Best practices & tools for software enterprises

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Software companies have been helping all other industries the world over, but haven’t spent time and effort on establishing best practices and adopting tools for themselves. Isn’t this a delightful irony!

Software companies that have adopted best practices and tools have weathered the downturn better than those that haven’t. they have grown in a scenario where others have fallen by the wayside. How do you, as a software enterprise manager, go ahead and do this?

 

Let’s start by looking at the questions and challenges faced by software companies on a day-to-day basis:

 
 

1. 10 opportunities not moved for 6 months.
Increased sales cycle times

 
 

2. 10 opportunities worth less than $50,000
Pursuing opportunities worth less than threshold values lowers productivity

 
 

3. 25 projects delivered…no idea of “profits”
with no records on effort & costs, company profitability is in question

 
 

4. 5 projects are starting soon… do we have the “experts” today? Tomorrow?
No updated skill profiles – selection of “wrong” team or loss of opportunity

 
 

5. 10% of staff has left to join competition.
Inadequate measures to retain talent

 
 

6. Almost 80% of projects are slipping on schedule/effort/cost.
Inadequate systems for project planning, tracking and early-warnings

 
 

7. Project profitability is not high and customer complaints are rising.
Need for upfront risk planning & mitigation

 

To address the above questions continually and effectively, you need to put in place a framework for managing the firm. You need best practices in each area shown below:

 

Schematic: Framework for Managing a Software Enterprise

 

To address the challenges and questions above, enterprises need to adopt best practices. Best practices help in:

 

1. Effective targeting of customers

 

2. Consistent methods with clear definition of roles & responsibilities

 

3. Improved productivity

 

4. Scaling of processes for growth

 

5. Early identification of issues

 

6. Better decisions via data visibility

 

7. Reduced costs

 

8. Real-time profitability information

 

To adopt best practices in their operations, software enterprises need tailor-made solutions with:

 

1. Industry-specific functionality

 

2. Best practices

 

3. Low deployment times

 

Let us now look at two enterprises operating from Bangalore, that adopted best practices as well as enterprise solutions designed exclusively for the software industry:

 

Caselet 1

Enterprise: Fast-growing software services company

Need: To improve sales visibility and productivity

Process Areas Automated:

1. Opportunity qualification

2. Detailed opportunity capture

3. Weekly review of pipeline

4. Continual pipeline visibility to both sales & delivery teams

IT Solutions Adopted:

1. Web-native solution

2. All opportunity entry in solution

3. Proposal information repository

Benefits:

1. No ‘spread’ of spreadsheets, emails

2. Consistent sales methods

3. Online real-time sales visibility

 

 

 

Caselet 2

Enterprise: MNC software center

Need: Improve project management and project data capture

Process Areas Automated:

1. SEI-CMM Level 5 framework

2. Task planning & effort tracking via timesheets

3. Issue /defect management

IT Solutions Adopted:

1. Web-native solution

2. Enterprise-wide proj. mgmt. Tool

3. Single global project data repository

Benefits:

1. Quick achievement of CMM Level 5

2. Real-time status visibility of projects

3. Elimination of confusing set of tools

 

What should be the criteria for selecting the tools? Evaluate on these parameters:

 

1. Rapidly deployable (in 2-4 weeks!)

 

2. Quick-loading, easy-to-use screens

 

3. Scalable and open web architectures

 

4. Enterprise portals and dashboards

 

5. Low total cost of ownership(TCO)

 

6. Payback in months…in a quarter!!

 

Using best practices and the relevant tools, you can base your decisions on real-time data from customers, business processes, employees and market conditions. Improve the visibility and productivity of all business activities! Focus more on the three key drivers of your software enterprise – people, customers and knowledge!!

 

(The author Bhoopalan Padua is Co-Founder & Chief Marketing Officer, MitoKen Solutions (P) Ltd., pioneers of software enterprise management systems (SEMS). For feedback & Info, mail sems@businessgyan.com. Contact details are also on page 6.)

 

 

 

Issue BG19 Oct02