Do You Have Shelfware?

Paint is no good in the can and software is no good on the shelf.

Shelfware is software that is bought, paid for, and then left unused on the shelf. Have you contributed to this phenomenon? According to a poll conducted by IE Software, companies in the U.S. waste up to $12.3 billion per year on maintenance for software that is not used.

All too often, the application you want comes with a software suite offer you simply can’t refuse. Soon after, you encounter difficulties with installation and leave the software on the shelf, uninstalled. The investment has already been made and it’s not a task you want to tackle, so nothing gets done. Suddenly, it’s shelfware.

Below are some tips to help prevent your organization from investing in shelfware –

Core Use Cases

Regardless of how many cool features the software has, if it’s unused, it has zero value. During the evaluation, consider the user based and subsequently have them evaluate the installation of the solution against some well-defined use cases. If the core features of the software are not applicable or useful, then additional features are moot.

Technical Champion

It is essential to have someone truly understand the product and understand how to use it in order to satisfy the various needs of the organization. A technical champion with a sound understanding of the software can engage users and avoid straying into unsupported use cases that increase the risk of a failed deployment.

Business Sponsor

The cost of deploying and utilizing software is often bigger than acquiring the software itself. The investment needs a sponsor to ensure the rollout is smooth, processes are attuned, and the correct metrics are put in place. Business sponsors should provide clear and measurable goals for deploying the solution. They also need to engage with other stakeholders (IT, users, managers, vendors) to make sure the software is integrated into the organization’s business operations.

Pace Yourself

Take a gradual approach to the rollout.  It is a risk to roll out a complex solution to everyone, all at once. Instead, focus on a successful deployment to a smaller group of users within your core use cases.  This enables you to learn along the way, and reduces risk for the organization.  

Getting users to adopt new software is never an easy task. First impressions are key, and the introduction of the software is critical to success. Bring in the stakeholders to plan the deployment and integration before the roll out. Show users how the solution will make their lives better and easier. Once adoption occurs, users will be more confident and start to use more of the powerful features. This is when the value of the solution is realized. Remember, it will never happen unless adoption is achieved from the very beginning.

Professional Services

Even with a technical champion, sponsors, and the right use cases, there are many decisions related to deployment and usage that can greatly benefit from the expertise and experience of a solution provider. 

Skimping on services can lead to an extended period of stumbling up the stairs while you spend valuable time learning where the steps lead. A good solution provider has a map; rent it from them by buying their services.

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