The most important criteria for selecting the right IT solution is to know what you want. Being clear on the definition of your business needs will ensure that you take a practical view on splitting the ‘must-haves’ from the ‘nice-to-haves’, save money and implement a solution that will increase business efficiency.
To make the right decision with regard to software solutions, you need to keep up with change: changes in business requirements, regulations, consumer demands and technologies. Change is happening all around us every minute of the day in a quest to solve technological challenges and to make life easier and more affordable.
As change is constant, companies need to prepare themselves to take the steps necessary for them to be in line with regulations and customer requirements. A big consideration is cost, and knowing what is needed and what is simply wanted.
With every new decision taken in a company, the question “why are we doing this?” needs to be answered. If the answer is not justifiable, it is unnecessary.
Should your company have the finances available for nice-to-haves, it will then be easier to make these kinds of decisions. However, in light of the current economic climate, it is important for companies to spend money on things that will ensure a positive ROI and that contribute towards overall business goals. This is key in keeping within budget constraints and delivery timelines.
Business owners need to clearly define the end business goal for the implementation of a new IT solution. Keep “why are we doing this?” in focus throughout the selection-process lifecycle.
Do your Research
Delve into the software vendors’ references. Be wary; although the ‘cheapest is not the best’, the same can be applied to ‘market leaders’ not necessarily being the right solution for your business needs. Vendors change according to clients’ needs and demands, but make sure that the vendor’s track record shows that the company adapts well to changing circumstances, keeps up with industry developments, and that it helps its clients to move forward, comply with regulations, and retain competitiveness.
As stressed previously, don’t just listen to the success stories. Invest the time and effort to go on site and speak to existing clients. Ask the tough questions:
- How long have they been a client?
- Was the IT implementation delivered on time and within budget?
- How has the software been applied in the business?
- Is there strong after-go-live support available?
- Would the client use the vendor again?
This is the only to gain a proper perspective of successes and challenges that you can expect when dealing with a vendor.
Further, owing to constant changes in IT, you need to ensure that the software solution you implement is also adaptable to change. Spending a large sum of money on a solution which you will need to replace within a few years, is not a smart business decision. Rather opt for solutions that can grow with your company and be configured to meet changing demands.
A vendor’s software solutions should support current business rules without the need for major customisation and development. Ensure that the software can be easily and cost-effectively adapted to meet changes in processes, additional business services, and legislation.
Confirm that the software can integrate into other applications or components internally in your organisation – and with your clients and partners. Ensure globally accepted standards are utilised for integration, as bespoke software can add additional costs when the time comes to integrate it with other systems.
Test the solution during the demonstration phases. Don’t be wowed by the sexy presentations and slick-looking user interfaces. Just because a WMS provider is No. 1 in WMS for Retailers, may be irrelevant if you are a 3PL WMS provider.
Ensure the product is the right fit for your business. Get the vendor to run your business processes through the application, in as much detail as possible. This is the only method to ensure you don’t end up with unexpected, huge development costs later in the process. If the software vendor says they can meet a business need, allow them to show you practically how to do this.
In meeting the end business goal, ensure that the vendor and software you select to implement will be an enabler to reduce operating costs, improve efficiencies, and to aid in growing new revenue streams.
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