Don't underestimate the importance of cultural similarity when employing an IT consulting firm for a big-time enterprise software deployment, said one analyst.
The perception of the role of the IT department will differ from organization to organization, so it is necessary that the third party tasked with deploying enterprise software shares the same view, said Matt Healey, research manager for software and hardware support and deployment services with Framingham, Mass.-based research firm IDC Ltd.
“That's where it gets a little bit softer and may not come through in an RFP,” said Healey.
The request for proposal may not necessarily indicate whether the consultancy's view of IT is such that an organization should own and understand its technology, said Healey. Or if technology should be a mere commodity and the real core competency lies elsewhere in the business.
“There are different approaches,” he said. “You should make sure that the firm you are working with culturally fits with your organization.”
Relevant field experience with a similar organization is also vital, because it means the consultancy has built an entire practice around deploying big enterprise software like enterprise resource planning or customer relationship management systems, said Healey.
“They've seen all the pitfalls before because they have done this multiple times and have done it with enterprises that are probably similar to the enterprise that they are probably working on,” said Healey.
Organizations should also look for a third party with a strong working relationship with the software provider, in the event that technical issues, Level 3 support, or engineering resources are required, said Healey.
Islandia, New York-based CA Inc. announced this week 17 new and updated standardized services as part of its portfolio of 70 implementation services for CA products.
Providing additional flexibility and functionality were the drivers behind some of the new and updated offerings, said Tom Sadtler, vice-president of product marketing with CA Inc.
The 17 offerings for pre-packaged, fixed-price rapid implementations focus on the areas of application performance management, infrastructure management, service management, project and portfolio management, security, and mainframe.
Besides the rapid implementation offerings, CA also has services for customers looking for a tailored approach.
CA's implementation services are based on a nine-stage deployment methodology and delivered via trained architects and consultants who apply the approach uniformly regardless of the country, said Sadtler.
“Because of the consistency in how we use this nine-stage deployment methodology, we're able to do things in a standard and repeatable fashion,” said Sadtler.
Encompassing the tools used by trained partners is a “deployment playbook” of best practices, also ensuring consistency across the implementations, said Sadtler.
The result is lowered risk and a relatively shorter deployment time where it can, depending on the flexibility of the software, be 30 days, said Sadtler. In particular, public sector customers in both Canada and the U.S. “see this as a way to shift the deployment risk from them to us,” he said.
In the current economic downturn, Sadtler said customers are finding their IT budgets too lean to cope with an internal enterprise software deployment, preferring instead to outsource.
The decision to manage a deployment without the help of a third party is often driven by the belief that the organization can do it just as well for less money, said Healey. That may be true for software deployments that aren't overly-complex, he said.
“If you're trying to deploy very simple software that doesn't require a lot of integration with current business processes or other enterprise software that you have, internal can be a very attractive option,” he said.
On the other hand, an internal deployment is not the way to go if the software is to integrate into a heterogeneous environment or touch multiple business processes, said Healey.
“Hiring a third party to assist with the deployment results in a far higher probability that you will realize the gains you were expecting from the software,” he said.