Transitioning Your IT Staff

If SaaS offers so many benefits, why isn't every enterprise using it for every application?

"It's the control issue," says Ginnie Stouffer, vice president of consulting at IDC Partners. "It's a lack of understanding on the customer's side of what they're actually using. They're much more comfortable if they can control the application. It's usually the IT staff that wants to own [applications]."

Schumacher Group CIO Doug Menefee is very familiar with this problem. "In the early days, we struggled with .Net and Java developers [accustomed to client/server software applications] not making the transition easily and not embracing Salesforce.com," he recalls.

His solution to that problem was to create a new Web services organization and then hire Web developers, who "naturally gravitate more toward clicks than coding."

"This group typically deploys more solutions in a shorter amount of time than what the on-premises software team delivers. But that's not to say one is stronger or better than the other," Menefee quickly adds. "It's because the on-premises software team has to deal with more infrastructure and licensing-related issues."

Today, the teams peacefully coexist in Schumacher's mixed SaaS and on-premises IT environment.

"Everything here is driven by business requirements," Menefee says. All new applications aren't automatically SaaS-based. Instead, he explains, "whenever we have a business need, we evaluate what our existing architecture is, and we go to both teams and ask them to come back with proposals to address the problem."

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