Packaged Versus Custom Apps: The Debate Rages On

It wasn’t that long ago that packaged apps ruled the application delivery landscape and custom development was decidedly the second choice. Today, the decision is not so cut and dried, as firms struggle to find the right balance between the quick time-to-market of packages and the competitive distinction custom development can create. In the midst of this shift, a new option — rent (SaaS) — is gaining traction. Most enterprises already support a mix of packaged and custom applications — but with fast adaptation, customer experience, and process integration the top priority for most enterprises, do firms need a different mix of custom, packaged, and SaaS apps to maximize customer value?

Next month at Forrester’s IT Forum in Las Vegas, a panel of experts will debate the pros and cons of custom-developed applications and packaged applications in our Application Development & Delivery track. Attendees will have a chance to vote on the future of applications. But we decided the debate was too juicy to sit on it for another month. So, on April 25, from 2 to 3 p.m. ET, Forrester will host a Tweet Jam — using the hashtag #ITF11 — to answer the question:

“Which is better at delivering customer value: packaged or custom applications? Why?”

We asked our panelists to get the discussion started, and here is what they had to say:

Dr. John Bates, CTO, Progress Software

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How Should EA Work With App Delivery To Remain Relevant?

I visited a client recently, a large company with global operations and a large application delivery organization. A senior VP in charge of a large part of that organization told me an interesting story about its experience with a change in the way it approaches EA over the past few years. In brief, he said:

  • “A few years ago our architects were mostly dispersed into various parts of the delivery organization; we didn’t have an EA group.
  • “Then we recognized that we needed an EA group to better manage our use of technology, so we pulled those people out of delivery and formed them into an EA group.
  • “Since then EA has spent a lot of time understanding our business, building capability maps, and focusing on a more strategic level.
  • “But now I’m hearing cries of anguish from the delivery teams that they don’t have enough direct engagement and support from the architects in their delivery efforts. The delivery teams are concerned that EA has moved too far away from the actual delivery of business value, that EAs are not helping enough, and that it’s harming the effectiveness of the delivery organization.”
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Attend Forrester's Webinar On Transforming Your Application Delivery Organization

Are you under increasing pressure from your business colleagues and sponsors to deliver more business value, faster, with higher quality? Have you been experimenting with new processes like Agile and new technologies like cloud as ways of meeting those objectives? Are you looking to transform your delivery capability, whether top-down or bottom-up?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should pursue this special opportunity, which is open to all: next Tuesday, April 12, at 11 a.m. Eastern, I'll be delivering a webinar on Transforming Application Delivery, together with my colleague Diego Lo Giudice. Diego is one of the authors of our recent report on this topic, together with Dave West. I edited this report. I hope you can join us!

Regards,
Mike Gilpin