From Here To More Certainty Great Aspirations

Great ASPirations

If the cost of setting up software scares the socks off you, ever thought about renting the software you need?
One way for small to medium sized businesses to access world-class technologies is by renting them. And in country where most of the businesses fall into this category, the idea of renting software could prove attractive. Renting is the idea behind the application service provider market – or ASP as it’s referred to – which uses the web to deliver business software.
Simply put, ASPs “rent” software instead of selling it. And they provide that software over the Internet. Think of it as the difference between building your own home and hiring contractor to manage the carpenters, electricians, bricklayers, plumbers, and painters. etc.
The ASP is the contractor who will rent and deliver to you online, range of software from spreadsheets, word processors, databases, accounting programmes, customer relationship management, or human resource applications. ASPs are groups of infrastructure providers and software vendors who come together to offer software for rent from any web browser.

What does this mean?
Instead of say, buying e-commerce software, you rent it. Instead of organising half dozen firms to supply computers, configure software, set up the network, design business processes and manage the system day to day, you turn the whole thing over to one company, which plans on launching it in matter of weeks. Once again the key is the Internet. You can get the business application you want from simple web browser.

ASP Benefits:
? Because it’s web based you can access applications from anywhere – office, home or on the road, as long as you have Internet access and computer with browser.
? It’s scalable. As you grow, you can scale up the application.
? Rented software can be up and running from 60 to 90 days for start up companies.

Unisys
Unisys was early off the mark this year with its ASP, partnering with independent software vendors. The Unisys ASP offers access to number of business application software streams – financial management, customer management, business management, e-knowledge tools and e-commerce. The Unisys ASP programme was designed with small-to-medium business in mind, making high-tech solutions affordable to the general business market.
The development of ASPs also brings into play partnerships. This one involved range of global applications software providers including Great Plains, QSP, Advanced management systems, StayinFront, and Genie Systems. Unisys network and business partners are Microsoft, Cisco, Universal Business Directories and Citrix, with telecommunications partnerships between Unisys, and Clear.
Esolutions, the joint venture between Microsoft, Telecom NZ and EDS, also runs an ASP offering Safecom security package, Datacom NettPay payroll application, and Business Xchange eProcurement system as well as fax and web hosting services. An Internet billing solution and online marketing tools are also in the wings.
by Sherrill Tapsell

Partnering

If running IT systems isn’t your core activity, you’re going to need help.
The trend, says International Data Corporation’s Merv Langby, will be to partner with specialists, people who don’t just install few boxes and wires and walk out again, but who understand business processes and strategy and will work as partners. The Department of Conservation recently won acclaim not only for its IT overhaul, but for its partnering programme with Fujitsu, which now essentially runs IT services for them.
The focus on getting all the elements of partnership are so critical to Fujitsu managing director Bill Beale that they’ve developed it as formal process.
The problem he says is that when you define your project, and rush off to get it started, you leave the relationship side as implicit. Teasing out people’s values and objectives often seems bit too airy fairy he adds. But think what could happen if the relationship breaks down – you might have to start the whole project over again.
So the key to partnership for Beale is clear understanding of each partner’s values, how they will communicate and how they will enhance their relationship at the early stages of the project.
Key staff from Fujitsu and DOC took part in partnering workshop to set out framework for their relationship, one which was flexible and could be changed as circumstances changed. “We said we’ll escalate issues quickly and without penalty. We’re going to tell the truth about things. We’re going to deal with trust and integrity.
“Then we did the scenario thing – we said what if in January 2000 Y2K had put the hut booking system down, we had people all over the place and we don’t know where we are – what’ll we do? Who will you talk to? What do we do? So we worked out how we’ll behave. This scenario didn’t happen of course, but should it have, we knew what would happen because we’d gone through it. That’s the establishment phrase.
“Then you have scoring process, which says every couple of months the key people involved in the relationship score it against what they’d agreed.
“If something doesn’t score well, and indicates an aspect of the relationship is lousy, you uncover it and ask what’s going on. It might be couple of people not getting on, or complete misunderstanding about the connection between the overall objective and the project – or someone who’s got different agenda.”

Good project management
“Those things happen in life and every project pops them out, and you ask how will we deal with it.” However, forming good relationship foundation isn’t substitute for good project management, he says. “You’ll always need good project management and tangibles, and good contract.”

Continual improvement
“The real value of good working partnership is, when you’re so involved in an organisation you start to contribute to it. There’s sense that both parties can say ?Here are some things we can do better’, rather than saying ?this is what we agreed to deliver six months ago to this level.’ If you take this approach then you’re shutting down the opportunity for lot of learning and cooperative stuff that can happen.
“There’s lot of people – change that goes on that both organisations have to work together on. If we simply turned up and said our instructions are to turn up at 9am, here’s your PC and spanner to put it in with or said ?sorry mate, that’s nothing to do with me, I’m just here to plug the PC in.’
“But we’re involved in helping training and implementation and acceptance of change in organisations, so we have to understand the culture as well. One of the thing that’s been valuable for us, is that we’ve found for our people in the partnership team – who come from different parts of the organisation – it’s the time that they work together most effectively as well.”
by Sherrill Tapsell

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