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Shared Services is a lot of “non-fun”


February 24, 2012

Doug Hadden, VP Products

It’s not about “fun” any more. Government Resource Planning shared services discussions rarely cover the functions of GRP. It’s all about the non-functional (what we call “non fun” in the product management world) aspects.

That’s a bit disturbing: the assumption that functions that government needs are less important than technology. There’s a reason for this: much of the current technology to support GRP or ERP needs are unsuited for the task of shared services or cloud computing.

Software manufacturers seem to be battling about what is a “true cloud” by offering “multi-tenancy”. The largest enterprise software manufacturers offer cloud and shared services solutions – claim that these are the best – then acquire pure play cloud providers.

Perhaps “cloud computing” really means “fuzzy, dark, opaque, dangerous.” Governments looking to implement shared services or “private clouds” are hitting technology constraints.

That’s not fun at all. Technology is meant to be an enabler.

What are the non-functional problems with the state-of-the-art? It’s the underlying technology that is often:

1. Completely different in the cloud vs. on-premises versions. Non-functional problems:

  • compatibility [compatible with previous software]
  • migration [from the previous version]
  • manageability [different skills and tools]


2. Based on proprietary client/server software. Non-functional problems:

  • security [data leakage, failure to support standards]
  • performance [client/server to web translation overhead]
  • manageability [support proprietary standards]
  • compatibility [with other applications]


3. Designed to adapt via code customization. Non-functional problems:

  • manageability [need to manage proprietary code]
  • upgradeability [need for complex change management to handle version upgrades]

4. Based on private sector needs. Non-functional problems:

  • green IT [requires more code, more tables, more hardware to perform task]
  • manageability [to adapt software to meet government requirements and changing government requirements]

Market Shift

We are seeing the following shift in shared services thinking:

  1. Computing platforms are shifting to identical cloud, shared services and on-premises pure-web
  2. Adaptability is shifting from highly customized on-premises systems with limited configuration in the cloud to highly adaptable cloud configurations
  3. Product footprints are being optimized to use less technology resources (hence more green) with improving the ease of management
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Doug Hadden

Doug Hadden

Executive Vice President, Innovation at FreeBalance
Doug is responsible for identifying new global markets, new technologies and trends, and new and enhanced internal processes. Doug leads a cross-functional international team that is responsible for developing product prototypes and innovative go-to-market strategies.

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