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Following Through: The Risks of Overlooking Post-Launch Support in Digital Transformation

 

What’s the single biggest mistake that organizations make when they’re planning out their digital transformation efforts? If you guessed, “failing to plan for the post-launch future,” you’re at the head of the class.

All too often, businesses that move to the cloud and/or implement a new ERP system see it as a process with a finish line — and a pot of gold to reward them for their efforts when they get there.

While launching is indeed a significant milestone worth celebrating, it really marks the start of something, not the finish. It’s when you start to reap the rewards of your efforts, but it’s also the beginning of an ongoing process of care, maintenance, and learning. When organizations try to save money by cutting corners on that process, the rewards start to shrivel up, and they end up spending more money in the long run.

Staying the Course for Success

One of the first lessons you learn about bowling is that you have to follow through: your hand and arm have to continue the upward motion after you let go of the ball. If you don’t think beyond the moment when you release the ball, you may very well be headed for the gutter.

Following through is every bit just as important when it comes to digital transformation. You need to continue that upward motion and think beyond the release.

Businesses invest a lot of resources in their digital transformation efforts. By the time they get to launch, they can feel like they’ve exhausted their budgets and their stamina. They may also feel like they’re familiar enough with the new system to fly solo and just let things take their course for a while as they focus on other issues. But even if you’re in the 10th frame and your arm is sore and you’re thinking about dinner, you still need to follow through.

Let’s talk about why it’s so important to have a post-launch plan — and the substantial risks and pitfalls you face when you don’t.

 

Why You Need Post-Launch Support — And What Can Go Wrong Without It

Failing to protect your investment by investing in post-launch support services will always come back to bite you. You need an experienced and reliable partner by your side to make sure everything keeps running smoothly and that you stay up to date with the latest software releases. Here are four reasons why:

1. Avoiding Downtime

Probably the biggest risk businesses face when they don’t have proper, ongoing support in place is system downtime. The costs of downtime are well-known: Research from 2021 found that hourly downtime costs can reach into the millions of dollars, with 91% of large enterprises reporting that a single hour of downtime averages more than $300,000 in lost business, disruptions to productivity, and remediation efforts. And that’s before getting into the damage done by loss of data, diminished customer confidence, vulnerability to legal action, and other avoidable consequences.

The best fix for downtime is to prevent it from happening with steady, expert care and maintenance — the proverbial “apple a day.” And when the unforeseen happens — weather-related or natural disasters, human error, security breaches — having a solid disaster recovery plan in place is the key to staying resilient and bouncing back fast.

The irony is that sometimes organizations skimp on support to save money, only to experience downtime that costs them far more than the support that Columbus provides.

 

2. Staying Evergreen

Microsoft’s evergreen strategy provides four updates each year, two of which are required. If you don’t have a release management plan in place, the results can be catastrophic. There’s a lot of customization and integration involved, and without the right support, things can get broken easily.

Columbus can take the pain out of this process for you. We bring our familiarity with your systems as well as our experience working with other clients to bear on your behalf. We wade through the complex verbiage in the release notes so you don’t have to, and we translate them into an understandable, digestible format.

Then we go a step further and compare the new release to your customizations, your optimizations, and your integrations, and we identify any relevant risks.

After applying a new release we test everything carefully to make sure nothing’s broken, and then we help you get the most out of new tools, capabilities, and features.

We find that organizations often aren’t familiar with the evergreen release process and haven’t planned for it. And that unpreparedness can be unexpectedly expensive.

So to make the whole process more manageable, we offer clients a plan based around two updates a year — and then allow them to pay it out on a monthly basis.

 

3. Ensuring Adoption and Know-How

To get the best return on your investment, your team needs to be fully trained on the system and understand how to use its tools and features to boost their productivity and expand their capabilities.

If your team members don’t adopt those tools because they don’t know how to use them — or worse, don’t see the benefit of using them — you’ll be losing ground you should be gaining.

Another major post-launch trap is relying on a “train the trainer” model — training team members on the system at launch time, and then expecting them to pass along system knowledge to new hires and less-experienced team members as they go.

Picture a line of people holding water glasses. The first person has a full glass and pours it into the empty glass of the next person, and so on down the line. Each time a little bit of water is spilled, or doesn’t make it out of the previous glass. How long before the glass is mostly empty?

Employee turnover is a fact of life, and as expert employees leave they can take expertise with them that never gets replaced. Never mind the fact that talented IT staff are in short supply these days, and filling vacancies can take longer than usual.

That’s why you need not only regular, ongoing training to make sure all team members are as up to date as your software is, but also an expert resource like Columbus that you can call on at any time to fill in any knowledge gaps, diagnose problems, and provide solutions.

Columbus can be there 24/7 to take the pressure off your internal IT staff, removing obstacles for them and freeing them up to focus on other tasks.

 

4. Maximizing the Rewards — And Pulling Ahead of the Competition

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is such a huge system that no single developer can be familiar with every part of it. That why it helps to be able to draw on the diverse expertise of Columbus’s team, with hundreds of members worldwide who collectively understand every quirk of the system.

D365 offers you a panoply of possibilities that require specialized knowledge to deploy strategically and successfully. This is the key to not just keeping up with your competition, but leapfrogging ahead of them, even if their systems are comparable to yours. If you’ve both got the same vehicle, then knowing how to drive it more capably is what will help you pull ahead in the race.

 

Want to learn more about how Columbus Managed Services can boost your business while minimizing friction and downtime? Reach out today.

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