners were priced out of robust appliance applications. But a new option from Oracle is changing that.
This summer, Oracle unveiled a new database appliance specifically for small businesses; the Oracle Database Appliance X6. This is a new version of still-current appliance, the X4 and X5.
The X6 still offers the same ease of set up as Oracle’s other versions. This hardware line is set up as a high availability system, with loads of redundancy. As a 2-server-in-1 option, it allows for a tremendous reduction in downtime. The server is also certified with Standard Edition 2.
Here are a few features that differentiate X6 from the previous versions.
Affordability: The price of X4 and X5 priced out many small and medium businesses. Business owners had to contend with fulfilling a database need in small, affordable increments by paying someone for their time, versus a relatively high cost of buying the X4 or X5 ODA.
Small business savvy: The X6 is specialized for small business. If you’re an SMB and need to run an around-the-clock database system, this is a good choice. It’s meant for people who need to run one database in production on site.
Storage: Buyers should take note that because it’s scaled for small business, X6 has limited storage. This appliance application is geared for organizations whose storage needs won’t grow past 10 terabytes.
Oracle X6 is available in two sizes: 2S (small) and 2M (medium):
|Oracle Database Appliance X6-2S||Oracle Database Appliance X6-2M|
|Size||One rack unit server||One rack unit server|
|Processor||One 10-core Intel Xeon E5-2630 v4||Two 10-core Intel Xeon E5-2630 v4|
|Memory||128 GB expandable to 384 GB||256 GB expandable to 768 GB|
|Networking||2x 10GbE SFP+ (fiber) and 2x 10GBase-T (copper) ports||2x 10GbE SFP+ (fiber) and 4x 10GBase-T (copper) ports|
|Storage||6.4 TB high performance NVMe flash storage||6.4 TB high performance NVMe flash storage|
|Storage Management||Oracle Auto Storage Management (ASM)||Oracle Auto Storage Management (ASM)|
|Database||SE2 or EE||SE2 or EE|
Oracle Database Appliance X6 offers database option accessibility to the small business market like never before. Not sure if this is a good fit for your business? Contact us today, and we will review options with you.
September 20th, 2016
Platform as a Service (PaaS) is one of the latest in a line of cloud-based services that make it easier for businesses to operate without having to handle the upkeep of a network.
PaaS is a set of tools that allow developers to build applications without having to worry about the upkeep of owning infrastructure.
Here’s an example of how we used PaaS to give a local company a robust application without requiring them to house (or pay for!) a single server.
A local example of the usefulness of PaaS
BC Clark came to LSG Solutions searching for a way to develop an application for their “Pray for Rain” promotion. While it’s a big name in Oklahoma, BC Clark isn’t a very large company and couldn’t justify the time, expense and resources required to build an in-house infrastructure and hire a developer to maintain it and develop the application.
This was at a time when PaaS wasn’t widely used. We found a hosting company that allowed us to make custom requests for resources to build the infrastructure, which remained hosted off-site and required no effort on the customer’s part. Throughout the development and launch of the application, BC Clark didn’t buy a single server or a single piece of other hardware related to the program.
If it’s so good, why haven’t most people heard about PaaS?
As has often been the case in Oklahoma, PaaS hasn’t caught on as quickly locally as it has elsewhere in the country. In fact, a large percentage of the population likely has not heard of this or has heard of it but doesn’t know what it is.
Nevertheless, we foresee a time when all application development will be done on a PaaS basis, because it’s simply the most efficient way to do so for both the companies and the developers.
September 6th, 2016
Many developers face the challenge of coding and deploying an application while also having to build and maintain the infrastructure and platform required to do so. PaaS lightens this load by making the provider responsible for the platform. That allows developers to focus on developing.
What is PaaS?
Think of PaaS as a tool set. Imagine that you’re a carpenter, and you own your own set of tools. Not only do you have to spend time performing the carpentry, but you also have to also buy, store, fix, and replace the tools and the shop where you work. In this case, PaaS functions like a provider who does all of those tool-related functions for you. You can focus on the carpentry itself.
In the case of cloud computing, a PaaS provider is responsible for providing and maintaining:
- Tangible assets such as servers, networks, storage and operating system
- Middleware such as Java or .NET runtime and integration
- The database
PaaS takes these responsibilities off of the developers’ shoulders so that they can focus on what they do best-developing applications.
Why use PaaS?
All of the benefits of PaaS center on its ability to improve efficiency, and include:
- Reducing developer time spent on maintenance
- Faster product development
- Improved culture of innovation for developers
- Improved overall network security
PaaS gives developers more time to be productive, leading to a host of workflow improvements.
The relationship between IaaS, PaaS and SaaS
All three of these services are built on top of one another to provide a comprehensive cloud solution. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a service in which the provider houses and maintains the tangible assets like the servers and networks themselves. PaaS is a toolset that allows developers to develop software in the cloud, quickly and efficiently. SaaS are the software applications themselves that exist in the cloud.
Together, these three services allow all of the hardware and software associated with a business’s network to be hosted and maintained off-site, in the cloud.
One local company’s use of PaaS
BC Clark wanted to develop an application to allow customers to register for their “Pray for Rain” promotion. As a small company, BC Clark couldn’t justify the cost of building an infrastructure and the resources required for this development in-house. Instead, they purchased IaaS and PaaS with LSG Solutions, where this application was developed, deployed and housed.
Learn more about PaaS
If you think that PaaS would work well for your particular situation and would like to get more information based on your specific needs, we’d be happy to talk with you at (405) 285-2500.