Being a veteran traveler, I've seen my share of crowded airports, crowded planes and cramped hotel lobbys. And at some point in these travels, one will engage in polite chit-chat with other fellow travelers stuck in the same line. I'm often asked what I do for a living? Normally, I mention that I work with ERP application hosting, and after asking the same, we each smile, and that's that. However, for the past year or so, I've been surprised to find myself involved in deeper discussions on how ERP outsourcing works, and some pointers on selecting a hosting provider.
Inevitably my answer will depend on whether they currently have ERP packages installed, or are selecting a new vendor. For someone selecting a new ERP system, managing these applications often require new staff, additional training for existing staff, and potentially new equipment. These can be major expenses that most companies can’t afford to provide, especially in today’s tough economy. Even the veteran ERP players, with years of experience with a specific package, are finding with today’s labor cutbacks their IT Department are woefully short-staffed, and missing some key technology skill sets.
So, I thought I'd present my Top-5 most frequently asked questions around Application Hosting Services:
1) Does Hosting mean Off-shoring? Not necessarily. Many Application Hosting providers have US data centers and US-based personnel to support your applications.
2) I thought Hosting only provided technical support for the HW/Infrastructure, not the application? A "true" Application Hosting provider will support both the Application (functional & technical) and the underlying technical infrastructure.
3) How do I choose a "true" Application Hosting provider? Ask lots of questions. How many years of hosting experience do they have? What products do they support? How many customer's do they have in your ERP package?
4) I've heard "horror-stories" about getting support questions answered. How do I make sure this doesn't happen? Again, do your homework. Make sure the Application Hosting provider has a dedicated Customer Support team that understands the functionality of your applications and is accessible via multiple methods (phone, email, chat). Also make sure your Customer Support team has both functional and technical experts who understand your business & it's technology needs.
5) I've heard that Application Hosting is expensive? It seems the conversation will inevitably turn to a discussion about Price. There are many factors influencing price. More than I can discuss in a simple blog. Suffice to say, putting price at the top of the list may end up costing you more money in the long run. In order to be successful, you want to make sure your Application Hosting provider is a good fit with your existing organization and understands your business goals & computing needs. Then, you talk about price.
So, when considering a Application Hosting provider, think about all the challenges in your own company – and take the time to select a service organization that will address those challenges, and leave you in a better position to tackle the future.
Obviously, at NaviSite we like to think we excel in all of the areas mentioned above. And if you ever catch me in line at the Airport...I'd love to talk to you in more detail about your Application Hosting needs!