Software developers opt for off-the-shelf

Software developers opt for off-the-shelf

In-house application design canned after 12 years


Australian consultant, trainer and enterprise software solutions developer Object Consulting has ceased creating in-house applications in exchange for an off-the-shelf professional services package.

The 300 employee strong company stopped creating in-house applications after 12 years to re-focus its software developers to serve the firm's customers, according to Object Consulting COO Julian Edwards.

"We built a lot of software in-house rather than buying retail solutions because we are a sophisticated software house and they mostly worked very well," Edwards said.

"Some of the developers were keen to keep our application building in-house, but the decision was made to buy retail because the developers are better deployed serving the customers, and our company was expanding."

The company deployed a new professional services roll-out to replace its in-house solution, based on Excel spreadsheets and disparate applications, with an automated solution to improve its project planning, invoicing, and reporting capabilities.

"We had issues with speed and there was very little consistency with the old solution and we needed real-time reporting and forecasting so we could see what projects were in progress," Edwards said.

"The whole area of management reports was previously a quagmire of spreadsheets and crunching numbers and waiting for reports.

"In sales, for example, reporting was distributed across regions which was a significant barrier to quickly consolidating sales information across the company."

The company deployed Compuware's Changepoint as an ERP solution after evaluating several other options, and began deployment of core modules four months ago.

"We're in small project mode at the moment; we have maintained our knowledge management [solutions] and began implementing core modules starting with resources, project and time tracking, then invoicing, financials, and sales and staff recruitment," Edwards said.

Knowledge management information now sits in a central repository and can be accessed by all staff including mobile sales and service who total about 50 percent of the workforce.

End-of-month management reports have been cut in half, and customized management reports and dashboards can be automatically generated.

However, Edwards is still planning to build some in-house reporting and timesheet applications for its PDA-based mobile workforce, using Changepoint APIs bought from Compuware.

He said the only challenge in the $250,000 project was the solution's complexity which he said "is always a good thing, provided it can be managed".

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