Pre-configured Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) regulatory software products, including our POSSE Permitting & Licensing System and POSSE Alcoholic Beverage Control systems, are developed based on a vendor’s experience with, and a best practices interpretation of increasingly uniform business processes, such as government-oriented licensing, permitting, inspections and enforcement. The increasing commonality of these regulatory processes from jurisdiction to jurisdiction across the U.S. and Canada enable COTS software vendors and their customers to move away from high-risk and expensive one-off “custom build” software projects to pre-configured business systems that featuring significant available functionality.
To achieve a successful COTS business system implementation, your agency will need to be prepared to collaborate on several important tasks, including:
- Fit Assessment
A Fit/Gap Analysis led by the vendor to understand where the vendor’s product offers a “fit” with the business and technical requirements specified in the RFP.
Note: Requirements in the COTS solution may be met in a different way than your current system.
- Gap Closure
A continuation of the Fit/Gap Analysis process led by the vendor to help the vendor’s Business Analysts and System Architect understand the remaining site-specific “Gap” items that must be configured into the system for a total solution—typically, the remaining 20 per cent of highly site-specific requirements.
- Change Management
The agency working with its own business leaders and staff members (ideally, under the guidance of a Change Management professional or Human Resources consultant) to retrofit “As Is” or “Future State” business processes and requirements to align with the COTS software functionality. Outcomes of this exercise may include re-engineering of current business practices and processes, or even some corporate, department, or business unit re-design.
As you further consider a typical COTS system implementation paradigm, even in your project’s infancy, it should cause you to seriously evaluate such underlying factors in your organization as:
- Interest in Maintaining the Status Quo, reflected in the following statement: “Our organization’s leadership, staff, and culture don’t want to change how we do business; we just need to update our aging legacy technology. Our current technology is being discontinued.”Your organization might still need to complete a “custom-build” versus “find-a-COTS” evaluation and explore if there is any vision internally, especially at the leadership/sponsor level, for achieving “transformation.” Further pre-RFP investigation is recommended.
- Feasibility of using a COTS solution for “As Is” Processes, reflected in the following statement: “Our organization’s business processes and requirements are so radically different than most other agencies of our type; we need a system that works our way.”Your organization might still need to complete a “custom-build” versus “find-a-COTS” evaluation. The POSSE solution is flexible enough to meet those requirements, but bear in mind that any departure from the baseline, pre-configured “out of the box” solution brings with it additional configuration costs. Further pre-RFP investigation is recommended.
- Feasibility of using a COTS solution for “Future State” Processes, reflected in the following statement: “We have just spent X months (or years) re-engineering and documenting our new ‘future state’ processes. We are not prepared to alter those processes to fit a pre-configured COTS product.”Your organization might still need to complete a “custom-build” versus “find-a-COTS” evaluation. A COTS departure solution might still be your more affordable and less risky option. Further pre-RFP investigation is recommended.
- A Commitment to Transformation, reflected in the following statement: “Our organization’s leadership, staff, and culture agree that we need to change how we do things. We need to streamline and expand our services, better use available technology, and realize new efficiencies. We are prepared to participate in changing or restructuring our business to achieve these goals.”A positive sign that your organization understands that a COTS solution is your best option and that you are ready for your project.
As you can see from the above statements, an executive sponsor-driven objective to streamline, improve business, leverage new technologies, and realize improved efficiencies–as well as an organizational willingness to change how you do business in order to get there–are fundamental considerations for a successful COTS project.
NEXT WEEK: A look at the outcomes realized from an effective approach to Organizational Change Management.