More often than not, companies fail to ask the following question until it’s too late: Do we have a software selection process?
We’ve mentioned in the past how quickly business software can become out of date and slow your company down. But when the time comes to replace their old software, many companies find themselves in a pinch. There are just too many options out there to consider and a limited number of hours in the day.
As is the case with all of the other systems within your business, you need to have a routinized software selection process. The process should fit neatly into your company structure and culture. We do, however, have a few suggestions for you as you start to plan out your software selection process.
1. Determine What Your Business Needs Out of Software Selection Process
Business software can optimize many of your existing internal processes. So, if you want to find the best software for your business, you first need to know what your company does.
Start by talking with your department heads. Learn what’s working within each department and try to get a better sense of their pain points. From there, start to map out where you see your business in the next 5 to ten years. Consider what capabilities the new system your company takes on will need to have in order to meet your long term business goals and keep up with industry trends.
The following factors should be considered as you evaluate your business needs:
- Scalability of software
- How easy it is for employees to learn the new system
- Whether the system is cloud based or not
- What are the systems reporting capabilities?
Once you have a better understanding of what it is your company needs, write down what features to prioritize in your new system. Consider what your new system will absolutely need to keep your business viable into the future and which would be nice to have but aren’t 100 percent necessary. With that information in hand, you will be in great shape to start the next step in the process.
2. Establish a Software Selection Budget
Keeping any project within budget can be a big lift. There’s simply no way to predict all of the implementation challenges that may arise over the project’s life cycle.
That said, you should be able to get a rough estimate by just doing a little research. Start by contacting vendors and getting project estimates. In some cases, they may even be willing to negotiate if your account is of high priority to them or if you are a current customer looking to upgrade.
As you consult with the vendors, be sure to ask for them for as many case studies as possible. You need concrete facts about the price they paid for the software as well as the future cost savings and revenue they found from using the software. From there, you should have your accounting team find the net present value of the project based on projected increased revenue in the future vs. upfront purchasing and implementation costs. If you find the project is a net positive, you should probably consider moving forward.
3. Try Out Different Software Systems
The one beauty of the day and age in which we live is that vendors are typically willing to let you try out a software package before you make a purchase. Be sure to take advantage of this offer.
As you trial the offer, make sure key stakeholders from your various departments get the chance to try it out. They likely have insights you may have missed based simply on their experience and expertise.
After everyone has had the chance to test out the new system, meet with all of your stakeholders and gather feedback. Compare positives and negatives from each system and from there weigh these findings with your larger business goals. Choose the system that best aligns with the needs of your company as a whole while satisfying functional and departmental managers across your business.
4. Decide on Your Vendor
By now, you should have a reasonable estimate of the amount your company will eventually pay for the new software. Some might argue you should simply choose your vendor based on the price. Think again.
As you decide on your vendor, be sure to carefully review their customer policies. In particular, you should pay attention to whether they offer a technical support package in addition to the product itself. No company can afford a prolonged outage of key business software, and you need to make sure support is ready in the event the system goes down.
You should also be mindful of their implementation proposal. It can take up to 18 months to implement certain ERP systems. So, you should get a strong sense of their plan and how they will handle any bumps they experience along the road.
When the time comes to start your company’s software selection process, we’re here to help. Contact us today for a free software consultation. We’ll build a business software package tailored to the needs of your company.