Orphaned Custom Software – Real World Examples
Hi Graeme, thanks for making the time to catch up with me.
Thanks, George for the opportunity as well to talk about this.
So, Graham are there any real-world examples that you could draw on how orphan software was discovered and had to be dealt with?
Yes George, in different organisations. I’ve worked for I’ve seen a little bit of everything, but one does come to mind. It’s always the war story I remember. We’re working in an organisation that was an intermediate sales channel. So, you had intermediaries out there selling the particular product or service. Those intermediaries got remunerated based on their sales which is quite common. So, the central part of that sales team in the head office if you like the organisation have their sales CRM tools.
Hence, they look at that every day to see their sales dashboard what sales are coming in. What sales have been converted? How those opportunities get realised? And that gives them a very important view of the efficiency of their sales channels in different geographies and products. It also forms a critical part of remunerating, providing the right commissions to the intermediaries. This is a very stock standard solution using a well-rated industry-leading CRM system.
Underneath that, over time, the business had built these little pieces of now orphan software doing very innocent functions of translating data from one spreadsheet into another. Or taking data out of this other system and putting it into the CRM. These pieces of software working fine every day, people are coming in seeing the sales dashboard. They can see where the sales are going, and that’s great. One day some of these orphan software just stopped working. Didn’t know why suddenly without that data getting into that sales CRM system. It became worthless. They couldn’t see what sales are happening. They couldn’t see what’s been converted so they couldn’t remunerate the intermediaries.
Paying the intermediaries is important for them, because you’re reliant on them to sell your product or service. So, this is a great example of an orphan software in that problem that aha moment. So, one day it suddenly stops working. Everyone’s looking around, well who knows this or how does that data get from over there into here.
I thought it just worked like magic and I know it was these excel macros that were written. You know three years ago and we don’t have it supported by IT, because we sort of did it on the side, and we don’t have any documentation.
It was one of those critical moments where they needed to get this working again in a very short time, so that they could still get that sales view and provide the remuneration. They need to pay their intermediaries, which have to be based obviously on true metrics, not a promise that they sold so much.
So that was one of those key moments that I think resonates a lot of what you’ve described and where that orphan software. Then, put them in a situation where they had to react immediately. How to get this thing working again, when no one knew about the software turned into a mad scramble to try to find someone who knew this particular version or dialect of visual basic scripting that had been written in this very big and unwieldy excel set of spreadsheets.
Going forward, it is important to get this data to flow into that CRM system. So, we’re not going to throw out the CRM that’s an important business fund it’s supporting a number of business functions. It was how they remediate that orphan software and get that data in and how do they do that without throwing away the data.
Obviously throwing away the rules of how that data is processed and how it’s represented. So yeah, that’s a good recollection of mine of a true situation where the orphan software raised its head in one of those aha moments. It’s a mad scramble to find someone who knows about that technology or could provide the right insight to give the directions of how to move forward. It was an in an environment where you couldn’t just throw it all out and replace it all.
So that’s where our ability to find people with those skills would allow us to maybe pull together a team that could go and help out. And resolve those issues, and put in a strategy for maintaining. That until an overarching strategy could be determined on how best to put in a middleware between whatever the data source was and the CRM system.
That makes perfect sense Graeme, so you can see that the service we provide where we investigate that orphan software is important. A lot of people are in a sense of calm and a steady-state environment where things are working. But, they’re sitting on these time bombs. I think they need to take some action to locate those things, bring Softlogic in. So, we can assess those particular solutions and find ways to maintain them. And to look after them properly and keep them running reliably for the client.
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