January 18, 2016
Build software or buy it off the shelf? The conflicting needs of a client and the Cloud
By: Megan Armour

Hello All,

Since my last blog I have been submerged in my SAP Success Factors Cloud project, attempting to gather all of the client’s requirements for the new system we are implementing. I thought it would be insightful to explain the hurdles that you have to overcome from both the Cloud software side and the client side when trying to produce a customised system, as this is something that I am sure all technology Consultants have to deal with!

First of all some definitions are needed. When implementing a system that is “out of the box,” it means that the software will work immediately after configuration without any modification. Many clients however do not want a ready-made software package that is straight off the shelf. The advantage of having a bespoke system is that it will fit to the client's individual business needs and the software can connect to external applications in order to share data.

My current project is requiring a very high level of customisation, and this means that our team is constantly dealing with unique client requests. When assessing non-standard software requirements, the Accenture team has to evaluate the software’s abilities and limitations. We want to meet all the client's requirements but we also do not want to set unachievable expectations. As we are working with a Cloud based solution, customisation is very difficult and communication with SAP is key to keeping on track with our project milestones.

When working on a project like this, I have found there is a balance that you must achieve between ensuring the client's high priority needs are met and being realistic about deployment. If the client is requesting an essential functionality, that perhaps other clients in the future will also require, then this indicates that it is worthwhile contacting SAP and enquiring about adding in new software features. However, if the client is demanding magical unessential add on functionality, it is in our best interest to be pragmatic and communicate that this is not possible. In these instances, it is our job to find a “work around” solution, so that the client appreciates we have attempted to find a solution. These may be manual outcomes, but it demonstrates we have considered all of the outstanding issues.

This ability to juggle between pushing new requirements and being rational about existing functionality is something that I have acquired over the past two months and have found that this is key to being a successful Analyst. Another key insight is that it is important to always find a solution to a client’s problem, regardless of its longevity - even if it involves a manual work around.

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