Companies that grow quickly often need to re-evaluate if the software they’ve built fits into a greater overall scheme. Similar to a check-up with a physician, a technology audit with Icreon can reveal your areas of strength and will highlight gaps. It provides an overview of your IT that is objective, expert and useful. We bring an objective and expert
view of your IT and utilize our wealth of experience to help you use competitive differentiation, to optimize costs and to increase business efficiencies. During an IT Audit, we draw from a number of our industry and technology-specific experts to give you a 360-degree view of what your technology roadmap should look like and how you need to staff for it moving forward.
Are you looking for a way to improve the use of software within your organization? Or are you worried about the risks and uncertainties involved with investing in a custom software project? Many C-Level executives in Fortune 500 companies as well as emerging startups are dealing with these issues and more. And an IT audit may be the most effective way to prevent budget overruns and lackluster end products.
Many software projects suffer from budget overruns and delayed timelines that end up drastically impacting the value of the software. Over 65% of projects exceed budgets. More than 30% miss their deadlines. And a surprising 17% of companies receive less value from their software than originally predicted.
Some projects veer off course so badly that they can threaten the very existence of the company. One large retailer began a $1.4 billion effort to modernize its IT systems, only to see the project abandoned within a few years. As the company fell behind its competitors, it launched a $600 million project to update its supply chain management software. When that effort also went off rails, the retailer had to file for bankruptcy.
In order to avoid and minimize the potential risks and obstacles associated with software projects, IT audits must be a core aspect of the process. Prior to any development, coding, or design, IT audits can safeguard software projects from preexisting issues in the business as well as common pitfalls.
Many software projects fail because of issues related to poor planning, unclear requirements, project complexity, and poor organizational environment. Seemingly boilerplate aspects of a project are essential to executing an impactful software implementation. Even the largest corporations can fall victim to poor planning.
SAP was slapped with a lawsuit by the California State Controller over a payroll software implementation. The office stated that the project cost taxpayers a vast sum of money without providing any sign working correctly. Some of the issues that led to the failure could have been easily avoided with a thorough IT audit and organizational assessment.
Planning and coordination is critical to a project’s success because poor planning leads to unclear milestones, over-ambitious objectives, and insufficient resources. Understanding the pain points of an existing system and becoming knowledgeable of the way users currently interact with software, is crucial to building something that workers will use to drive efficiency.
IT teams need to have project objectives agreed upon by all stakeholders in order to ensure proper delegation of responsibilities. Following this systematic approach insulates your project from changes in senior management, stakeholder politics and an unstable organizational environment. Even the BBC has suffered from failed software projects. During a project involved with the Digital Media Initiative, a British broadcast engineering project from 2008, the BBC announced a major failure: "DMI did not work and we must ensure that there can be no repeat of a failure of this scale".
Organizations must put in place the right controls and measures to ensure delivery of major infrastructure projects. IT audits do this job quite effectively by providing timely reports on risk identification, assessment, and mitigation.
Many businesses are locked into legacy systems and applications and their system upgrades become a nightmare for project managers. IT audits help in delivering such projects by conducting thorough feasibility study, systems analysis, and post implementation review. IT professionals know that 80 percent of the costs and time spent on a software system, over its life cycle, occur after implementation.
Audit reviews result in significant cost savings by checking the system adequacy for the maintenance phase. The rapid pace of technology change makes an IT audit a critical component for risk management and corporate oversight. Small measures of prevention have the ability to identify and alleviate potentially devastating software stumbles. By utilizing audit reports, businesses can receive valuable insight that helps identify solutions to address current and future technology challenges.
IT audits by an independent and impartial firm are a cost effective solution for successfully delivering software projects. Make sure to inquire about audit frameworks, tools, and methodology employed by an audit firm in order to truly identify potential obstacles.
Development is evolving rapidly to meet the needs of the expanding high-quality software required for every business out there. Organizations are currently adopting multi-platform software for real-time systems, distributed computing infrastructures, business intelligence, and mobile applications.
But to implement an effective software development strategy certain trends need to be considered and implemented. Trends such as HTML5 web applications, mobile apps and websites, app stores, and cloud applications are going to be central to the future of business technology.
According to Gartner, spending on business software is expected to grow 6.8% to $320 billion in the USA this year, after rising 5.2% in 2013. In order to prosper, companies must invest a portion of their revenue on integrating HTML5, mobile apps and cloud applications in innovative new approaches to software.
HTML5 is the future when it comes to the world of web application development, whether it is for smartphones, tablets or desktops.
According to Ken Dulaney, Vice President of Gartner, "increasingly, enterprises are finding that they need to support multiple platforms, especially as the [Bring Your Own Device] BYOD trend gains momentum." HTML5 (despite a few issues to sort out) is one of the most effective tools for building multiplatform web applications.
With HTML5 tools, brands can build web and mobile apps with a single codebase. The flexibility of HTML5 apps to run on multiple device types is a major cost saver and strategic advantage for companies. These multi-platform apps can run on a variety of Operating Systems (OS) and device types.
Many organizations have already embraced cloud strategies and it has become the integral for apps, content and for syncing across devices. "Over the past 12 months, the cloud has become an easy choice for mainstream organizations, "says Andrew Brabban, Fujitsu UK's Director of Application Services.
With cloud applications, companies that would normally require enormous amounts of startup capital may only need a fraction of what was previously required to successfully develop, host or distribute software applications. According to Mr. Brabban, "there will be a focus for cloud services in three areas: management, integration and aggregation."
Organizations could also potentially use cloud applications for a variety of business processes. A majority of applications like generic word processing software, to customized Customer Relationship Management (CRM) web applications can be fully hosted in the cloud. The cloud would not only reduce the cost of hardware, but upgrade costs would also be minimized.
Google Apps is a great example of cloud based applications. Google’s offering has already gained substantial adoption from small businesses, boasting more than 50 million users, from over five million businesses.
More and more people are depending on their mobile devices like smartphones and tablets for everyday tasks. They are being used for ticketing systems on buses and trains, to purchasing products, watching videos, and keeping an eye on the stock market. The Cisco Visual Networking Index, projects that global mobile data traffic will increase 18-fold between 2011 and 2016.
Organizations are also using mobile apps to connect with clients and create tools for frontline or remote workers to access customer databases, fill in timesheets or manage inventory. For organizations to achieve all of their mobile objectives, they must have a thorough understanding and practical mobile strategy.
Successful enterprise technology companies such as Workday, which specializes in HR software, have strong mobile strategies that are central to their success. Consumer apps have heavily influenced the design and development approach to enterprise apps. Today’s business tools look drastically different than the clunky software systems that used to require an archaic CD-ROM to install.
Instead, enterprises are using custom app stores to distribute apps. There is also the option of creating web applications with HTML5 that can be accessed on tablets, smartphones and PCs with no need to download. These apps come with offline functionality, run directly in the cloud, and can be accessed instantly through a browser like Chrome or Firefox.
Mobile computing, cloud services and HTML5 usage will play a leading role in the software development strategy of almost every industry on the planet. Forrester accurately sums up the future needs for all tech or non-tech companies by stating that a great digital experience is no longer a nice-to-have; it’s a make-or-break point for businesses.
Are your departments stuck in silos? Do your workers waste time looking for the information they need to do their job? And does that specific job depend on timely completion of tasks by a multitude of moving parts?
If the answer to any of the above questions is 'yes', then your business may benefit greatly from Business Process Automation (BPA). BPA solutions involve implementing software applications that automate routine business tasks. For instance, a customer order system communicating with the warehouse system in order to automatically place orders for in-demand inventory.
Ideally this process leads to reduced cost expenditures and increased productivity. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are a core part of any strategy that aims for process automation. ERPs can best be summed up as a suite of integrated applications that allow for cross-departmental interaction. These sets of applications are used by companies to store, manage, and interpret data from various departmental activities.
Automating processes with ERP systems allow for a more seamless operational environment for separate departments that need to collaborate. So let's take a look at the core features that enable a company to become a highly efficient and automated business.
ERP systems integrate pertinent data and software systems for businesses so that employees, regardless of department, can access the information they need to do their jobs. It involves the formation of a central database that works as a repository for information originating in different parts of the business. Subsequent software interfaces are then created so that each department’s data can be accessed by another.
Different application modules support a particular business activity like the finance, HR, or warehouse and logistics department. Data originates at the module level, gets validated for consistency, and then gets stored in the database for wider access across departments. Once the data is stored, different users can access, combine, and manipulate data as needed.
Rainer Struppek, the head of Group Accounting at engineering firm GEA Group, said that their ERP setup provided "a data repository to create financial reports with standardized, transparent processes." He also detailed how well "the solution integrated into the existing software landscape." Ideally, an ERP system will integrate software systems and data across various departments while maintaining the value of existing software investments.
ERP systems implementation serve as a useful technique to break through the isolating barriers within an organization. They ensure that integrated applications are used in the same way by all departments to exchange data automatically. This automation increases reliability of business data and while simultaneously breaking down silos.
For instance, signing a contract by a sales department to sell an 'x' amount of units will automatically inform the manufacturing department system to check inventory. If inventory levels contain sufficient items, the job will automatically be scheduled from order to delivery. Workers from the associated departments will now connect and team up to mark successful order deliveries.
Automating information sharing will lead to faster, cost-effective, and timely delivery to the customer. ERP systems serve to increase business awareness within the organization. This is achieved by using integrated applications and understanding inter-dependencies between processes.
Through automation and ERP systems, management can establish real-time visibility and control of the business process. It helps to determine how the process is operating, where the bottlenecks might be, and highlight possible improvements.
Toine van Rooij, the Operations Director at Bruynzeel Keukens, said that their ERP setup was used specifically "to identify and resolve bottlenecks in our processes". He also detailed how they can "continue to minimize the costs of failure and to dissect all processes in order to coordinate them even better."
ERP systems help to minimize cost expenditures due to manual errors and inefficiency. To err is human. Employees may forget payment due dates, approval deadlines or make a payment for services or goods never received. But not with a well-oiled ERP setup. These might result in direct financial loss. ERP systems effectively minimize these errors by integrating systems so that every moving part is on the same page.
In today's competitive environment where every business is aiming to cut costs and increase productivity, ERP systems are able to meet countless strategic objectives. Automated business processes provide consistency in execution and safeguard compliance at the organizational level. ERP provides an easy way to automate processes, co-ordinate tasks and move data between process players. It also provides the flexibility and agility to support an ever changing environment.
Thanks to cloud and mobile technologies, enterprise software is experiencing significant disruption. IT teams can provide application access to thousands of workers all through the cloud. Employees can download and update software through custom app stores built specifically for their company.
As it now stands, we are on the crest of a wave that will alter the traditional approach to software in the enterprise.
For the first time ever, Salesforce which is a cloud based software company, cracked the top ten list of enterprise software vendors worldwide. Once dominated by Microsoft, SAP, and Oracle, cloud players such as Salesforce are disrupting the world of software in the enterprise.
Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings that provide access to powerful applications in the cloud on multiple devices, are shaking up the approach to enterprise IT and business applications. Workday is another example. Following a successful IPO in 2012, Workday has carved a deep path in Human Resource and recruiting software.
Companies like Salesforce and Workday pride themselves on the technical ease-of-use and aesthetic interface design. Such concerns were often sidelined by the traditional leaders in business software.
Salesforce CEO and Founder Marc Benioff, described his vision of creating the most intuitive enterprise software out there. And his strategy not only permeated the approach to software development and design, but also the very distribution model for selling access. SaaS models are emerging as the next iteration in software for the enterprise.
While logged into Salesforce, you’d be forgiven if you thought it was Facebook or LinkedIn. The interface is derivative of many social networks, which helps to minimize the learning curve for new users. There is even an app-store for integrating apps like Google Drive and an Apple Calendar or downloading custom apps that an enterprise makes available.
Workday, which specializes in HR software, modeled one of their newest products for recruiters by emulating the look of "eBay and Kayak." The company also uses the SaaS model. For the most recent version, it took less than six hours to install for over 400 companies at once.
Most technologists have heard of the Consumerization of IT, the Open Cloud, and the Post-PC era, but what does this mean for business users and enterprise IT teams?
When it comes to the average American, they understand and discern quality software experiences with serious prowess. Not too long ago, this would have been an amazingly incorrect statement. But as of 2013, the average American spends 60 hours per week on a digital device and the average household owns an average of four different devices.
For employees that use refined tools from the app stores for productivity and business, they will avoid poorly designed business software. While they will use the enterprise application for mandatory tasks, they may be using their own personal apps for other functionality.
Even the way in which an IT team distributes applications across an enterprise, has evolved to become more intuitive and dare I say 'consumer-friendly'. Dense spreadsheets, endless columns, and a cramped display for data-input fields, are no longer acceptable (if it can be helped).
While certain comprehensive applications require the ugly yet functional interfaces that are well-known to back-end systems. For instance, logistics systems cannot help but present information in the way that melds with existing workflows and a need for lots of data entry.
But even that aspect can be fixes through innovative design techniques, and approaches to things like 'smarter transitions' and user experience.
In a recent New York Times blog post, Quentin Hardy describes how "the new style of development is likely to make the products look more like consumer software." He gives the example of Workday's usage of their own application for searching internally for potential positions. Not only can employees easily search for available jobs, but they can share the job postings directly to LinkedIn and Twitter.
More and more, enterprises across all industries are seeking consumer friendly ways to make the most out of their business software.