In today's fast-paced business environment, your enterprise application strategy is critical to staying competitive. With the rapid pace of technological change, it's important for organizations to stay ahead of the curve and ensure that their IT infrastructure is up-to-date, secure, and optimized for performance.
A well-designed enterprise application strategy can help organizations streamline operations, improve efficiency, and catapult themselves into a “digital transformation.” But taking your business from old to new can seem daunting, especially when keeping in mind factors like enterprise quality assurance, so let’s break it down a little.
The Unique Challenges Of Enterprise Application Implementation
Enterprise businesses face unique challenges when implementing application strategies, especially when you compare them to small businesses or startups.
- Complex existing systems - Enterprise businesses often have complex and intricate IT systems that have been built up over time. These systems can make it difficult to integrate new applications or require significant modifications to work with new technologies.
- Integration with legacy applications - Many enterprise businesses still rely on legacy applications critical to their operations. Integrating new applications with these legacy systems can be a significant challenge, especially if the new applications are designed with modern technologies that don’t mesh so well with older systems.
- Data security concerns - Enterprise businesses often handle large volumes of sensitive data, and ensuring the security of that data is critical. Implementing new applications can increase the risk of data breaches or cyber-attacks if proper security measures are not in place.
- High cost of implementation - While enterprise businesses typically have larger budgets than small businesses, implementing new applications can still be a fiscal headache. Licensing new software, purchasing hardware, and hiring specialized personnel can all add up quickly.
- Scalability challenges - Enterprise businesses typically have large user bases, and ensuring that new applications can scale to meet that demand can be a significant challenge. Poorly-designed applications may not be able to handle the volume of users, leading to poor performance and decreased productivity.
So, how can a solid strategic plan help you navigate these challenges? Let’s go over some of the benefits.
Benefits Of Solidifying Your Application & Quality Assurance Strategy
Improved productivity and efficiency
Implementing a solid strategy is the first step to helping organizations adapt to change and stay competitive. The most readily apparent benefit often comes in the form of increased productivity and a bump in efficiency.
For example, implementing a customer relationship management (CRM) system can help sales teams manage leads more effectively and reduce the time spent on administrative tasks.
Enhanced customer experience
When you improve your systems and operational efficiency and design with the end-user in mind, the customer experience naturally benefits as a result. For example, implementing a user-friendly e-commerce platform can make it easier for customers to browse and purchase products, leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Cost is always a powerful motivator when it comes to making a change in your organization. Once implemented, an application strategy can help reduce costs in various ways, such as automating tasks, streamlining processes, and reducing the need for manual labor. For example, implementing an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system can help manage inventory and reduce the costs associated with overstocking or stockouts.
Improved data security
With cyber attacks and data breaches becoming more prevalent every year, improving your data security should be a main priority. The good news is that Enterprise applications can provide features such as user access controls, data encryption, and activity monitoring to help reduce your risk of security breaches and cybercrime.
How To Build A Successful Application Strategy In 2023
Implementing a successful enterprise application strategy is not as daunting as it sounds. On that same note, it shouldn’t be taken lightly either. Your approach to building out your processes and gaining an edge over your competitors can be broken down into a few steps.
1. Set target objectives
Before embarking on an application strategy, it's vital to set clear objectives that align with your business goals.
Determine what your organization's overall goals are and how they can be supported by an application strategy. For example, if the goal is to increase revenue, an application strategy might focus on improving customer engagement and expanding the customer base.
Next, establish specific criteria and measurable targets and determine which objectives are most important so you can prioritize them accordingly, ensuring that resources are allocated appropriately and that the most critical goals are addressed first.
2. Solidify roles and responsibilities
Once you've established your target objectives, the next step is to solidify the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved.
Start by determining who the key stakeholders are in the application strategy, including project sponsors, business owners, and technical leads. Establish clear roles and responsibilities for each stakeholder, such as overseeing the development process, testing, enterprise quality assurance, or providing feedback and guidance.
Develop clear decision-making processes for the application strategy and determine who has final decision-making authority, how decisions will be made, and how conflicts will be resolved.
Additionally, establish accountability for each stakeholder's responsibilities. This might include establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure progress and ensuring that team members are held accountable for meeting their targets.
3. Take inventory & audit existing applications
Before implementing a new application strategy, you’ll want to take stock of the applications that are currently in use in your organization.
To do this, create a comprehensive list of all applications currently in use across the organization. Don’t forget to look at both enterprise-level applications and department-specific applications.
Next, categorize applications based on their purpose, level of importance, and relevance to the organization's goals. Evaluating the performance of each application, including its speed, reliability, and ease of use, will help identify areas for improvement and determine whether a new application strategy is needed.
While you’re at it, you’ll also have a chance to identify applications that are redundant or have overlapping functions, giving you more opportunities to reduce costs and consolidate.
4. Establish compliance requirements
Compliance with relevant regulations and standards is critical for every organization. Before getting started, you need to determine which regulations and standards are relevant to your organization, such as HIPAA for healthcare organizations, or data privacy regulations such as GDPR or CCPA.
Once you know which regulations apply to your organization, ensure that new applications are designed with compliance in mind from the outset. This might include building features such as access controls, data encryption, or audit trails.
Ensuring compliance is absolutely vital for your enterprise quality assurance, as non-compliance can lead to serious legal or financial penalties.
5. Implement new technology or optimize the existing tech?
This critical question is also known as the “build vs. buy” decision, and there are a few pros and cons to each side.
Building applications in-house can be expensive, as it requires hiring specialized personnel and dedicating resources to the development process. Purchasing pre-built solutions or migrating to the cloud may be more cost-effective in the short term, but may also come with ongoing licensing costs.
You can’t forget about long-term maintenance, either. Building applications in-house requires ongoing maintenance and support, which can be time-consuming and costly. On the other hand, using SaaS or cloud services comes with ongoing maintenance and support services, helping to reduce these costs. You’ll need to dig into the financial ins and outs of each method before diving in.
Customization is another area to consider. Building applications in-house allows for greater customization and control over the application's functionality and design, whereas purchasing pre-built solutions limits your ability to customize to your specific needs.
6. Use Machine Learning and AI
Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) are transforming the tech world right now, and their effect on application resource management is substantial. You want to stay on the cutting edge and keep your business ahead of the curve when it comes to new technologies, but you also want to avoid misstepping and wasting valuable time.
So, to achieve the best results, you need to take a goal-first approach. In other words, prioritize the end goal and make sure you’re staying true to your original objectives–don’t just shoehorn ML and AI into your application where it doesn’t fit.
Involve software development teams from the outset. This ensures that the technology is integrated seamlessly with existing systems and meets the needs of end-users. Going back to the “build vs. buy” discussion, you also need to consider the implications of implementing your own ML solution or outsourcing.
Outsourcing machine learning development can often be more cost-effective and strategic than hiring an in-house team, and partnering with outside experts can bring in specialized knowledge and expertise, while also freeing up internal resources for other tasks.
7. Determine maintenance and review schedule
The final component of your enterprise application strategy, and arguably one of the most vital, is maintaining and updating your applications. To ensure their ongoing effectiveness and usefulness to the organization, you’ll need to create an enterprise quality assurance maintenance and review schedule that doesn’t leave any stone unturned.
Start by establishing a maintenance schedule. Determine how often each application should be reviewed and updated, taking into account factors like the level of usage, the complexity of the application, and the rate of change in the industry.
Don’t forget to continue monitoring the security of your applications to ensure that they remain secure and compliant with relevant regulations and standards, and that your application strategy is crushing your KPIs exactly as you planned.
A well-designed application strategy can be a game-changer for organizations looking to stay competitive in today's fast-paced business environment.
Embracing the digital transformation might seem like a daunting task, but following a tried-and-tested process can help you navigate the transition more confidently.
Schedule a call with MSH today, to find out how you can leverage our leading edge tools and processes to streamline your operations, improve your enterprise quality assurance, and scale your IT infrastructure for the modern age.