5 Tips for Evaluating & Choosing the Best Software for your Business

As we speak with executives and managers at organizations that are challenged by growth or a changing business environment, we often find that they feel as if their business operations are out of control. They know there must be a better way to run their business and many believe that technology is the answer. But with hundreds if not thousands of technology solutions available, they can get overwhelmed as their search for the right one.

We have found that this selection process can be simplified by focusing on a few key areas:

  • Understanding your critical requirements.
  • Creating a targeted list of solutions.
  • Evaluating pros and cons for products AND partners.
  • Collaborating when determining the right solution.
  • Negotiating your contract prudently and thoughtfully.

Here are some comments that elaborate on the areas above:

  1. Critical Requirements Must Come First – Don’t get fascinated by at all the bells and whistles of a product. Understand what functionality is critical from day one of your implementation and put your focus there. Communicate often with your vendors so they understand why you need this functionality and how your organization’s processes impact the need for the solution. This will help serve as a crucial evaluation tool to see how well each vendor understands your needs and speaks to your requirements with regards to their offering.
  2. A Different Way to Check References – Go the extra mile when checking references provided by a vendor. Speak with the reference and ask if they know of other clients for that vendor, and have a conversation with them. The more clients you speak to, the better picture you will get of not only the vendor’s products but also their level of customer service for all their clients, not just their best clients.
  3. Don’t Overthink It – Since software selection is such an important process, the tendency is to overanalyze the products and the process. But this can cause delays in product selection and deployment, which in turns could cause your evaluation to become outdated. Create a realistic project timeline so you maintain momentum and make your selection in a timely manner.
  4. Pick Your Evaluation Team Carefully – Choosing a new ERP system should be viewed as a business decision, not an IT decision. IT should certainly have input from an architecture and technology perspective but that is only part of the evaluation. The evaluation team must make certain that the product fulfills the critical business elements that are needed for the organization’s success. In addition, a team leader should be chosen to bring all the key departments together and define roles for each member of the team.
  5. Negotiating the Right Way – Once you have found the solution for your organization, you should outline what your goals are for the negotiation. Rather than trying to save a few dollars and risk hard feelings, look at the vendor as a partner in your success. Tell them you are looking for them to be your trusted advisor for many years to come. The negotiations are the first step in your relationship with the vendor, so make it a great experience for both organizations.

Investing Time & Money Pays Off

Selecting business software is a challenging, time-consuming process. But it is also one of the most critical decisions your organization will make. Take the time to get organized, perform your due diligence, collaborate often with your project team and develop a strong working relationship with your vendor. If you do these things, your investment in time and money will be very worthwhile and you will avoid many of the pitfalls that other organizations have run into.

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