As organizations across the IT channel grow, many find themselves in an all too common quandary. When it comes to managing service contract lifecycles in multi-tiered channel environments, what tool(s) will help to unify data and protect information security while promoting efficiency and maximizing recurring service revenue opportunity? Should organizations use a commercial, off-the-shelf (OTS) product or partner with a third party vendor to develop a custom solution from the ground up?
While commercial OTS software is often the first to be considered, these simple solutions can be limited in terms of functionality and scalability. On one hand, commercial products can be deployed quickly and might seem like the best option for organizations lacking robust, internal technical departments. But trying to integrate pre-packaged tools with existing infrastructure and business applications can be like fitting a square peg into a round hole – making adoption both costly and cumbersome – a major challenge for most organizations.
For IT providers pulling data from disparate sources, a custom-built tool provides the flexibility to tailor solutions around precise business needs and policies. From cost savings to greater personalization, custom solutions can offer numerous advantages to organizations with complex data systems and functional requirements.
Why the IT channel is turning to custom software for service contract lifecycle management
There are several signs an organization is ready to make the switch from an off-the-shelf product to a uniquely tailored service contract management solution. Organizations are likely ready for a new solution if:
- Multiple business needs are not being fulfilled with commercially available systems, leaving organizations to invest regularly in add-ons to perform day-to-day activities
- Internal teams consistently work around existing software and make ‘boutique’ adjustments to get new products to work with legacy systems
- The software currently used is not effective in increasing renewal revenues and providing outside users, such as downline customers, access to data
- Existing systems, whether OTS or internally built, prevent organizations from harnessing existing data to identify up-sell and cross-sell opportunity
With custom software, organizations can deploy solutions that meet specialized requirements and support departmental processes. But it’s important to recognize that custom solutions are not the same as adding extra script codes to existing maintenance solutions. Unlike OTS products, custom developments start with conversations between key stakeholders across the business to develop a blueprint which will outline in detail the exact scope and precise business requirements of a new solution.
In addition to greater flexibility, custom solutions like Managed Maintenance’s ONEview provide clearer visibility and analytics into the business’ entire channel operations. As contract management cycles become increasingly complex, businesses should consider embracing a centralized solution that allows them to address 100 percent of available revenue opportunity.
How to determine if a tailored solution is right for your organization:
- Do you currently use multiple software solutions to manage your daily operations? Using more than one tool to conduct day-to-day tasks can quickly drive up costs and create inefficiencies. With a tailored solution, businesses can consolidate features from multiple data repositories into one integrated system.
- Do you have specialized information security and privacy concerns? For many IT providers, a tool to manage customer information, like asset and contract data, will require a solution that offers the ability to customize and restrict user access and permissions across channel tiers. Having that kind of custom security is not typical of an OTS product, and having the ability to share this data with your downline is a huge differentiator.
- Do you have the resources available to invest in a solution? Whether you choose to purchase an OTS product or build a solution designed with your specific needs in mind, budget is (understandably) a primary concern. Prior to development, you must be able to justify the cost of investing as well as the time it would take to architect a solution instead of using a commercial tool.
Custom solutions arm all organizations across the IT channel with a tool that fits their exact specifications and addresses specific needs while connecting employees, customers and partners. While simple OTS products may work for organizations managing only a handful of contracts, they are no match for companies operating in a multi-tiered contract ecosystem.
Businesses with complex service channels often find they cannot afford to not invest in a customized solution – one that can meet the growing needs of their business, and their downline channel. As your organization grows and business operations become more sophisticated, a custom development ensures your contract management software is built to work within an already established infrastructure while reducing costs and increasing overall efficiency. With custom solutions like MMI’s ONEview renewal management and quoting application, organizations can stay ahead of competitors in the channel, while maximizing recurring service revenues.