Each company that uses software to operate its organizational and business processes sooner or later faces the necessity to update and to introduce changes into it, as their performance, communication with customers, and sales are highly dependent on its functioning.
These changes are not significant, and as a rule, they are not time-consuming. Nevertheless, their execution and implementation can encounter unexpected difficulties. In most cases, companies that develop and deliver software are not eager to spend their time on tying up loose ends. Frankly, it’s not profitable for them. In their turn, a customer may have a reasonable concern about involving a third-party developer into the process, as there is always a high risk of them not being able to understand the peculiarities of the system and breaking something inside it.
Not only IT managers are familiar with this kind of problem. Our life is full of examples when the assignment is 98 percent complete, but suddenly we realize that there is something else to be done, a trifle which slipped our attention at the very beginning, and every time we bump into it, it will cause inconveniences. For instance, we had a house built, but one of the rooms lacks a couple of sockets. The specialists responsible for the renovation are reluctant to take on such a small job even though the customer is ready to overpay to solve the problem as it spoils the whole impression. The contractor isn’t interested in putting any effort into solving the matter either as he is already looking forward to another big project. Where should one look for a specialist who will agree to perform such minor work? Lots of freelancers suggest their services on classifieds, but there is no guarantee that they will be able to understand the electrical wiring map and do everything at a high level.
Let’s come back to the IT-sphere. The situation here is the same. Very few companies would agree to maintain unfamiliar software or to fix bugs in it. Even fewer will be able to do it qualitatively.
In general, two main challenges stand out:
1. Difficulty to find a software company motivated to take on a small task, which, let’s face it, won’t be very profitable for it.
2. A customer’s fear to delegate the task to other software companies as they aren’t sure that a new contractor will be able to understand the peculiarities of the system (especially if it is tailor-made) and fulfill the task without affecting adjacent systems.
Let’s look at the first challenge. Is there any use in looking for an experienced freelancer who will save the situation? In most cases, this is the way out. However, the companies here could take initiative.
It doesn’t pose any problem to solve the matter from a technical standpoint. The only thing software development companies should do is to group similar tasks from different customers and to accomplish all of them in one move.
Of course, the price of tying up the loose ends will reasonably decrease. But in this case, a customer will have to sacrifice the terms of the project as now the task will be performed in terms that are more suitable for the contractor. Anyway, it’s better than nothing.
You’ll also have to agree to delegate the task to a third party, to people who you don’t know personally and have no idea whether they are trustworthy. No customer trusts a new contractor implicitly. This distrust has nothing to do with the experience and qualifications of a new company. The thing is that a new contractor isn’t familiar with exactly this system, project, business, whatever. In a situation like this, an on-going question usually arises: whether a new contractor will be able to figure out the specifics of the software developed by other specialists and a reasonable apprehension that involvement of the third party can make things even worse. Unfortunately, in most cases, a customer appears to be right.
In the long-existing fields of human activity, this kind of problem was solved through the implementation of standards a long time ago. For instance, in housing construction the basis for any changes are production drawings. So, a new contractor can make any modifications without a threat of damaging something. But in the IT-sphere everything is much more complicated. Our field has appeared recently and is developing at a brisk pace. There are no standards, and tips, which were relevant just yesterday, have become outdated today. However, this situation isn’t a stalemate either.
How would I recommend to approach to this ‘searching for a contractor’ quest?
1. I would rather search for a software development company which has a good deal of experience exactly in your industry. The most challenging thing in IT solutions is not the use of technologies but the implementation of business processes into technological solutions. That’s why people who are familiar with similar processes are likely to be able to offer you their expert help.
2. If you have failed to find a software development company that works in your industry, try to get in touch with the developers who have experience of working with similar businesses. For example, business process services on water filtration system maintenance can be very similar to business process services on snack machines maintenance, etc. Think a little, and you should find plenty of parallels which will prompt you where to look for the company you need.
3. If none of these tips suits you, then let’s come back to technologies. Modern technologies are quite a simple thing. Hush, don’t tell programmers about it. They believe the opposite. But they are not right!
So, if your solution is based on one of the modern business platforms like Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamic, SAP or Zoho, then any company, which is involved in setting up and implementing such systems, should be able to help you. The thing is that limitations and rules built into these systems by their manufacturer are so fundamental that there is scarcely anybody who violates them!