Traditionally, enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementations can bring even the strongest IT infrastructure to its knees. Will the emerging professional service automation (PSA) solution face the same difficulties?

In this interview, Alex Salehi, worldwide vice president for Novell Consulting, discusses what a successful application rollout should include.

TechRepublic: What PSA solution did Novell decide on?
Salehi: Evolve Software’s ServiceSphere.

TechRepublic: Did the implementation of the Evolve modules have the same enterprise-wide implications that are common with an ERP solution, such as end user training?
Salehi: Absolutely. Specifically, that’s true if you look at Evolve as a multi-tier application, similar to an ERP solution. At Novell, we have an application architecture that we implemented, comprised of several different components. One of the most important parts was the implementation of Evolve’s PSA solution. With Evolve, like many other of the PSA solution providers, such as Niku, there’s a degree of training and specific education that all users of the solution need to understand. This is a very positive implication because they learn how to use the application more effectively.

Novell Consulting and Evolve Software

Novell Consulting was a beta adopter of San Francisco-based Evolve Software’s ServiceSphere. Currently, Novell Consulting runs the shipping release of ServiceSphere 2.5. Salehi notes that the application supports Windows NT and Sun Solaris.

TechRepublic: What were some of the key elements in the application rollout?
Salehi: Our rollout plan incorporated the end users—in our case, consultants—from the very beginning. We set out to have a shorter implementation time rather than an extended one. So it was critical for us to have strong reporting and top end-user training.

TechRepublic: How large was the implementation?
Salehi: Initially, we signed up to implement about two to three thousand end users within our consulting space, but the Evolve implementation has progressed well enough that we can see it being tied out more closely to other areas, such as systems engineering and tech support environments. The additional rollout could increase the number of end users to three to four thousand.

TechRepublic: What type of back end system did you have in place?
Salehi: We have a homegrown system.

TechRepublic: How well did it integrate with your PSA selection?
Salehi: Very well—primarily because of [Novell’s] native strategy. [Novell uses XML and CXML.] It was simply a matter of writing some standardized connectors for us around XML. The biggest benefit of all is, specifically with Evolve, we can tie it to our directory, which allows us to leverage things such as policies and security. We were able to write connectors that tie in our legacy environment and, more importantly, our application architecture environment surrounding different enterprise applications.

TechRepublic: Were you looking for a hard ROI or operational improvement?
Salehi: Our first goal was operational improvement and the first thing that the Evolve implementation brought to us was operational improvement. But as you look at how a consulting business runs, especially shifting from a branch to a practice model or from a time of materials machine to a fixed cost machine, then you begin to see some ROI numbers. In other words, we can measure data input from our consultants in other parts of the company and look and see how that is being measured from financial and other business impacts.

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