Strategic CIO // IT Strategy
Commentary
10/1/2004
09:13 AM
Commentary
Commentary
Commentary
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

SmartAdvice: Consider Commercial Software Or An ASP To Provide A Management System

Off-the-shelf software or an ASP could meet most of your company's needs for a work-order-management system, The Advisory Council says. Also, consider whether you want to outsource your security functions at all, and then whether you want to outsource offshore.

Editor's Note: Welcome to SmartAdvice, a weekly column by The Advisory Council (TAC), an advisory service firm. The feature answers three questions of core interest to you, ranging from career advice to enterprise strategies to how to deal with vendors. Submit questions directly to smartadvice@tacadvisory.com

Question A: What factors should we consider in selecting a facilities work-order-management system?

Our advice: On the surface, choosing a facility work-order-management system might look like a difficult problem that requires highly specialized and customized software. On the contrary, with a bit of advance planning and careful determination of the real project requirements, it's likely that you'll be able to find a commercial solution that will meet 80% to 90% of your needs for a moderate cost.

The first step is to identify the exact requirements that will meet the company's minimum needs. How many work orders would you process per year? What's the average size and complexity? Are they all similar, such as cable modem installations, for example, or are they each unique? Once these criteria have been established, researching the right system becomes a matter of matching the solution with the requirements. Look for an application that meets at least 80% of the design criteria with only minimal configuration and customization. Unless there are some highly specialized application requirements, take advantage of software developed for similar industries and processes. Many of the system requirements could be met by a vendor-management system designed specifically for the construction or facilities-management industries. Using commercially available software is generally a good value, unless the business application is truly unique.


Related Links
Software Interoperability Problems Take Big Toll On Construction And Building

BuilderSpace.com Architecture & Construction Industry Software Directory

Another approach would be to consider an application service provider. With no need for new hardware, and minimum configuration or customization, deploying a comprehensive ASP solution can be a very cost-effective approach in the short term. The advantages of using an ASP are that deployment and configuration can be completed in a matter of weeks rather than months, and the company doesn't need to worry about building and maintaining IT infrastructure to support the system—that's all part of the package. These systems are Web-based and generally accessible from anywhere (with proper authentication), so field personnel access is built-in, even in rough conditions. Most ASPs are priced on a per-seat basis, which fits well with a small but growing company that's concerned with minimizing costs. There are a number of them on the market with a variety of features and price structures.

In conclusion, vendor and construction project-management software has become more sophisticated, less expensive, and more intuitive in recent years. You would do well to refine the requirements and look for a commercial system that meets the majority of them as is. Take advantage of the experience and knowledge of the application vendors. The ASP industry has matured over the past few years. As long as the solution meets most of the requirements, it's an excellent method for mid-sized and new companies to ramp up their IT applications rapidly with minimal initial investment.

--Beth Cohen

Previous
1 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Transformative CIOs Organize for Success
Transformative CIOs Organize for Success
Trying to meet today’s business technology needs with yesterday’s IT organizational structure is like driving a Model T at the Indy 500. Time for a reset.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Government Tech Digest Oct. 27, 2014
To meet obligations -- and avoid accusations of cover-up and incompetence -- federal agencies must get serious about digitizing records.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
A roundup of the top stories and community news at InformationWeek.com.
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.