Ask Application Vendors All the Right Questions

While working with application vendors on projects, it’s important to ask all the questions. For example, last month I was assisting a client to upgrade their main line of business application. The vendor was running lead on the project, but I was assisting with the infrastructure side of the upgrades. The project was well organized by the vendor, and all infrastructure upgrades went better than expected. The server-side components were installed, data and databases moved over, and all migration work checked out successfully. However, once we moved onto the workstations, there was an important aspect of it left out—workstation requirements.

This particular line of business application also required a large workstation upgrade. Versions took a large leap forward, from 2015 to 2020, so there was no thought of what other components would be required for upgrade prior to the jump to v2020. In this particular instance, Microsoft .NET 4.7.2 was a requirement prior to the v2020 software upgrade. Now while this required component was included in the installation media, it took an additional 15-30 minutes to install that component and required an additional reboot on all the workstations before the v2020 upgrade would even run. During the course of upgrading all workstations in a single evening, this added 6-8 billable hours to the client.

Previously, I had only installed the older v2015 version of this application and had no experience in installing the updated v2020 version. As stated, the vendor’s installation engineer was top notch when it came to the server side of the project. All hardware/software requirements were relayed to me 3-4 weeks prior to the server upgrade and included weekly calls to check in on server prep status. They did not offer the same thought into the client-side of the upgrade. Had I previously known that .NET 4.7.2 was a requirement, I could have spent some time checking workstations, and once confirming that it wasn’t installed on any of our workstations, could have tested/pushed the installation via GPO prior to the rollout.

Overall, the project went well from the vendor’s standpoint, but their scope of work did not include upgrading the workstations at the client location. In the future, I’ll make sure to verify all workstation components/requirements, just like for a server upgrade. During a wrap-up call with the vendor’s project team, I also made the comment of the .NET requirement, hoping to pass on the time savings to the next IT administrator.

The next time your organization has any projects with application vendors, make sure your IT admin asks all the questions of the project lead, especially when it comes to tasks on the client-side of the project.

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