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Anchor Software White Paper

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Executives of large-scale mailing operations are expected to produce zero-defect mailings at the lowest possible cost. Mailing factories carefully monitor every aspect of the production cycle and generate statistics and feedback that are constantly monitored and evaluated for improvements.
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EZ Press Release  -- May 21, 2012 Converting From Your Mailing Software Provider

Issues and Approaches

Executives of large-scale mailing operations are expected to produce zero-defect mailings at the lowest possible cost. Mailing factories carefully monitor every aspect of the production cycle and generate statistics and feedback that are constantly monitored and evaluated for improvements.

When considering replacement of production process components due to support and financial issues, it takes a concerted effort to consider all of the alternatives available. Along those lines, a major area to consider is replacement of the computer software when the current vendor(s) no longer provides a modern professional approach at a cost effective price.

What are the issues related to software conversion? How does one understand and minimize the risks associated with such a transition?

This Anchor Software White Paper examines these questions in the context of replacing address quality, mailing, and related software that has been embedded in legacy applications. Anchor recognizes that conversion can entail a significant effort, and we recommend methodical planning of the transition.

Effort and Timing

How much time and effort should you put into the evaluation of alternatives?


Unfortunately, many organizations wait too long and do not commit the appropriate level of resources. When the question arises, “Do we have any alternatives to the high renewal fees or low service issues offered by our current vendor?” organizations are often too close to the end of their current contract term, and, therefore have no other option than to continue with their less desirable current vendor. A complacent attitude often leads to inadequate support and a sizeable increase of the financial commitment, which can range from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars.

A discovery phase does not involve a lot of time, but does require coordination.

Organizations should plan to complete an evaluation at least 6 month prior to their contract renewal date. Such an evaluation could take as little as a few weeks to a few months. With the evaluation information in-hand a decision can be made to replace the current vendor. Timing, effort parameters, pricing and alternative solutions would have been outlined in order for a decision to be made quickly.

Finding Compatible Alternatives

How easy is it to switch to another address quality software solution?


Since US addressing standardization is based upon USPS CASS (Coding Accuracy Support System) regulations and CASS Certification requires 98.5% coding accuracy for software products to become CASS Certified, the coding results achieved are similar with all CASS software solutions. Therefore, achieving nearly the same coding results should not be an issue.


Clearly, the product issues are related to compatibility and alternatives, i.e. platforms available (Mainframe MVS-z/OS, Windows, UNIX, Linux), functionality, and processing performance. In order to consider the options, organizations must decide whether conversion of legacy systems from the Mainframe to other platforms is viable. Products from vendors (like Anchor) that have CASS solutions for all platforms would be the best alternatives to consider.

Conversion/Transition

Addressing software is imbedded in many facets of businesses. When considering changing addressing products, conversion plans must be established to weigh the efforts and associated costs. All applications need to be identified and plans need to be established that would ensure a seamless transition.

In some organizations this may seem like a overshelming (daunting? overwhelming? word choice, old was significant) task, but allocating enough time and appropriate resources will make the conversion project run smoothly. Your chosen vendor should help in this area by providing pre-planning, programming/technical support and training.

The degree of discipline that organizations invoke in using the existing addressing product will affect the level of conversion activity required.

Internal questions to be asked should include:

 *  Has the IT department imposed standardized interfaces? Or, were users permitted to access the software in their own fashion with either regularly used interfaces or with customized programs?

 *  Were users required to register use of the addressing software? Or, was the software placed in a general library location, available as a general utility to any application?

 *  Are there a limited number of knowledgeable technology users of the addressing software? Or, are there many technical individuals accessing the software?

Depending upon the answers to these questions, the level and time required to complete the conversion can be established.

In addition, one of the most notable obstacles to conversion is making the commitment to start the conversion process. Licensing the desired software in a step approach will help facilitate overcoming this hurdle. For example, if an organization desires to be converted in 1 year, and it will require multiple copies of a CASS solution (independent of platform), it would be wise to acquire a copy (in the case of the Mainframe) or a few copies (in the case of server platforms) to start the conversion process. The cost of licensing would be minimal in consideration of the overall project budget. The vendor could then work with its enterprise to install and convert the applications.

Contract Interpretation and Negotiations

Many organizations are lulled into a false sense of security and believe they can just “roll-over” a software maintenance renewal. Unfortunately, some vendors create new license models in an attempt to boost their revenues, and unilaterally interpret the contract terms and conditions 1-2 months before each renewal date to create urgent situations that cannot be addressed in the short time before the renewal. For example, organizations that previously had Enterprise or Site Licenses and are now using Logical Partitions (LPARS) have been suddenly forced to pay additional compliance license fees. Since these tactics are used every 3 years, it can become difficult to plan for the actual cost of conversion to a new address quality solution. Looking for vendors that are willing to provide a high degree of certainty for the future is necessary.

Evaluation Cookbook

Based upon its experience with scores of transitions, Anchor offers the following framework, which consists of 2 phases: (1) Discovery Phase: the process of understanding the options, and (2) Implementation Phase: the process of conversion and implementation.

Every attempt should be made to start the Discovery Phase six months prior to the contract renewal date.

Discovery Phase

The objective would be to establish a “decision team” that would evaluate the current situation and potential alternatives by estimating the timeline, costs and effort required to perform the conversion. This would include the costs associated with licensing new software and conducting the Implementation Phase.

With the Discovery Phase analysis in hand, organizations can understand when and how the execution of the Implementation Phase can be started to comfortably make the transition in a timely fashion.

Recommended Discovery Phase steps:

1. Learning about alternative Vendors

The most important 2 issues are “service” and “cost”. In consideration of each organizations particular requirements:

Does the Vendor have a positive reputation for providing quality products and technical support at a fair price?

Does the Vendor provide solutions for all address quality and mailing needs?

Does the Vendor offer consulting and custom programming services?

Does the Vendor have a reputation for offering contractual terms to meet the unique needs of its customers?

Does the Vendor’s management participate in pre and post sale activities?

2. Ask about their experience in transitions

Inquire about each vendor’s experience helping other organization transition to their solutions. If possible, speak with one or two of those organizations.

3. Investigate the technology

Evaluate each product by initially participating in presentations and demonstrations, and then install the actual products in an in-house environment to test the features, performance and flexibility.

4. Survey internal users on use of the existing software

Conduct surveys of existing applications, and develop a list of which ones use the address quality/mailing solutions. Vendors should be able to offer help in evaluating the options. Discussions with users about their switching preferences are recommended.

5. Create, cost and schedule the Implementation Phase

Each situation is unique, but the team should output a plan that contains a brief overview of the following:

Overall cost analysis.

Time frame and steps to convert.

Resources involved (from Vendor and internal resources)

With the Discovery document in hand in advance, you can be confident that the decision you make will have minimal risk, and keep your operation running without a hitch.

 

Company: Anchor Software
Email : sales@anchorcomputersoftware.com
Phone : 972-881-2424
Fax : 972-881-2324
Address : 400 Chisholm Place Suite 300, Plano, TX 75075-6911
http://www.anchorcomputersoftware.com/


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Anchor Software

Anchor Software

Anchor Software

Anchor Software

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