Regardless of your business software solution needs, or type that you’re looking for, it’s critical to avoid purchasing the wrong solution and partner mix. The business software market is saturated, boasting a repertoire of systems targeted to all kinds of companies, across many industries and selecting the right option can seem daunting, but it needn’t be.
Here, we will lay out 3 important stages of the business software selection process:
Project team – getting the stakeholders together
Most importantly, and before all else, you need to establish a project team. Implementing any enterprise level software solution is a complex project, which will require careful planning, time, commitment and broad-business support. Failure to engage all the right business stakeholders can mean the difference between implementation success and failure.
Key project roles include:
Project Sponsor – the person at the highest level in your company who is supporting this initiative and will ultimately authorise spend and the project to proceed.
Project Leader – the person who is primarily responsible for coordinating the project management, timeline and ultimately the software selection process.
Project Team – the key stakeholders and department heads who will be responsible for ensuring that the software will support the requirements of the business. This body of individuals will ensure you have a well-rounded view of your business’s needs.
Assessing your requirements – analyse your business
Now that you have the project team together, you must undertake an internal assessment – a crucial stage in which you outline your initial requirements, sometimes referred to as an RFP (Request for Proposal). This document presents your preliminary requirements and will enable you to confidently approach vendors, and compare their software and service offerings.
It’s useful to provide details of your organisation’s strategy, structure, systems, skills, employees and values, as the context won’t be apparent from a functionality list. It’s crucial to outline the scope of the investment. What core goals and outcomes need to be achieved? Also, listing any constraints imposed or assumptions made, will enable a potential provider to remove unsuitable options.
Example: Improving financial management: accelerating financial reporting Accurately connect data across accounting, sales, purchasing, stock, and customer interactions to build an end-to-end view of our business.
Assumption: Solution must ensure processes are compliant with XYZ rules.
Constraint: Must chart financial performance, in real time, with built-in dashboards.
After outlining these high-level, strategic aims, a scoping exercise should detail the projects deliverables – what is in and out of scope. The document should enable a potential provider to deliver you clarity regarding their solutions capabilities and budget parameters.
In many business you will end up with a long-list of requirements, some of which will conflict and others that are evidently more important. In those situations adoption of a requirements weighting approach is recommended, here the business has the opportunity to decide which elements are of most importance. In doing this, the project team is exploring, discovering, and documenting their needs and as a result increasing internal understanding and alignment, which in-turn increases the likelihood of project success.
Remember that many solution partners have industry specialisms, and will happily work with you to understand your business, and how todays’ next generation business software can be best implemented to transform your operations, through better business processes.
Resources (time and budget) – the true cost
Equally important as the RFP and scoping documents, is pinning down time-scales, any internal resource time needed, and budget amount. Establishing the true cost sounds like an easy process, but the web is full of articles about software implementation projects that have exceeded budgets and failed to achieve deadlines.
Whether purchasing a lifetime or subscription based licence, you should calculate your costs on the same basis. For budgeting purposes, this is best done on an annual basis, to include all software licences, any bespoke development requirements, training needs, and support costs.
Ensure that you are specific and be realistic with timescales for each stage of the projects process – requirements analysis, software evaluation and selection, purchase, implementation. Give yourself enough time to do a thorough job but don’t leave it open ended – you might be surprised how quickly a well-planned project can be implemented these days.
Remember that depending on your circumstance the selection process can take just a few weeks through to several months, so it’s key to make sure that a realistic approach is taken to estimating the project teams’ time, as an indirect cost of the project.
If you require help understanding your businesses needs, the right solution implementation approach for your business, either as a SaaS or on-premise solution, or simply understanding which solution would be best for you business, please contact email@example.com
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