Guest Blogger - Russ Miller, CTO SunView Software
Originally posted on the SunView Software Community
Is your IT department losing its internal customers to Software-as-a-Service solutions? If so, you are clearly not alone. It seems every week I see another article about line-of-business departments signing up for SaaS-based services and abandoning homegrown, on-premises systems. Meanwhile, I hear from colleagues that often the hosted solution their users migrate to is lacking either in terms of featured depth and breadth or some other important aspect. Nevertheless, the IT customer signs up for the external service, many times without ever consulting IT. What is IT to do about this?
In-house IT departments that have their own application development, need to leverage their strongest advantage over cloud-based solutions - their understanding of the business and their access to the users to ensure they are delivering value where they can, all fine-tuned to their user's needs. OK, sounds obvious right, so how do you go beyond the obvious?
1) Are the internal users kept at arm length? Permit and encourage the IT staff, including software developers to directly interact with business users, and vice-versa. We try to optimize out all the interruptions on either side, but to be optimal, if a developer is headed in the wrong direction, better to learn that sooner rather than later.
2) "Go to the gemba"-that is, IT staff should put themselves in the users shoes in a meaningful way.
3) Have you considered formal processes for finding and addressing user headaches, for example, is the staff aware of Contextual Design? You might find this too heavy at first glance, but there is also a lighter version. Even if you chose the lighter version you can get value by just applying parts of this process.
No SaaS vendor can possibly understand your users and their business, as well as, the internal IT department. What are you doing to build a strong relationship with your business user's and to leverage that relationship to help the business? In the end, if there's a good relationship, you may learn the best solution is SaaS, and with a close, non-adversarial relationship you can be in the loop to help the business chose the best of the SaaS options-whereas if there's no trust or understanding, they will likely subscribe first and involve IT later.
Also check out the podcast from Russ Miller on the topic.