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Use it or lose it

by Davin Wilfrid

March 24, 2011

by Davin Wilfrid, insiderRESEARCH

I'm at the combined SAPinsider event for logistics, supply chain, and CRM in Orlando this week. One of the recurring themes in talking with customers and consultants is the continuing need to scrub the IT landscape of unused software and functionality.

This article by Tom Wailgum gives you a good background on the "shelfware" issue. It’s not a new issue, but I've got two anecdotes to share that showcase some of the difficulties customers and consultants alike are experiencing.

The first was a chat I had with a large manufacturing company based in Texas. The company purchased SAP CRM licenses and planned to implement CRM as soon as its SAP ERP implementation was up and running. That was six years ago. In the meantime, the company's SAP CRM software sat in a cupboard somewhere gathering dust.

The second story comes from a consultant who works primarily with the automotive industry. The recession forced many of his clients to focus their efforts on boosting efficiency rather than implementing new systems, so his consulting firm began focusing on IT auditing services. He found one instance where a client was running a relatively small software solution on a rack of expensive high-performance Linux servers. After migrating the solution to a more affordable hardware system, the client company realized it was using the software too infrequently to justify the continued expense.

These issues are very different, yet both highlight the need for effective application management that is tied into your company's strategy. Having detailed project plans or roadmaps isn't enough. Plans and roadmaps have to be coordinated into a comprehensive program that is reviewed frequently to ensure that your company isn’t being bogged down by shelfware.

On his Pixelbase blog, consultant Michael Koch highlights another key issue: User training. Too often customers don’t fully understand all the functionality included in the solution they’ve just purchased:

"Consulting partners, which assisted in the go-live, tried their best to communicate the new aspects and hoped for additional business, but on the customer side there was simply not enough will to set aside time to explore new parts of their system. It’s the “so what does the new SAP release give us?” scenario. More than often, green field implementations and upgrades are performed under great pressure, so looking into new features becomes a “phase 2″ task, if that."

Regardless of the root cause, the directive is clear – use it or lose it.

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