How application platforms have changed my ability to deliver success

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Editor’s note: This blog post was originally published on cio.com.

Left to their own choices, business units pick a potpourri of niche applications to meet their specific needs. I see this every day at work, where we have many applications in various niche uses across our company.

This presents a major challenge for us as we mature our data culture and rely on that data more and more to make effective decisions. In the past, we chose each of these niche applications because, at the time, they fit the bill perfectly for the need at hand.

But we didn’t always take into account how others in the business would interact with the data, especially a few years down the road.

Aim for solutions that “go better together”

So several years ago, we embarked on a path to use corporate application platforms, when possible, to solve business needs before buying niche solutions. This helps us reduce our IT sprawl.

By utilizing a single platform that combines a wide range of technologies and easily integrates with other powerful solutions, my team empowers users with instant access to all the information they need from their preferred applications, without writing and managing custom code.

We also limit the amount of systems we need to use and maintain.

At Hyland, we have two major application platforms that we use in this manner. The first, of course, is our own enterprise content management (ECM) software suite, OnBase. The second is Salesforce.com. Together, these solutions have allowed us to build multiple applications without having to invest in niche software to solve our issues.

They also allow my team to service a demanding business that requires great solutions – and requires them to be up and running quickly.

Over the past 12 months, we have delivered over 30 applications on these two platforms with a relatively small staff. I was able to do this because I have a team of talented professionals working on applications for both of these platforms.

With our increased ability to focus, I am able to invest much greater in user training than I am able to for the niche-focused solutions. Meanwhile, these two applications cover a diverse cross-section of our business and vary from small solutions to ones that have major impacts on our business.

One platform, many solutions

Here are just a few examples of processes we have been able to optimize, all of which run through our ECM platform:

  • Time tracking, billing and productivity reporting
  • International business viability research and reviews
  • Request for service proposals
  • Hardware asset management
  • Career mapping

Using application platforms has given a relatively small group of professionals the ability to provide niche applications to solve niche solutions for many clients throughout my organization. This allows for a smaller tech stack, which in turn provides simpler maintenance and upgrade strategies. My team also worries less about one upgrade to one niche solution that can create a domino effect of upgrades, broken solutions and other incompatibility issues.

In this case, less truly is more.

John Phelan

John Phelan

Describing himself as “not your typical VP,” John Phelan, vice president of Information Systems, is responsible for operational oversight of Hyland, creator of OnBase’s corporate Information Systems department, including corporate infrastructure, application development and solution deployment. He joined Hyland in March 1999 as a quality assurance representative. He is an AIIM ECM Specialist and is CDIA+ and MCSE certified.

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