With the advent of cloud support services and the opportunity to now tie hands with leading vendors (such as being an exclusive AWS partner, for instance), the manner in which organizations go about their daily duties has been completely revolutionised – and for the greater good, at that. The virtualization of technology infrastructure has not only removed the hassle of maintenance and management, it has also encouraged massive cost savings and an improvement of overall productivity. Unless an organization is completely paper-based (which is practically improbable as of now), every business has encountered their fair share of digital applications.
From basic task management tools to an online calendar, much counts as ‘enterprise software’. Such a broad spectrum of products and services is now also home to trending advancements, such as AI, IoT and big data. In a business environment where digitization is only a matter of when, where and how the right technologies need to be dispensed in order to attract customers, enterprise software is what shall drive this forward.
Today’s digital landscape is so saturated with competing brands and vast customer pools, that distinguishing your product/service offerings from the rest is a challenging task. However, this need not be a Herculean effort, if your teams are equipped with the right tools and technologies. It all starts from the inside – and your organization’s internal networks, workflows and communication streams are no exception to this rule. However, look from the outside and in; which means that you need to observe what your customers prefer best, and then hone your internal systems in order to meet those preferences.
While this may demand much perception on the part of you and your team, it is the most sustainable way to keep your business in lockstep with the needs of your consumers. There will certainly be some trial and error, and that is totally okay. Even if you may not get it right the first time, you can determine which features and functionalities will eventually empower your team to meet customer needs – and scale up or down as needed.
Summing it up, enterprise software is indispensable – there’s no doubt about that. What needs to now be considered is just how enterprise software aligns to meet your business’s goals, from revenue to customer retention. In this article, we will focus on some basic advantages of enterprise software applications, in a bid to refresh our memories on why they truly matter – and what difference they can create for our businesses.
This has to be the biggest benefit of enterprise software in general – as well as the quickest to be noticed, once a new software or application is deployed for use. By creating, assigning and monitoring tasks in one centralized platform, the margin for error is significantly reduced. Whether it’s reminding team members to work on specific tasks or providing managers a bird’s eye view of all operations, streamlining task/project management provides all team members the leverage they need to do their best work in a timely manner.
With modern task management tools, there is also no need to restrict your team to cookie-cutter interfaces and rules. Create custom policies with ease – without ever needed manual intervention from IT or development staff. On a grander scale, workflow management can extend over to larger applications such as ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning). Primarily in use in the manufacturing industry, ERPs are also prevalent in numerous other market sectors such as logistics, supply chain and engineering. By combining a variety of business units, their various touch points and their databases, ERPs eliminate any silos that could render valuable information to fall through the cracks.
All in all, the aspect of workflow management is practically the flagship purpose of enterprise software – for it primarily strives to ease the routine and emergency duties of any given business team, at any given time.
With the entire purpose of enterprise software encompassing streamlined workflows and the ability to never miss a single task, any given application shall need support (or a basic connection) to relevant other applications in order to best make this happen. Whether your organization is already reliant on a specific application, or needs to connect disparate applications across multiple business units, integration is an important constituent for efficient enterprise software. Thanks to APIs, webhooks, SDKs and plugins, development and IT teams are able to facilitate the conglomeration of multiple applications, so data can be cross-shared between both.
Certain platforms can also harbour low-code or no-code technologies, thereby giving those with no formal programming capabilities to customize their own software stack to suit specific requirements. The ability to integrate easily these days has further enhanced the efficacy quotient of enterprise software in general – and also made it less unnerving for companies to deploy new software, or upgrade what is existing.
Software development in Sri Lanka, for example, is primarily focused towards building customized web and software applications for clients both local and international. However, many clients are already reliant on any existing applications, in order to conduct their daily duties. Newly built software is therefore designed to include integration capabilities with pre-existing sister applications, so that organizations need not forfeit the familiarity that comes with using an existing software component. This can also mitigate any risks involved with data migration, as the task of importing/exporting data from one source to another in the interest of maintaining everything in one centralized space could lead to mishaps such as data corruption.
The 21st century business, no matter how small, is a magnet for massive big data repositories. From routine transactions to website impressions, everything counts as a valuable data point for future evaluation and decision making. Enterprise software further propels this, as customer touch points, databases and the like are closely connected. Use these unstructured, raw statistics to make better sense of your customers’ likes and dislikes, so your organization can adjust accordingly in order to satisfy changing requirements.
Today’s enterprise software products come embedded with reporting/analytics tools, so that data gathered can be crunched within a single, centralized application. How sophisticated a reporting/analytics component is shall depend on the software vendor, your budget and the software category itself. If your organization requires a more advanced analytics tool, consider deploying a BI platform via integration. You cannot improve what you cannot measure, so establishing comprehensive reporting systems that can answer pressing questions pertaining to the health of your business can determine overall profitability, as well as longevity.
In order to understand the relevance and importance of automotive technologies such as AI and machine learning, we need to remind ourselves of one of the main reasons why enterprise software is built in the first place – which is task and workflow management. While custom rules and policies can be configured to assign tasks to different team members, and alarms can be enabled to create reminders for anything that’s overdue, AI and machine learning can take overall automation to a whole new level.
By creating custom algorithms that can identify patterns in existing data, tasks can be automatically created, modified and assigned to different team members. Accuracy can be enhanced through machine learning, as assumptions made by the program can be improved with more streams of data. In other words, programs can be trained via machine learning, in order to enable more accurate outcomes with every iteration. This thereby gives your team members the opportunity to free up their valuable time – and divert their attention to areas that truly need it.
Case in point, AI-powered chatbots offer self-service facilities that take care of common customer quandaries. In the event that a more complex inquiry is received, the bot transfers the customer over to a human agent. As a result, conversational AI is a prime example of how AI helps automate routine tasks, so that agents can only be approached when a handoff is made.
If you’re looking to build a custom enterprise software application for your business, you will need to do your due diligence before, during and after the software development process. Although this may sound tedious in theory, it can be a lean and insightful exercise, in practice.
By helping you discern what makes your business truly tick, the journey towards building powerful software can be quite the learning process – which shall also deliver massive rewards in return. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all blueprint for identifying which features and functionalities should constitute the final outcome, the below pointers can help any business determine what they need.
First things first, you and your team need to precisely understand where gaps lie within your business, and what can be done to counter them. Gather relevant team members for this exercise (including those who will eventually use the system) to find answers to questions such as:
Asking these questions can subsequently spark other questions too, depending on what is uncovered. Collate all these insights into a brief, which will serve as the base point of reference for your software development team, going forward.
Next, it’s time to discuss what you and your team members have unearthed; review your brief thoroughly, and ensure your software development team is familiar with the problems at hand. Whether it’s an in-house or outsourced team, they need to be involved in this process from the very beginning. Some organizations even invite their software development team for initial business assessment meetings, so they can get the exposure they need to really drill down when it comes to strategizing.
Software outsourcing in Sri Lanka (as well as in numerous other destinations which are oriented towards technology outsourcing in general) conduct fully-fledged staff augmentation, to ensure that complex business initiatives are precisely understood prior to execution. By having all hands on deck, software outsourcing companies greatly leverage their existing skills and capacities, so that a software is built right the first time and maintained accurately thereafter.
Once strategies, budgets and timelines are approved, project kick-off then requires product owners to supervise progress. An Agile software development process further streamlines this, as smaller, workable goals make it easier for teams to move forward.
Preliminary software versions that are lighter and only consist of the most basic functionalities (such as a Minimum Viable Product or MVP) are ideal for brand new deployments, since businesses can gauge how applications are being received by employees.
This feedback can then be used to improve the next version, thereby creating an application that only consists of what users truly want – and maintaining a DevOps cycle which only strives for upgrades that are valuable for all stakeholders.
Overwhelmed by the realm of enterprise software? With so many categories, vendors and functionalities out there, it can be challenging to determine what exactly shall benefit your business – and what won’t. Building custom software isn’t an easy path to tread on either; with the vast number of technologies that keep evolving at the blink of an eye, deciding what to adopt and what to forgo can feel just as daunting.
However, by conducting a basic business assessment and monitoring your software development teams for desired progress, each baby step you take can turn into valuable progression. Add to this the maintenance of a long-term DevOps cycle, which only produces software updates that your employees shall find useful – and will make them more productive.