5 touch point to consider when reviewing business software

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So you’ve been running a successful business or in the throes of expanding one and this has brought you to the point where you need to consider investing in new business software or reconsider your current solution. Not to raise the alarm but......

based on a number of industry reports, the statistics around failed software implementations is over 50%. Typically this figure is based on a number of factors including projects going over budget or clients believing they haven’t achieved ROI expectations. Although the figures are high there appears to be increased success when clients have done their due diligence prior to selection, committed to business process management changes and provided the necessary resources during the implementation phase. 

Here are 5 key touch point that might assist you in your software selection journey and hopefully place you in the 50% of successful implementations.

1 Define and map out your key processes first

It is recommended that you look closely at your existing business processes and map out the ones that you would like to develop. Be proud of the ones that work and equally critical of the ones that don’t. You can start with listing pain points, which should form the basis for a checklist of discovery topics you’ll need to take into the vendor discovery process. Although it sounds obvious, it’s often a case where clients will find a number of vendors and allow them to drive the discovery process. The goal should be to articulate the process requirements and openly challenge assumptions so as you can take these into the demonstration phase. You will quickly begin to understand where their solution adapts to or improves your workflows. 

2 Look at the industry and your peers

Desktop research has enabled powerful insight into what’s available in your industry and potentially what your competitors are using. Software can be a midfield, but there are potentially four solution types up for considering. These include generic accounting packages, industry specific solutions, enterprise resource (ERP) solutions and bespoke or ‘written for you’ solutions. Each naturally have their advantages and disadvantages. All should cover off your basic account needs, so it often will come down to your key business processes and how competently the vendor can manage this ‘out of the box’ or using configurations, customisations or integration. The basic rule is the more the vendor can cover in the one solution the less likely you’ll need to be concern with supporting it and the more likely they’ll meet your needs in the future. It might come at a higher cost initially but the benefits should make it worth the investment.

3 Consider your size and the digital future of your business

Depending on the size of your business a software solution could be your most valuable asset or simply create more overheads for your team to manage. It can’t be stressed enough that you should be considering where you see the business in 5-10 years. For example are your business partners or their customers moving to digital platforms? Many suppliers are now seen as needing to fulfil the supply chain at customer level. This is driven by the new face of digital commerce. An investment now might secure the growing needs of the industry as it evolves at the speed of customers.

4 Business reporting and analytics

The more informed you are about the operations the better you’ll be able to streamline them enabling you and your stakeholder to spend valuable time on strategic development. Look for solutions that offer analytics technology within the over business management solution. The platform should provide transparency across all operational processes, preferably through integrated BI functionality with the specific tools that meet your supply chain needs.

5 Be prepare to invest more than expected on implementation

Through a proper discovery process the chosen vendor should be able to provide you with an implementation budget. That said it’s simply not an exact science and the reality is each implementation is unique regardless of methodologies. Make sure to question any fixed cost implementations as there’s no telling what might be uncovered, on both sides. Consider what you would be prepared to invest if the budget does goes beyond scope and be prepared for it. It’s not uncommon for a business to alter its focus during the implementation which often alters the budget. Define what physical resources will be needed to make the implementation a success. Never assume the vendor will fill the gap. There’s no point in placing the blame after the fact, so ensure you’ve provided them with as much detail about your business processes and expectations up front. Finally ensure that milestones are met on both ends and be critical of your own commitment as the vendor won’t have the same level of vested interest in your future. 

In many businesses, choosing new software will require a complete re-think of operations, infrastructure and technology. All will have an impact on the business, its stakeholders and staff. However, with benefits stretching from optimising resources, generating sales and increasing market share, it is well worth the time investment.

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Stephen Duncan

Stephen Duncan

Stephen Duncan is a Technology Retail Specialist.

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