Do you have processes in place to perform application assessments of existing systems before additional purchasing decisions are made? One could argue that it’s always a good time for an assessment. You could be making major upgrades to your invoice processing system, the backbone of your call center or your logistics program. All of these are core systems that your company will rely upon for the next five to 10 years, and it’s important they are robust and secure enough to be maintained over time.
Using Application Assessments Before Signing Vendor SLAs
Once your team has shortlisted two or three software vendors and it’s been confirmed they fit your specific needs, it’s important to note if software quality standards are covered by the contract. If the system, or application updates, delivered by the vendor fail in production, there will be a major impact on your business – loss of revenue, customer satisfaction, time to fix issues, and more.
You need to rest assured that the vendor you choose is well structured to respond to crises as well as your future, ongoing modernization needs. As a result, we recommend that your application assessments are two-fold:
- A technical assessment should analyze source code and application architectures to evaluate software quality and any associated risks.
- A development processes assessment should identify the maturity level of the development organization and its ability to deliver within the SLA consistently over time.
We frequently hear clients say: “Our business is complex enough without having to deal with technology issues. It is critical to select partners we know can help manage our technology for us.”
The good news is that modern vendors should see assessments as an opportunity to demonstrate the maturity of their processes and the level of their software quality standards over their competitors. If you see a vendor hesitating to participate in due diligence assessments, it’s safe to say they are probably not the right partner for you.
Why You Should Care About Application Assessments
Benchmarking software quality and ensuring it can be sustained – and hopefully improved – is a huge benefit of application assessments. Getting an objective view of application architecture and code characteristics based on industry-wide standards can only help you make better decisions across the board.
I’ve heard customers say on multiple occasions: “We thought we were about to buy a state-of-the-art logistics system, but after the assessment we realized it was more obsolete than our current one.”
Based on the data generated from application assessments, your teams are armed with real-time analytics on current code quality, the maturity of development processes being used and requirements for technical support. All these findings also help predict future quality.
If improvements are required, the assessment can help generate an action plan detailing priorities and highlighting where changes need to be made in the code. This also has trickle-down benefits for application security and risk management initiatives.
Application Assessments Support Ongoing Modernization
Too often, companies create an attractive system (i.e. efficient, elegant and functional), but they reach the limits of what they are able to manage with existing, internal resources.
In a significant number of these cases, the applications are based on obsolete technologies that are incredibly difficult to secure, or the architecture has become so complex that adding new features becomes essentially impossible. In other cases, development processes are absent, inappropriate or unscalable, so the vendor is unable to maintain standard software quality levels over time.
Adopting a model that supports ongoing application assessments can only lend visibility into modernization efforts, making them more practical, objective and simple to execute. Getting below the surface of “nice-looking” applications to see what’s actually going on will help you make productive changes to development processes, foster transparent vendor relationships and support the longevity of critical IT systems.
Erik Oltmans, an Associate Partner from EY, Netherlands, spoke at the Software Intelligence Forum on how the consulting behemoth uses Software Intelligence in its Transaction Advisory services.
Erik describes the changing landscape of M & A. Besides the financial and commercial aspects, PE firms now equally value technical assessments, especially for targets with significant software assets. He goes on to detail how CAST Highlight makes these assessments possible with limited access to the targetâ€™s systems, customized quality metrics, and liability implications of open source components - all three that are critical for an M&A due diligence.