Microsoft Public Sector – Business automation


Decision makers should consider some main points when decide to begin a new solution for automating there company’s business, says Fady Angelo
Any successful startup company in any business field, its main focus is on how to survive in its first period, by providing competing services with competing prices to penetrate the market and in the same time to cover its running cost. In most cases it cannot always cover it running costs in the first period and company stake holders have always to pump more money in order to grow up the company up.  That makes any startup company try to lower its costs as much as they could.
At this stage office suite including spread sheets and Word is more than enough for their small scale. But when business grows up and number of employees increases they find that they need the following:
1. Provide more control over business process.
2. Need to get on demand accurate information in order to take the right decision.
3. Provide better communication between company teams and employees.
4. Put rules for each job position to follow systematically.
5. Speed up the internal business cycle.
6. Minimize errors due to manual and paper based work and provides more documentation for business operations.
7. Control profit and expenses.

It will be found that it is hard to grow up without performing business automation rules. Then the business stake holders start to think about implementing a software or solution to automate the business.
Until then the decision is great, but the problem is how to take the right decision when deciding to accomplish automation process for the company. In most cases when they decide to start the automating the business process they will have probably four different choices:

First choice- Ask companies that work in same business of what solution or software they use even this may not the best fitting to your unique business needs.

Second choice – Make a small search on the internet, magazines or advertisement about software applications or solutions that serve your business sector.

Third choice – Search and try to find a software provider company and let them design for you a solution that fit your unique business needs and requirements. By going analysis with the company different teams and your company teams should provide them with all the documents and data needed.

Fourth choice – Develop an in house software or solution by constructing a new R&D (Research and Development) department and hiring Computer science developers. While you do not have a background of how to manage a software or IT (Information Technology) department. But you took this decision just to build the software with low cost (which is not always true) and provide your company with continuous support and maintenance for the excepted newly born software.

Actually in all of the four choices, it should be taken in consideration the following:

1. Implementer team background
It is important to know the Implementer or developing team experience and there maturity level. Also do they have technical and business background experience for the desired system or solution or not?

2. Application type and scope
What is the desired application type that best suite my business, Web-based application or Mobile or even Desktop application? It can be also a hybrid between application types, for example to have web-based application for the operation and accounting teams and mobile applications for sales team and management. It also can be mix of hardware devices and applications. Also it can be an application that should integrate with other applications or call some web services.

3. Database engine and backbone infrastructure
It is important to know the database engine that will be used in the system. Is it a reliable database engine that has support and updates from a reliable vendor.  The selection of database engine might control the business extension in the future if chosen inappropriate database engine. Also it is important to know the needed infrastructure and network implementation for the system or solution that the application will be installed on. And does the solution will be installed on local servers inside the company or will be hosted on the cloud.

4. Integrated solution
During the selection procedures of software and solution for the automation, It is not enough to be impressed by the user interface (UI) of any software or applications but also to know what modules and workflow the solution covers. It should be known if the solution will cover the company full business cycle or part of it and if it does not cover the full cycle what other software or solutions that can be integrated with it to complete the business cycle.

5. Plan and time frame
You should know the time frame that the desired solution will be ready to be used in production environment. A project plan for the solution implementation should be clear. It should define what procedures to follow. And if a data migration or data entry should be done before going the project goes live. It is also recommended to use paper based work in the first duration parallel with the new system until you get confident with the results and its accuracy of the new system.

6. Support
A support plan should be clear and its availability, because without support any system will die. Any business has always continuous changes in needs and requirements that it was initially started with. It might be discovered some bugs or defects in the system during live work in some special cases that can make your workflow stop until the defect is solved. So it is important to have support with the implementer or developing team or company.

7. Price
Then price comes at last. If you are comfort with the other previous six points during selection then choose the suitable price. Software because of its untouchable nature and always contains a lot of details, so selection should not be mainly based on price only, because low price solutions can make all the project fail or prevent company from future extensions due to bad design. And start again from the beginning to implement a new system or solution with another software vendor.
“Decision makers should not rush when think of doing business automation for their business, because doing the right thing with the wrong way will result with a distorted solution”

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