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How Cloud Based Systems Are Challenging Traditional System Selection

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Selecting a new application is a major investment for any organization. The evaluation effort alone is a significant project between the time, energy, and money invested in analyzing applications and discussions with vendors.

Traditionally one of the key activities in the process was to review and document the requirements for a new system and use that to complete a Fit/Gap analysis. While this data can be useful, the shift to configurable cloud based systems rather than customizable on-premise applications has challenged how firms analyze these applications.

With the on-premise applications, a customizable code base gave companies a lot of opportunity to determine how certain things were done within an application. For example, if you wanted to have a screen formatted in a certain way to align with how your process worked, many on-premise products would allow you to build that as a customization. In contrast, cloud based systems may allow you to configure some of the layout, but the options may be limited by the configurable objects.

While this may sound like a drawback, it is a significant opportunity for companies if leveraged appropriately. One of the many benefits of multi-tenant cloud based systems is that everyone is on the same code base at the same point in time. In other posts we’ve discussed how this leads to fewer bugs and improved user experience, but it also gives vendors great insight into best practices their client base is using. This is a tremendously powerful dataset. For example, imagine if your company could leverage the knowledge base of thousands of companies and how they are doing their Accounts Payable process. You could incorporate those best practices and lessons learned to greatly improve your own organizations process.

So what does this mean for system selection?

The move towards configuration rather than customization should challenge companies which are evaluating new software to ask “What is critical to accomplish in the tool?” rather than “How do we get this done?”. Using this framework as the basis for requirements gathering will identify those unique and critical items for vendors to demonstrate. It will also showcase their functionality in a way that will allow you identify the areas of opportunity which the software presents. A phrase that I use to describe this is the “Art of the possible”. Your organization can still evaluate whether or not a system meets your business’ true needs while showcasing more insight into transformational opportunities that a new system would facilitate.

With this in mind, I would challenge you to think about your approach when selecting your next application. As with any significant investment, you want to ensure you are getting the best return possible. In this case, you will gain greater insight into how new applications can be leveraged for truly transformational change while still ensuring the application will be able to meet the organizations unique and critical needs. 

Selecting a new application is a major investment for any organization. The evaluation effort alone is a significant project between the time, energy, and money invested in analyzing applications and discussions with vendors. Traditionally one of the key activities in the process was to review and document the requirements for a new system and use that to complete a Fit/Gap analysis. While this data can be useful, the shift to configurable cloud based systems rather than customizable on-premise applications has challenged how firms analyze these applications.

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Categories: Technology

Brent Darsch

As a leader of the Technology Selection service offering, Brent drives client evaluations of systems from search initiation through final selection. His background of more than 8 years in finance operations, systems implementation, and process improvement provides key insights to organizations as they invest in technology to meet their strategic goals.

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