The Great Divide: The Difference Between Planning and No Planning in Software Deployment

Would you go on a road trip without clear directions or a plan to get to your destination? Some would, and that’s OK.

The majority would have more confidence when going on a trip with a map and a plan to get to where you want to go. Without a roadmap or planned route, there is a great risk of losing time to get to your destination if you get lost, and losing money on wasted gas. 

The same idea applies to any large business investment to be made at a company. It goes unsaid that companies lose time and money when they jump into a large project, such as software investment, without a “roadmap” or plan.

According to Innotas, 55 percent of IT professionals surveyed indicated that they have experienced software project failure. Most of these failures can be traced back to a lack of proper planning.

As companies consider Digital Transformation to plan for new or better software, having a clear plan for a solution can be the difference between business growth and a business failure.

Why software projects fail and how to make them succeed

Problem: Ambiguous business objectives 

Less than 20 percent of business executives can clearly describe the requirement process of their business needs. With that statistic, if the company itself is unable to clearly define the requirements of their business needs, how can developers fully understand the specifications of the project? This ambiguity further also leaves the developers unsure of what features are essential. These expectations should be laid out from a very early stage but it is often not the case.

Solution: Engage key stakeholders early in the process

Software projects need to begin with a shared vision between executives, IT and all internal users of the software. Having a shared vision of the business objectives can mitigate confusion of the end goal. Resources like a Strategy Statement and Empathy Maps of your target audience are helpful tools to align this vision.

An Empathy Map defines your audience and helps to understand what drives user behavior
An Empathy Map defines your audience and helps to understand what drives user behavior
A Strategy Statement is used to define inputs and outputs to measure ROI.
A Strategy Statement is used to define inputs and outputs to measure ROI.

Problem: Unrealistic timelines and budget

One of the most common reasons why software projects fail is because of arbitrary deadlines and plans that are set without sufficient data. In the early phase of a project, time estimation is the best-educated guess because teams are still comprehending the project requirements. When they are not revisited regularly or resourced properly, it can be costly and time-consuming for the business.

Solution: Have a Solutions Plan

Without a clear plan, it is inevitable that developers will need to build and rebuild, which increases the project budget and extends the timeline. Before you begin any project, have a Solutions Plan that outlines the associated fixed costs and estimated timing (with buffers) to complete the project. It is not to say that when you set a timeline upfront, it will be followed to a T. You should revisit your plans and estimates frequently. During development, sprint reviews are set by the developer to review project milestones and check to see if the project is still on track.

A Solutions Plan offers a birds-eye view of the development scope.
A Solutions Plan offers a birds-eye view of the development scope.

Problem: Unclaimed accountability

When determining who is responsible for the software project, the answer should not be “all of us.” There will be many stakeholders and teams involved in the process but with too many cooks in the kitchen, there is confusion around roles and responsibilities. This confusion is often the greatest barrier and source of frustration to delivering successful software. 

Solution: Have a dedicated point of contact or team

Have a Dedicated Project Manager who is the go-to contact for the developer. It’s important to not assume that the dedicated contact needs to be in an IT role. Many organizations fall into thinking technology projects are exclusively an IT responsibility. Rather, it’s a joint responsibility between IT, business or sales team, operations and company executives. The dedicated resource manager should be the liaison between all these groups.

Once you determine a dedicated resource, it’s important to align expectations upfront with your development team so the build progresses smoothly toward your anticipated completion date. 

A dedicated resource for a development project must have a clear understanding of the business needs and goals.
A dedicated resource for a development project must have a clear understanding of the business needs and goals.

 

The software development process begins as early as the initial idea of creating a business software or mobile app. FUSION OF IDEAS’ Solution Mapping is a process to provide clear output so businesses can have a defined plan to participate in a development project or share with stakeholders. It makes for a much smoother and more effective design and evaluation process.

For more information, visit fusionofideas.com/mapping.

5 Ways to Future-Proof Your Business With Technology

The way we work has significantly changed in the past decade due to workplace trends and technology advancements. Most would agree that the most significant changes occurred in 2020 when the COVID-19 crisis brought about years of change in the way companies in all sectors and regions do business. Employers were caught off guard by the pandemic and scrambled to shift their workforce efficiently to a remote environment.

COVID-19 presented an opportunity – and a need – for many companies to build digital competencies. According to McKinsey Global, the impacts of the global crisis on businesses have led executives to recognize the strategic importance of technology as a critical component of an organization, and not just a source of cost efficiencies. 

Many employers are looking at digital transformation to future-proof their businesses. They are implementing technologies to make their organizations agile, so when unforeseen changes occur in the future, the business will be ready to adapt. 

Here are 5 ways to future-proof your business using modern technology:

1. Go paperless

Moving from hard copies to digital ones enables your employees to easily access everything at their fingertips. With a remote workforce, digital collaboration tools make it easier to conduct teamwork, plan and transfer information faster. Paperless accounting is huge and allows companies to send and receive invoices, payments, and handle general accounting functions without the risk of losing, misfiling, or mislabeling financial paperwork. Going paperless puts all of your content online, instead of having the bulk of documents in your workplace.  Plus, it’s good for the environment.

2. Reimagine the day-to-day work process

Nothing compares to having work processes that save time and increase efficiency. Business functions like onboarding new employees or resolving everyday customer-service issues are made up of hundreds of smaller processes, such as opening a service ticket or submitting a laptop request for approval. By identifying which existing processes would benefit from a digital overhaul, your employees will have an easier time keeping track of things and working more efficiently.

3. Leverage automation

Running a business in today’s competitive world requires gaining an advantage and operating efficiently. To support your growing business and unique process, businesses need the ability to integrate and automate critical applications whether they’re in the cloud, on-premise, or on-device. By leveraging an integration platform – such as Claris Connect – businesses can orchestrate tasks and create highly efficient, streamlined workflows. 

4. Invest in customized software for scalability

According to research by Accenture, one of the main reasons digital initiatives don’t succeed is that they don’t scale adequately beyond initial pilot projects. It’s important to plan how the technology you use will grow with your business. Customized software solutions can scale to account for the current and future requirements of your company.

5. Make cybersecurity a priority

The threat of cyber attacks against modern businesses is increasingly relevant both inside and outside of the office. Particularly in today’s work-from-home environment, employees are working in a variety of unsecured locations, presenting business-sensitive data to a plethora of potential cyber threats. Cybersecurity strategies should include antivirus, encryption, software updates, and vulnerability scanning on mobile devices as well as mobile-specific security awareness training for relevant employees. 

 

Even when you know future-proofing your business is essential, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the options offered on the market or get caught up in pursuing “the next big thing,” Before investing in or upgrading your business technology, it’s helpful to assess your current operations and identify the needs that most impact your organization.

FUSION OF IDEAS’ Solutions Mapping Services does just that. Whether you have a full technology plan but need help refining the strategy, or you need step-by-step guidance on how to begin your digital transformation journey, we can help. For a free initial consultation, contact us at 949.453.0740.

The HomePod mini and AirPods Max Brand Experience

Two new Apple products have taken the music listening experience by a storm: HomePod mini and AirPods Max. These devices feature room- and ear-filling sounds, and are the latest technology in the Apple product lineup. 

Doing what they do best, our production and design teams used our laser and direct printing process to create brand experiences for the devices.

HomePod mini

HomePod mini is the latest smart speaker that packs a punch with its unique design and powerful sound. The device can be personalized on the display top using direct color print on clear StealthArmor, a fitted protective film that offers a semi-permanent branding solution. 

AirPods Max

We use laser etch for permanent branding of artwork or your company logo directly on the aluminum cups on the over-ear headphones. For gifting, we offer a custom device sleeve that fits snugly over the original device box, personalized insert cards and custom gift wrap.

Check out the AirPods Max unboxing experience:

For more gifting ideas, visit www.fusionofideas.com/gifting.

2020 Holiday Gifting Highlights

Customized wireless earbuds…smart speakers…UV smartphone sanitizers… wireless phone chargers…

Personalized insert tags with thoughtful messages from company leadership…

Individual shipping of gifts directly to recipient’s doorsteps…

 

These are just some of the creative and thoughtful gifting projects we worked on over the holiday season. We continue to be inspired by our clients.

Click on the video below to see a few highlights from our 2020 holiday gifting season.

For more on our Corporate Gifting program, visit www.fusionofideas.com/gifting.

Tablets That Bring Hope to Teens

“…He wasn’t thinking about gaming or social media. He was just relieved to know that he would no longer have to struggle to find a way to complete his online school work.” 

Toys for Hospitalized Children gifts Apple iPad with customized content to a teen patient at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Mich.
Toys for Hospitalized Children gifts Apple iPad with customized content to a teen patient at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Mich. Photo credit: Toys for Hospitalized Children

This testimonial came from the director of child life services for Hurley Children’s Hospital in Michigan after gifting a personalized Apple iPad to an in-patient teen through the Toys for Hospitalized Children’s Tablet for Teens program.

In addition to the tablet itself, the teen was also gifted with a subscription to Hulu, which he can watch movies on his iPad to keep him entertained while in the hospital. He was thrilled to be able to easily access his school work and stay connected with friends. 

This year, Toys for Hospitalized Children is prepared to give several iPads to teens at Hurley Children’s Hospital. Home and lock screens are customized on each tablet with the organization’s eye-catching logo.

“We began the Tablets for Teens program last year and saw first-hand how much the teens’ moods and spirits were lifted through the gifts we brought,” said JJ Hecht, president at Toys for Hospitalized Children. “The teenage demographic can often be overlooked when it comes to visits and presents in the hospital. Because of this, we are inspired to give more and this year, we customize the tablets to make them more personal.”

Toys for Hospitalized Children has partnered with more than 70 hospitals throughout the country to bring happiness and healing to children suffering from illness. Through their Tablet for Teens program, the Flint, Mich.,-based nonprofit organization helps teenagers “cope through scary, painful or stressful experiences” through gifts that keep them entertained and connected.

Customized home and lock screens were customized on tablets to offer a personalized experience.
Customized home and lock screens were customized on tablets to offer a personalized experience.
Recipient of Toys for Hospitalized Children's Tablets for Teens program in 2019.
Recipient of Toys for Hospitalized Children’s Tablets for Teens program in 2019. Photo source: Toys for Hospitalized Children