Corporate applications face premature replacement

The usefulness of a corporate application increases over time but is often replaced prematurely before completing afull life cycle.

Speaking at the Oracle Applications User Group conference in Sydney, Dialog Information Technology consultant, BevinWatson, said generally an organisation will expect to get 10 years service from a corporate application.

But in reality it doesn't occur, he said, and is the sort of figure an executive might use when "doing calculationson the back of an envelope to decide when and where to deploy which application".

Watson said applications are replaced prematurely for a range of reasons including external events (Y2K), opportunity(additional budgeting for GST), a takeover or just fashion.

Outlining bulletproofing techniques for application implementations, he said, "Old-timers will tell you to get to astable platform and then stay there.

"This sounds nice, but it just doesn't work for IT," he said.

"Next time someone suggests this, ask which spreadsheet package they're running on which stable version of Windows,on which stable laptop, and whether it connects to a reliable PDA, whether the mobile phone is trustworthy, andwhether they decided not to record GST because their stable software didn't support it.

"It is true that end users don't want constant change, but they also want a reliable, relevant business tool."

Watson said most of the corporate cost of upgrades is the time spent on testing and test management.

He said customisation should be targeted very carefully and wherever possible, avoided.

"There is a fashion among software vendors to tell users that software will enrich their life and help witheverything they do; conversely, it is fashionable among IT managers that the software can be will be adapted to matchan organisation's business process. There is a sensible middle path," Watson said.

Last month Oracle released an online product to track and manage an application's life cycle. Oracle Quality Onlineis available at the company's Web site.

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