How do you get a COTS package to fit your business?

You Can’t Connect The Dots Looking Forward; You Can Only Connect Them Looking Backward.
Steve Jobs

These days it is widely accepted that buying Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) applications is less risky and cheaper in the long run than developing your own.

The key to getting value from a COTs software packages is to look past the glossy brochure, sexy mobile screens and vendor promises. You have to focus on how the software delivers through business processes the products and services, which provides value to customers.

Most organisations like to keep secret their unique selling proposition.  You have to be careful about giving your COTs vendor access to “your gold” which they might share with your competitors. In some organisations, this means that COTs packages are only used for for supporting business processes.

Vendor capability is an important factor with a COTs package. If the investment is sizeable you should run a pilot to assess the maturity of the vendor.

At some point be prepared to change (reverse engineer) existing business processes rather than customise the software, as customisations are expensive and require continual support.

Only reverse engineer existing business processes if it provides value to products and services, which provide value to customers. If it does not provide value then you may have the wrong COTs package or you may need to develop bespoke software .

There are 3 tried and tested steps to making your COTS implementation successful:

  1. Business processes are key to start-up any COTS project
  2. Discover the “as is” business process state to confirm that the products & services in scope for the COTs software package are still important for the organisation
  3. Organisational change must be performed in conjunction with process reengineering

Good analysis is critical. Quality analysis is cheaper, quicker and less risky!

Use BAs, Business Analysts to drive the business processes discovery before engaging a vendor.

Have you ever seen an organisation buy COTs software, which makes the business more complicated & less efficient?