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Merging Software

Offload or Cope?

Merging companies has always been a very involved task and while you might have supposed that the advent of computers may have made things easier, in some ways, it has become that much harder to reorganize into one, smooth-running entity. Take software, for instance: the emerging organization now has several sets of software, many of which just may have the same purpose and function. What to do? Does the company decide to offload one system and come up with yet another, or can the various systems be reworked into one system that is better than the sum of so many parts? One study, coming out of Mälardalen University in Sweden tries to find answers and solutions to such situations in an effort to avoid a sticky software situation.

Constant Flux

Rikard Land of the Department of Computer Science and Electronics at Mälardalen University wrote his thesis on the topic of, "How to Succeed with In-House Software Systems Integration and Merge -- Observations concerning Architecture and Process."

Land wrote about two noticeable and current organizational merger trends in his thesis. One current trend relates to the increase in the use of software in general and more and more as an aid to performing various tasks. The other trend is seen in the constant flux and reorganization of systems and businesses.

Land has spotted an inherent difficulty that has arisen as the result of our increased dependency on software systems and the continual evolution of companies and systems: as new people are brought in or switched around within a company or system, they find that they have little or no knowledge at all of the software that has been in use until their entrance on the scene. That means that some people don't know how to use the software at all, while others don't know how to bend the new software to their best advantage.

Land's thesis aims to present case studies of organizations in this precise situation and in addition to detailing these problems, also dispenses advice on how to set up a process by which these organizational problems can be assessed. Land suggests a direction for prioritizing these software concerns and how to evaluate which steps will be the most productive. The thesis suggests that it is the architecture of the software that must change its focus so that it has more flexibility of structure. This should enable software to change along with merging organizations, to grow with technology, and to adapt to various computer models.


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