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Commercial off the Shelf (COTS) Implementation Thoughts

Oh, the joys of working with big vendors and selecting a COTS product. Some things to consider in your greater process…

Selecting a COTS solution for your organization can be challenging on many fronts.
Here are some high-level thoughts to consider in building out your plan.
  • Depending on your internal processes you may have to pursue the whole RFI, RFP, and selection processes; granted there can be some nice vendor dinners and swag while you and your team travel all over or the vendors are packed in your office’s conference rooms
    • How much fun is building out every little requirement that your business team needs all over again?
      • Don’t forget to build time into your schedules for requirements building or time and hard costs on vendors to do the work for you.
    • How about thinking about where your company wants to be feature/function-wise in the next three years? Get your crystal ball out and have your teams prepared to discuss old (backlog) and new requirements for the future (have that 3 – 5-year detailed strategy ready?)
  • Budgets and the detailed planning are enormous, we frequently see budgets for Fortune 750 POS systems hitting $100 million USD, Insurance policy administration and claims systems hitting $100 million USD and taking 3 years to regain existing functionality of today (can you delay your business value by 3 years?)
    • We also have seen companies going into a 3-year implementation plan and for various reasons the project(s) taking  1 to 2 years longer
  • Cost of licenses (cost of the COTS product, plus any dependent external tools or impacted tools/systems)
  • Cost of retraining (internal IT, business, and external partners)
  • Cost of requirements gathering (most organizations fail to plan for this in their timeline and overall budgeting process)
  • Cost of reinventing business processes (new systems, new requirements, etc. drive implementing new processes and there usually is a cascade effect in doing so)
  • Cost of waiting X years to implement a new system just to get to a current technology footprint while the industry competitors continue to move forward (what is the Cost of Opportunity lost due to the system replacement)
  • Cost of testing – oftentimes testing new large scale systems is underestimated.
    • Do you have an existing testing plan?
    • Do you have tooling support testing dependent systems? (interfaces, data, etc)
  • Impact and proper impact assessment to all the external systems
    • Be aware of the impact on external and surround enterprise systems in your planning
  • Consider the vendor’s process for accepting functional requests/changes – can they keep up with your business?
  • How are you going to deal with the old system data?
    • Convert it to the new system?
    • Data Lake? Data Warehouse?
    • Don’t forget about security with older data sets – are you creating a potential breach vector by leaving data sitting somewhere on the network with sensitive information (PII, PHI, PCI, etc)
    • Don’t forget to create a data catalog today while someone is around that understands the older data structures
    • How will business and/or IT work with the older data if there are compliance or other needs in the future that require access?
  • Is the Ops team prepared? Do they have the budget to be ready to implement on your greater timeline?
  • Is the Finance team ready?  Are you going to have to take some write-downs due to moving to a new system?  Is this budgeted?
Application Modernization and Transformation can alleviate most of these headaches.
Contact us if you would like a free consultation on tool-driven application modernization and whether it aligns with your needs.