- By George Beaton

The team at Digimasters have been involved in dozens of successful analytics projects. Projects that have come in on time, on budget, delivered to scope with happy clients and project teams who still want to work with us once we've handed over.

But successful handover of an application is just a milestone in the life cycle of that app.

The biggest threat to the new piece of software you've just taken ownership of, is what happens when the delivery team completes their handover. Ongoing support is not just important for ongoing success, in our experience, it is vital, and support and enhancement is just as important as the initial build. So why do we find so many organisations fail to invest in this?

Here are some of the more popular reasons:

  • We have a mature IT department who will provide support and fix defects
  • The vendors have left 'really good' documentation
  • We don't have the budget
  • We're paying them a software license fee, they provide software support and updates
  • It's a small app, we can handle it

On the face of it, these reasons seem acceptable, but none of them will address the main reason for 'successful' projects failing. Which is - Poor User Engagement.

Our experience tells us that users disengage and find other ways to get things done where:

  • The application stagnates
  • Users are not being listened to
  • There is no one on hand to ask questions to
  • Data and information in the application is wrong
  • Defects that have no workarounds
  • There is a more accurate way of achieving their goal, even if this way is harder
  • The application becomes irrelevant to the user's day job

And when users disengage from an application, it becomes very hard to get them to go back.

Digimasters approach is to employ a tiered feedback and support system aimed at the users of your applications. In the background, we work with you to appoint a product owner, a product strategy, a flexible product roadmap and finally a release cadence. This can be done with applications that we build for you, or we can take on the support and enhancement of existing applications using a cost-efficient mix of onshore and nearshore developers.

In your applications, users interact with the support system by clicking an unobtrusive link to launch a simple form allowing them to ask a question, raise a defect, or submit feedback. Our system harvests in-context information about the page and user actions and can suggest solutions from our knowledge base or prefill the request form.

In the background, our support system will triage and route your request as appropriate. Working with the appointed product manager, requests are prioritised and added to the backlog and roadmap. At any time in the process, users can see where their request is in the backlog and when their suggestion will be implemented. All this ensures that the user feels important and involved in the evolution of the application, which is critical to the applications' success. And even if the user's request is rejected, the knowledge that the application is evolving and being maintained will greatly improve user engagement and as such, the success and relevance of your application.

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