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Get your ducks in a row for the Next Generation

By William Mooney, Posted on November 11, 2008 at 10:14 pm

At the risk of dating myself, I recall several years ago seeing some of our customers (who were there when I started at Synergex) entering retirement and sailing off into the sunset. I got a bit nostalgic, as many of these people really took me under their wings and showed me the ropes when I first entered this field. At the same time, I was excited to begin new relationships with their successors — the Next Generation — who would be working with me as they carried on the legacy of their predecessors. What I didn’t consider then, but have since witnessed time and time again, is how important it is to prepare one’s business applications for the Next Generation. Passing the torch involves more than handing down a title and a business plan. It means getting all your ducks neatly in a row so the next person is sure to make the RIGHT decisions to best support and sustain the business.

The decision makers at our customer sites come in all shapes and sizes: some are executives, some are application users, and some are developers. For most of our existence, we have focused on the developer. After all, it is the developers we are most in contact with, and most, if not all, of our customers’ original owners and executives were developers. And we’ve been very successful at addressing their needs and providing them an exceptional array of development tools to get the job done. Our integrated Workbench, OO language, Java/.NET Integration, and SQL access to SQL Server, Oracle, and MySQL are meeting and exceeding their requirements. And many of the developer decision makers, including those in the Next Generation, have done some amazing things to advance their Synergy/DE-based applications to meet current look-and-feel demands while maximizing their very rich and proven business logic.

It is another group of Next Generation decision makers that can wreak major havoc on a business. It is the new executives who decide to replace everything because the existing application isn’t pretty enough. They expect a Windows or GUI-based system, and they are willing to pay for it. It doesn’t matter that the existing application is the most robust and appropriate solution to run their company, and that their employees are highly productive because they know the application inside and out. Nope, if it’s not <insert whatever they had at the last place or whatever they think is the latest thing>, it must go. Because some of these Next Generation decision makers don’t know about the history of the application, the years of customizations, the value of the rich and proven business logic, they decide to throw it out and start with some name-brand, high-end system that costs lots of money, requires new resources (and often makes the current ones obsolete), takes forever to implement and customize (and never achieves the functionality of the original application anyway), and in the end demolishes their business processes — just because the application looks good. We’ve seen companies fold after spending millions down this road. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good-looking application too. But functionality is king, followed by look and feel, not the other way around. Fortunately, with Synergy/DE you can have both.

So what do you do to avoid this fate? Simple. Get your application ready for the Next Generation. It’s much easier to add a new front end to proven business logic than the other way around. You wouldn’t consider tearing down your house if you didn’t like its curb appeal, would you? Get your application current, make it look modern, give it all the look and feel that new Next Generation executives might demand, before they have the chance to come in, take one look, and throw it (and all of your intellectual capital) out because the application doesn’t look like they think it should. Don’t get caught off-guard with an outdated application: Advance it to meet the needs of the Next Generation!

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