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Five action points to consider when reviewing business software

When you run a growing organisation, there’s a point where you need to consider investing in business management software that increases performance and profitability. A number of industry reports show that close to 50 percent of businesses have failed* IT projects. Here are five action points to guide your software selection journey and enable a successful implementation.

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 – 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. Does it work out of the box?

There are potentially three solution types up to consider: generic accounting packages, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions and bespoke or ‘written for you’ solutions. Each naturally has their own 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 that, the more the vendor covers in the one solution, the less additional support you’ll require to meet your business needs, as your business grows. 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 the customer level. This is driven by the upsurge in 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 your 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 overall 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 prepared 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. 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.

In many businesses, choosing new software will require a complete re-think of operations, infrastructure and technology. This will 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 to get this right.

 

*www.cio.com/article/2380469/careers-staffing/why-are-so-many-it-projects-failing-.html

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