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Software and Applications Planning Guide for 2017

It’s that time time of year again, when IT teams assess the landscape of software and applications to plan their strategy and budget for 2017. If you’re an IT manager, you might be in the process of gathering data – and if you haven’t started, you’ll probably want to jump on this very soon.

Not sure where to dive in? Here are a handful of areas to focus on – with questions that can help guide you in the right direction.

Usage and Adoption

This is a solid place to start. These questions will give you the hard numbers on usage, and the data should be easy to collect. If possible, you’ll want to take a look at trends over time – this allows you to spot interesting correlations, like adoption suddenly dropping on one app but rapidly increasing with another. This helps to paint the picture of where you’ll be adding or reducing licenses at renewal time.

  • How many users are logging into our apps and what does that number look like over time?
  • How does that number compare to how many licenses we’ve purchased?
  • What are the headcount projections for 2017 and what’s the estimated impact on licensing?

Meeting Business Needs

This is your next major area of assessment. You’ll want to ensure your plan for 2017 covers what the business itself needs from IT. If this isn’t on your radar – ask yourself “why not?” It never hurts to get the lay of the land from other departments, and it might lead to some exciting new opportunities for your team.

  • Is the business satisfied with the tools and technology we provide?
  • Are our executives satisfied with the tools for company-wide communication and collaboration?
  • Do we have any major business needs now – or that we’re anticipating to hit next year – that we’re not currently solving?
  • For apps heavily utilized by the business, what do their product roadmaps look like? Is their vision for the future aligned with where we want to go?
  • Did any of our vendors have a major outage or security event this year? Are we satisfied with how they responded to those events, or should we look elsewhere?

Support and Maintenance for IT

This is an area for you and the rest of your IT team to discuss and review together.

If your vendor keeps repeating phrases like “this will be fixed in our next release” or “you’ll need to upgrade to fix that issue,” you may want to evaluate the landscape of other options. Chances are, you’ll keep hearing those excuses next year. And if you’re moving on-prem software to the cloud, you’ll enjoy your planning exercise later in the year, when you’ll determine what to do with the time you’ve just freed up for your team.

  • Are we satisfied with the support we’re getting from our vendors? If not, would buying a premium support package make sense for us – and do we have the money to do so?
  • Are we wasting cycles on the same support calls for problems our vendor isn’t solving?
  • Do we have any on-prem software we’d want to consider moving to the cloud?

Budget

This is straightforward and ultimately comes down to your budget for 2017. You may want to do new things, but you may not have the money to do so. However, if you take a holistic view of the landscape, you may find it makes sense to replace apps that aren’t being adopted with something new that could improve problem areas.

Additionally, this will greatly assist you with the homework necessary for the renewals and negotiations themselves. If your vendor surprises you with higher numbers, or even a restructured licensing model which boils down to paying more for the same thing, you’ll be prepared.

  • What did we spend last year for our licensing and maintenance? What about the year before that?
  • What percent of increase are we expecting?
  • Will our budget allow us to do what we’d like to do, or will we need to make tradeoffs or cuts?

User Satisfaction

I’ve intentionally saved this section for last, because unfortunately, many IT teams are so busy with the fundamentals of firefighting that this question may come last – if at all. If you get this far with your 2017 planning, chances are high that your team is regularly commended for providing stellar support. Ironically, the cycle of IT firefighting and dealing with apps that consistently sink time to support is to blame for being in this position. By taking the time to assess the landscape and ask these two questions, you can start the process of evaluating other tools that may actually save you time, energy and money down the road.

  • Which apps are our users utilizing “in the wild” and do we want to do anything about that?
  • Are our users happy with the apps we’ve provided? If not, what are the pain points, and how can we address them?

If just the thought of your company’s mountain of disparate apps and platforms gives you a headache – or maybe you want to learn about how to provide a more integrated experience – check out our ebook: From Fragmentation to Connection. It’s broken up by role and has some great ideas on how to unite your systems and empower your IT team.