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Software Selection - Doing it Right
This is the 2nd in our three part series on Technology for the Distributor. Our first article can be found here.
If your organization has gotten to the point that your software is inhibiting your growth due to its inability to help you perform important tasks, then you have a very important decision to make.
So to make your life a bit easier, we are going to give you some guidelines to follow when doing your initial research.
If you don’t have the time or expertise to travel down this road; all is not lost. We have the expertise to perform this work on behalf of your organization.
The following are key steps that you should follow in selecting a new ERP system for your organization.
1. Determine viable software solution providers to consider.
This should be done through a clear process that involves documenting what you need a system to do for you and your other key requirements in addition to functionality. A series of interviews with your people, documenting processes, including ones that are outside of your current system and getting answers from the potential software solution providers will move you in in the right direction.
2. See exactly what the software can do for your specific organization.
The only way to do this is to tell the software solution providers exactly what you need the software to do for your company. You will need to actively participate in detailed demonstrations with multiple solutions to make the best decision for your organization. Don’t get too focused on the exact way in which the software is shown to work. In most cases, there are multiple ways to process a sales order, for instance. You want to make sure that the system has a logic that you can agree with and then during the implementation process you will get a chance to tailor the system exactly how you want it to react to your business needs.
3. Develop a budget for software, ongoing maintenance, implementation services, training services, and hardware.
In putting a budget together, you can rely on information shared with you by the software solution providers. But, you need to make sure that they are providing you with ALL of the numbers. One area that we almost always see companies scrimp on is training and education. Don’t short change your organization!
4. Analyze your choices and make a decision based on both quantitative and qualitative measures.
You should develop a quantitative matrix that you can use to “score” the software solution providers. There is something to be said about “gut feel”, too. Analyze your decision utilizing both methods.
5. Negotiate fair and comprehensive agreements.
Almost every agreement that we have seen favors the software developer and software solution provider. While you may not be able to turn the tables completely, there is room to make the agreements fair for both parties concerned. You also should consider including details about the most important functionality that you want the system to perform. This is your last point of leverage. Once you have signed agreements, the leverage is in the hands of the software solution provider.
As you navigate through the process of selecting your next ERP system, follow these steps and you will have a greater chance of success. If we can help you with this important decision, please feel free to reach out to our Senior Technology Partner, David Panitch. We are always happy to answer questions and provide guidance with your selection efforts. While this may be a selection process that you undertake once or twice in your career, we help multiple organizations every year make thoughtful decisions related to technology.
In an upcoming article we will cover: