Getting setup with a new software system can seem like a daunting and time-consuming task. First you have to ensure your system is compatible and proceed with a lengthy installation process. This is far too much for most, so companies will regularly seek the assistance of professionals to complete the work.
As remote work becomes more commonplace, companies are taking advantage of being able to fully complete a software installation without even stepping on-site. This is a great time saver for all involved but it’s important to know how to deploy software remotely and when remote installations are appropriate.
Adam Bluemner lives in this world of remote work which is why we picked his brain about the recent developments he has seen and how this is affecting software and internet businesses worldwide.
To better understand what is involved in a remote software installation and how it can apply to your line of work, read on for our interview with Adam.
1. How has remote software installations progressed over recent years? Is it more commonplace?
When it comes to the implementation of major business software systems – such as accounting, ERP, supply chain, CRM, or HRIS – things have changed fairly dramatically over the last decade or so.
Our company (Find Accounting Software) provides a software matching service. We speak with thousands of software buyers each year. Back in 2001, only about 4% of the companies we spoke to indicated it was totally unimportant where their software integration provider was located. Now in 2014, 60% of the buyers we talk to say location is not a relevant factor to consider in our software matching process.
The reason more than half of the buyers of major business software systems are telling us they don’t need a local provider is simple: remote implementation has become a very viable option.
2. What value are companies creating for themselves by moving more towards remote software installations?
The reason that remote implementations are possible – even for very complex systems – is due to two primary factors.
First, Internet bandwidth has been commoditized and is now very inexpensive. Every business has access to cheap, fast Internet connectivity.
Secondly, companies like Mikogo are developing sophisticated and easy to use remote access solutions–allowing 3rd party consultants to handle implementation tasks with little additional effort beyond what they’d experience from within the local network.
When you talk about the value of remote implementations, a few C’s come to mind. Choice is greatly expanded when you aren’t limited to just considering the software options represented by local firms. The option to remotely implement software can also lower costs, as there’s no need to pay expensive consulting travel fees and expanding the range of options to consider helps introduce price competition for your business. Finally, remote implementations can make the process more convenient for everyone involved, as taking the need to be onsite out of the equation can relax some of the challenges related to scheduling.
3. A common concern about new technologies for many people is whether they have the right skills. What additional skills are required for remote software installations compared to being on-site?
3rd party system integrators exist because they provide a technical skill set that’s tough to replace in-house. They’ll have set up remote access to client networks many, many times before in order to deploy their systems and it’s something they’ll be able to walk even technical novices through with ease.
The more relevant skills to consider with relation to remote implementations are project management skills. An informal approach to communication with your system integrator works okay if they’re onsite. If you are working with a provider remotely, you’ll require a bit more structure in the communication and that is where project management skills come to bear.
4. Most people want a professional to assist with the setup of new software so they have someone to show them how it works after. How is this achieved remotely?
Generally, what software vendors are providing in the way of training isn’t so much an education on how to do a particular business task, but how to do it on their program.
Whether a consultant is sitting next to your or you are engaged in a remote screen sharing session, the net effect is the same. The vendor is walking you through various screens and talking you through some of the key commands required to manage particular business processes.
Screen sharing provides an easy way for system users and consultants to very quickly look at the same interface. In fact, some of the tools that Mikogo and other remote access vendors supply in terms of session recording and whiteboarding can yield a superior experience that can be revisited in the future as needed. Of course similar utilities exist that can be leveraged for onsite training, but remote screen sharing software often has them built right into them.
5. Finally, how can a company know if a remote software deployment is right for them?
Here’s the thing, when I talk to software buyers who are attracted to the idea of working with a local provider, the thing that comes up more than other is the relationship angle. Very frequently, I’ll hear some version of “I want to be able to sit down and meet face-to-face.” Certainly, there is value in that.
The question inevitably becomes, now that there’s the technical capability to facilitate remote implementations, how does the value of working in-person compare to the value of increased choice and convenience and potentially lower costs available via working with an integrator who isn’t geographically close? Generally, it’s a question whose answer will reveal itself in the process of examining your options and seeing if expanding the field to include remote integrators really does yield increased choice and price competition.