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Tips for Making Enterprise Software Decisions

Date Added: March 02, 2012 06:07:27 PM
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Category: Business & Economy: Business Training

A decision to bring in enterprise software impacts all groups, departments and divisions of a company as well as staff at all levels. It is important to plan thoroughly and engage representatives from all areas of the company to reduce the risk of negative impact and increase the positive reception of the changes.

There are several actions that can help enterprise software decisions become successful business decisions.

Create a requirements list.

When looking at a software solution that will impact the entire company, create a requirements list using the input of representatives from around the company. Every group has their own procedures and operating standards. Different groups may perform the same activity in different ways (for instance, ordering supplies or reporting time). Create use cases to help understand the flow of information throughout the organization.

Often, the adoption of enterprise software solutions is a good time to do some business process re-engineering (BPR). Streamlining business process can make more sense than attempting to adapt outdated procedures to a new enterprise software model.

Prioritize the requirements list.

Once a comprehensive list is in hand, begin prioritizing the items. Typically, the people with input to the list will state that all of the items they included on the list must be done for their area to be successful. The reality is that items can be prioritized based on the company’s strategic direction or department goals.

Select the right vendors.

Look for vendors with a proven track record with the enterprise product. Discuss projects with them that were not successful to understand how they came to be that way. Visit, or at least speak with, other companies that have used the vendor. Determine the level of involvement of the vendor in any implementation project versus the impact on existing staff. And be wary of scenarios where the vendor plays one role and contracts out other roles (for instance, project management or implementation) to other vendors.

Insist on prototyping different functionality.

Enterprise software must fit the company, its people and processes. Day 1 of the “Go Live” event is a poor time to discover that a major portion of the system doesn’t fit the needs of the company. Define several milestones where processes can be evaluated against the software. While an expensive effort, parallel processing for a time will produce valuable data about the effectiveness and fit of the new system.

Plan. Execute. Evaluate. Repeat.

Implementation planning is one of the most important factors for success. While the majority of a project usually goes well, the few issues that come up require a well-crafted plan to work through them. Risk management, contingency planning and backup strategies are all critical pieces of the implementation planning to insure little to no negative financial impact on the business.

Measure the results.

Experience comes from doing. Learning comes from evaluating the impact of what was done. Take time to review how an enterprise software decision was made and implemented so that future decisions can benefit from the knowledge gained.

Making enterprise software decisions requires effort, planning and flexibility. The benefits can be key to moving a company forward.

 


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