It’s a business owner’s worst nightmare: You invest time, money, and resources into building mission-critical business applications to suddenly find your organization without a safety net. Maybe your in-house developer finds a better opportunity or your external vendor will no longer support your implementation. Either way, all that investment is suddenly in jeopardy, as is the foundation of how you run your teams, or even your whole business.

Unfortunately, we often get these kinds of calls. It’s easy for business leaders to feel backed into a corner in this scenario, when their operations are dependent on a technology they don’t have expertise in. To get to the bottom of the situation, we have to start by understanding where you are and what you need to cause the least disruption to your business.

What is your timeline?

Of course, the more time we have to work the better, but it’s essential to understand exactly how much time we have. If it’s an employee who’s given notice, we likely have less than two weeks to involve them (the ideal situation) and utilize their knowledge to understand exactly what we’re working with. Tapping into existing expertise while it’s still available is crucial, and may even warrant asking your employee for an hourly consultation agreement past their departure should questions arise. Or if an external vendor is sunsetting their support, it’s helpful to know when we need to help you move that support in house or determine a new solution.

What is your level of access?

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In the ideal scenario, you’ll have access to the application’s code base and development environments. If not, there are a number of ways to triage the situation. For instance, can we work with your developer or conduct an audit of the software to learn more about it? Through our experience in similar situations, we’ve developed a range of tips and techniques if there are issues with access. But it’s best to understand from the start what techniques we’ll need and how much access we’ll get.

What exactly are you working with?

Is there existing documentation? Functionality that’s custom to your company? Anything else we should know about your software? Filling in the holes can help us figure out the best way forward to ensure that your essential business application is supported as quickly as possible.

Once we have an understanding of these variables, we can recommend a strategy to de-risk the current situation, gain an understanding of the application quickly, and get into a position to serve your business’ needs. This can include:

  • Auditing your current application to understand its architecture, code, and functionality and identify potential risk areas.
  • Defining requirements for your existing application in order to document how it should work.
  • Developing test cases and a quality assurance process to ensure that future updates won’t interrupt your application’s functionality.
  • Standing up a team to provide ongoing maintenance, support, and continuous improvement of the application.
  • Working with your development team, if you have one, to bring process, documentation, and rigor to the application in house moving forward.

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While it’s easy to feel out of control when you lose support for your critical software, a systematic documentation process can help provide support and stability for your organization. Even better, it will ensure that your application will keep supporting your business goals into the future.

Michael Montecuollo
Michael Montecuollo
Director of User Experience & Design
03.01. 2021
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