Are you at a point where your company’s growth has dictated that it’s time to take the next big step in improving your overall Information Technology platform? Enterprise Application Software (EAS) system implementations, such as ERP, CRM, EAM and SCM, are large investments of resources, time, and money. A successful EAS implementation can help your organization streamline workflow and cut costs, but a poorly planned and implemented EAS rollout can do great damage in terms of lost productivity and poor customer service.
The stage can be set for a successful implementation by following a Strategic Software Selection process that treats this challenge in a disciplined and methodical way. The graphic below is a representation of our approach to help you maximize the success of selecting the correct application for your business.
Software Selection Mistakes
Companies often take one of two totally disparate approaches to EAS selection. They will either take a very narrow and rushed approach that only looks at a few vendors that have somehow hit their radar screen, or they will go down the path of the hundreds or thousands of lines of requirements and send them to every vendor they can find. By taking a strategic approach focused on key requirements the selection process can be faster and more efficient for both the buyer and the software vendor. The table below highlights how our Strategic Software Selection process addresses the most common software selection pitfalls.
|Common Error||Impact to Process||Strategic Selection Remedy|
|Tactical focus on who you are today||Meets today’s needs but isn’t prepared for the future and doesn’t expand capabilities||Start by where you are going as a company. What is the five year strategic plan that the system needs to support.|
|Too many “must have” requirements||Time wasted evaluating the software over a broad scope. This allows the software vendor to dictate the narrative instead of your selection team.||Understanding what processes or services are unique to the business’s value proposition moves the discussion from many “must haves” to a few key decision drivers.|
|Don’t control the demo process||Software demos are very broad allowing vendors to focus on their strengths not your needs. You fall in love with the “bright shiny object”.||Insist the demos follow strict use cases that represent your strategic business needs.|
|Not clearly scoping the initial implementation phase||Implementation estimates will be low and followed by a series of change requests from the implementation vendor.||Once you are in final negotiations with the vendor have a joint scoping workshop to determine what will be included in the initial rollout of the software. Remember, you never get everything you wanted in the first phase.|
Strategic Software Selection Process
There are many factors to consider when evaluating EAS systems. Functional requirements are just the beginning. Decisions around deployment strategy and payment options often get intermingled and complicate the total cost of ownership analysis. Most EAS systems can be deployed both locally (on premise) or hosted by a third party. Often the EAS vendor will provide hosting options. Any hosting discussion should be part of an overall IT strategy.
With the proliferation of Software as a Service (SaaS) options becoming more common with EAS systems companies now need to not only decide how to deploy the software but how to pay for it. With the SaaS model you never own the software. You are paying an annual lease and if you quit paying you no longer have access to the software. From an accounting standpoint, the software costs move from a capitalized cost to a direct expense. Some companies, especially in the private equity world, discourage SaaS payment options. While most companies only offer SaaS in a hosted model, some companies have recently started offering a SaaS pricing model with an on premise.
Flow’s Strategic Software Selection process will guide you through these and many other decisions……
- Develop Business Requirements for ERP System
- Meet with process owners in key business areas: sales, operations, finance, etc.
- Identify top 3 to 5 critical requirements in each functional area
- Identify requirements that are critical to meeting business strategy as set by senior management
- Identify “Hard to Meet” requirements
- Not all requirements are equal. You may have some very important requirements that will be easily met by most vendors.
- Understanding the software market so that you are considering vendors that have the best chance of meeting your “Hard to Meet” requirements is critical
- Facilitate finalizing of the requirements and writing RFQ
- Work with Client team to generate details around “Hard to Meet” requirements
- Write RFQ
- Coordinate with vendors on Client behalf
- Contact Vendors
- Handle Initial Vendor Clarification Questions
- Schedule Demos
- Facilitate Demos
- Guide Client through the decision process
- Create Decision Matrix
- Lead Client team through the evaluation process
- Provide support in negotiating with the final vendor and selecting implementation support if needed.
- Develop high level implementation plan
- Clarify scope of initial rollout
- Clear roles and responsibilities between all parties: Client, software vendor, implementation vendor, etc.
- Initial high level project plan and resource estimates
Enterprise Application Software includes content, communication, and collaboration software; CRM software; digital and content creation software, ERP software; office suites; project and portfolio management; and SCM software.
Do You Need Help With EAS Strategic Software Selection?
Why not get in touch and see how Flow Consulting can help you with EAS Strategic Software Selection improvements.