What are the real benefits of having online applications developed?, not just the standard bullet point benefits list routinely wheeled out at client presentation or splashed across every web development companies benefit listings page? I mean the actual reasons identified by clients and the main drivers and justifications for investing in an online application.
A few years back during a client meeting we were presented with no less than 30 real business benefits for replacing a very complicated, error riddled and painfully slow spreadsheet, this spreadsheet began its life in the early nineties and quiet simply the business needs had out grown its capabilities and reliability, however to find a client that had thought about the complete business benefits was indeed rare for us.
It got us thinking, what we believe the reasons to be change from client to client and project to project, we understand this but how much do the main benefits of cost and streamlining process dominate the justification for online applications.
The overriding decision to invest in online applications often revolve around a couple of main benefits, namely saving cost or streamlining a process, no surprise as its usually the operations directors or financial directors who hold the purse strings, so benefits such as ‘Safeguarding and sharing the knowledge’ become just side shows to the main event.
For a better understanding of the real reasons our clients invest in online application development we went back over our historical projects and proposals (and kept a record of all our new ones), so here are our top 10 real reasons why clients choose to invest in custom online application development.
1 Competitive Advantage –Implementing a system that will encourage their customers or suppliers to communicate with them more effectively than the competition, with the result of sales uplift or market share.
2 Reducing internal costs-A platform independent, hosted application that reduces internal costs for hardware, licenses, upgrades and associated running costs in terms of administration.
3 Streamlining a process-Taking a manual over developed process (usually paper or excel based) and replacing it with a more reliable, error free, partially automated and simpler system.
4 Accessibility, any time anywhere-Making the business systems available 24/7, not just for home based staff but also for employees who need secure access to the data, information or systems outside of office hours.
5 Replacing a Legacy system-Replacing old legacy systems that are no longer supported by the original vendor, or the cost involved in upgrading to the latest version of their software.
6 Merging multiple systems-Merging fragmented systems or information from many different programs such as spreadsheets, access databases, online orders and CRM systems into a single custom online application.
7 Tracking, traceability and reporting-Tracing and tracking individual performance across a multi site network, especially with field based sales representatives where information can be updated and tracked in real time, enabling instant reporting.
8 More cost effective than a software package-Looking for a more cost effective solution to the overpriced and functionality stuffed applications currently used in their industry.
9 Safety, Security and disaster recovery-More secure data structure than the current setup, the servers used to host the applications are stored in professional facilities where security is paramount. With offsite backups and a system hosted elsewhere it reduces the risk to the business from fire or theft and greatly improves business continuity and disaster recovery.
10 Flexibility, control and ownership-Replacing a system that has limited flexibility, either because it is desktop software that fulfils about 70% of what the client needs but needs to be 100% or that the current vendor is unwilling to offer the customisation of their product – leading to the need for the business to own the system with the flexibility to upgrade functionality as the business changes.
With over 14 years of experience in the development world, both from a marketing and technical position, Stuart Kinsey has developed a hunger for online application development,he now runs Iceberg Software in the UK, a specialist web development, online applications and digital strategy company.