31 Mar, 2023 / Xode Article

Key Technology Person Risk: Removing the Risk from Tech Planning_

What would happen tomorrow if your key tech person suddenly vanished? Would you be able to access any of your software, or would you be locked out completely?

What would happen tomorrow if your key tech person suddenly vanished? Would you be able to access any of your software, or would you be locked out completely? 

In short, how much do you rely on your ‘easy to access’ software systems?

The tech world is full of promises of plugins that adapt to your software seamlessly or systems that save so many hours your whole team could take a month-long trip to the Bahamas and still turn a profit at the end of the financial year.

Many software ads look just as cheesy as this quick doodle — with mismatching clip art, bad garbled ad copy and a terribly unconvincing stock actor. 

But the truth is, as bad as the sales pitch may be for some software, some platforms are as good as their word. Others are designed to give you as little control as possible, with limited back-end access or adaptability. It’s hard to tell which is which from the box art alone.

So in this brief blog, we’ll take you through how you can remove the risk from tech planning and select the best option for your line of work. 

And if you’re a bit of a technophobe who’d rather leave it to the experts to suggest, this blog will still apply — because we’ll tell you to avoid paying for an expensive upgrade you ultimately can’t use!

First off, where’s the free trial?

If you’re looking for a pre-built system, never refuse the offer of a free trial, or negotiate an extension if you’re still not sure. If you’re spending hundreds or thousands, your custom is well worth the developer's time, and they should accommodate you as best they can. 

But maybe you’re after something a little more bespoke — in that case, you’ve got a lot more freedom because you’re continually testing and reengineering the software as you go. If you think of something you need, you can always add it in later — perfect!

Single point entry or Technological Key Person Risk (TKPR)

For many businesses, the core of their software programmes have run for at least a decade, with additional add-ons arriving as needed to promote new updates or reflect customer trends. 

The problem with these software approaches is that they’re designed with a single-point entry, meaning only one key risk person can access the software’s backend or make changes in an emergency. And emergencies we’ve had plenty — the COVID outbreak in 2020 decentralised thousands of offices, meaning old in-office reliance systems no longer worked — especially with everyone working on home laptops.

Luckily, the plug-and-play type software being produced now, while limited in functionality, helps remove TKPR’s necessity whilst improving security with two-factor authentication methods. Other software programmes that depend on a large amount of collaboration will allow for limited access, depending on the different roles of people in the company. So while you may not be able to access the full system as set by your TKPR person, you can access the specific areas for changes you need to without disturbing the overall system. 

Why do you need backend access?

Imagine you have a software programme for timekeeping, tracking your hundred-odd employees as they sign in daily. A tech expert has set up your bespoke software programme, which will run smoothly, barring disaster or a cyber attack, until the end of time. 

But your business is always changing — that’s the nature of business. You start bringing in part-time staff with new contracts. Other staff members want to access the system through their phones. You hire a new administration person who needs access codes to do their job. Etc, etc.

Your application/software/system will need to be adjusted for those changes, which you might not have planned for at the time. Do you really want to involve your key tech person for every minor change you make?

Good planning can reduce this issue greatly — see our article on Getting software development right from the get-go. But there will be changes they don’t predict. This is why, before committing to any new system that promises to remove all your worries in a couple of weeks and one free trial, it’s important to identify two key points; how often will you use the system, and how critical is it to your business's function?

Is your investment really a one-off purchase?

The reason a lot of software programmes can advertise so cheaply, with initial instalment and monthly fees, is that you’re only getting limited access to the software’s functionality. Training new administrators, adding in key people, increasing storage capacity or even resetting some of the preset coding is near impossible. The tailored system that seemed to answer all your worries at the beginning starts to show its cracks when it refuses to adapt. The peculiar workarounds aren’t made clear to you and require assistance that’s hard to find once you sign up. 

So, make sure to investigate who you’re buying your software from and what their contractual relationship with you is after purchase. Do they retain the key risk person, leaving your company completely in the dark in an emergency? Will you have to wait twenty-four hours while their offshore support team wakes up?

Similarly, what happens if your own key risk person leaves the company or they’re busy? Who manages the software then?

Derisking your software approach

The best systems, aside from working well with existing software, will be set up with your company's future in mind. You might want to think about:

  • The user interface (UI) and who's in charge of redesigning key elements.
  • What customisations you’ll need down the line to update or extend your software? This is particularly important if your software is customer-facing and is the prime revenue generator. 
  • The time it takes to innovate and the difficulty it takes to communicate changes.

At Xode, our goal is to partner with you to produce dynamic, innovative solutions for the future. We can customise your web or mobile experience depending on the functionality you need whilst retaining the high level of polish and user experience (UX) that you’d expect from a software design agency.

If you’d like to find out more about how we can derisk your software solutions, feel free to send us a message or contact us at 027 825 3080.

Tags: AI, Technology Risk, Technology Planning, Risk Reduction