Today somebody asked me what small to medium business owners need to consider when they wish to migrate to a hosted Software Solution. So here are my initial 10 thoughts:
Migration issues in general:
- Choosing software or any type of IT solution has a reason: you want your business processes to run more effectively and/or efficiently: you want to be able to analyse information to do a gap analysis or to predict the future so you can strategically respond to what is happening in the market. Make sure you understand you reasoning for the solution, and you need to have a solid understanding of how your processes run internally (currently, without the help of the software solution).
- Based on this assessment you can create a ‘wish list’ – what does the software need to do? What are the features that will create this benefit for you? Based on this analysis you can make a choice of the product. The next step is to consider to purchase the licenses and host the software internally on the server (if you have one!) or to opt for external hosting solutions.
- When you already use the solution as a purchased license software solution and you want to move to a hosted version you need to think about the reasons why:
- Do you lack the internal IT support?
- Do you lack the internal storage / processing power to run more concurrent users on the system?
- Do you want to spread the payment from an upfront lump-sum payment to a ‘pay as you go’ system (basically transferring the budget from capital purchases to operational expenses)
Small to medium enterprise specifically:
- Before you sign any contract: Ask for the hosting agreement and SLA. Small business owners usually don’t have experience with these type of agreements and not viewing them might open up pandora’s box without you knowing it. Make sure you understand the agreements and what it means to your business processes.
- IT support - what are the expectations of the hosting provider? Do they expect you to be a technical genius? Or at least have an IT professional on staff to help with the day-to-day operational activities, or are they able to communicate with you in plain business English and explain what is needed without you having to up skill in IT qualifications…
- When going through the SLA, look for business impact. A hosted Software solution that has an availability guarantee of “95% of the time we should be able to ping the server” is of absolute NO value to your business.
- Search for availability guarantees and penalty clauses: does the availability fit in with your business model? Example: when you are based in the US, but the hosting provider is based in Europe - what does the term ‘business hours’ mean? Yours or theirs? And… are your business hours the same as what the provider has in mind? (you may run an internet based business that needs 24×7 support…)
- What do you need to do to receive the credits when the hosting provider failed to achieve the guaranteed service levels. Are they automatically processes, or do you need to ask for them in writing?
- Migrating to a SaaS or hosted Software solution is usually fairly easy: the hosting provider is keen to sell so they will help you with setting everything up and transferring the information to the hosted environment. Make sure you have TRAINING included in the initial setup. Your staff will need to go through different steps to access the software (example: MS Dynamic CRM as a hosted solution has the outlook client and the web-client à staff members need to understand how this works and how the 2 views fit together.)
- What is the exit strategy? How do you get the information back when you finish the hosting contract?
Originally posted 2008-09-23 00:50:29. Republished by Blog Post Promoter