The Long Term Cost of Software Decisions

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The Long Term Cost of Software Decisions

Software is a such a big part of our business lives now. Virtually every decision we make has something to do with software.

I wish we all stepped back before we signed that next P.O. for a software investment and wrote down all the things that have to be present in order for you to use that software long-term.

You have to have staff that learn the software and then you have to keep that staff or re-train new staff. This is the most overlooked cost to software investments. I see printers buy 2-3 different web-to-print systems without thinking of the overhead of staffing that will create in the long run.

When you have your entire technical team’s budget wrapped up in maintaining and managing your legacy software decisions, its very hard to be innovative and react to new things in the marketplace.

Software doesn’t configure, implement, or maintain itself. People are still required – subscribing to software (SaaS) model greatly reduces your IT janitorial services (care and feeding of servers/bandwidth/etc.) but it doesn’t remove the burden of competent, qualified, and trained staff to interact with the solution.

Be cautious. Knee jerk investments can lead to a pile of legacy systems implemented for a few customers that build up a technical overhead that is unsustainable.

Look for solutions you can use widely across customers – when you buy something new, have a plan to retire the old.

4 Comments

  1. Murray Oles on February 14, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Excellent advice. Software is like any other tool. Maintain your tools and they will serve you well. This includes proper use and developing best practices. The temptation to make a knee jerk purchase to satisfy an immediate customer requirement accounts for a great number of software purchases that don’t fit into the long term strategic plan.



  2. Jennifer Matt on February 14, 2014 at 10:36 am

    Murray – thank you for your comment. We tend to see the immediate costs and then don’t think through the long-term consequences of keeping qualified staff around to provide the care and feeding of the system.

    Its easy to buy new stuff – that just takes money. Its really hard to de-commission legacy systems, that takes change-management, collaboration with the customers, and a lot of work that eats at the bottom line.

    Jen



  3. John Foley, Jr on February 14, 2014 at 11:59 am

    Hi Jennifer,

    Great post. One of the biggest challenges we have had in supporting our SAAS software suite in the print space is that fact that someone in the Print, Mail or Fulfillment company needs to run it and own it. Software does not run itself. I would also add that certain expertise and skills are needed on various software applications. I’m generalizing I know, but have seen it to often – The idea of having your prepress individual being responsible for Marketing campaign management application support and maybe the order management front ends and more, can only be asking for failure. The people and those skills are essential for success.

    Have a great weekend!

    John



  4. Jennifer Matt on February 14, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    John –

    You bring up a good point. We think because the system is hosted by the vendor it is under their care and feeding. It is from an IT infrastructure standpoint (what I call IT janitorial services – virus protection, backup, updates, etc.) But the operational part of the care and feeding – the stuff that requires response times that meet customer demands is all on you.

    This is not about making you nervous to invest in software, quite the contrary – software is the most effective tool to both optimize your business and enable you to make it easier on your customers to do business with you. This investment takes people (qualified ones).

    Jen