Software Evaluation, Selection & Implementation – Part II

In the first installment on this topic, I talked about the Technology Life Cycle and why it’s important to know where the solutions that you are considering are in the life cycle.   I also talked about the pros and cons of open source software.    Now I want to change gears a little and talk about some of the key criteria that you should be thinking about when evaluating and selecting software.

 3.  Key Software Selection Concepts

 According to Community IT Innovators (www.citidc.com), there are nine key concepts to keep in mind when evaluating software: 

  1. No perfect solution exists
  2. With due diligence, you can find good solutions
  3. The evaluation process is as important as the solution
  4. What really matters is people
  5. The inability to perform is far more expensive than the software
  6. More expensive is not necessarily better
  7. Cheaper is not necessarily more cost-effective
  8. Information management is an on-going process
  9. Always keep TCO in mind

I believe that there are two items on their list that are particularly noteworthy.   The first is number one, “No perfect solution exists”.    Every software application has pros and cons and no matter how long you look, you’ll never find the perfect solution.    The key to success, therefore, is not to worry about finding the perfect solution.  Instead, find a good solution that has a clear roadmap for at least the next five years and then make sure that you get the training and implementation support you need to get the most from what you have.   A good example of an ERP solution with a clear roadmap is Microsoft Dynamics GP.    Please feel free to contact me if you would like a copy of that roadmap.

The second item is number four, “What really matters is people”.   With the right people and the right training, you can make any software solution hum. With the wrong people, though, you’ll never maximize the potential of your software and no amount of training will change that.   In other words, make sure that you have your best people involved in the implementation and that you have a good implementation partner that understands your industry and truly cares about your success.

4.  Top Criteria for Selecting Software

Several years ago, Deloitte & Touche surveyed businesses to find out what criteria they used to select new accounting software.  In doing so, they found that the criteria for first time buyers were quite different from those of second time buyers.     For first time buyers, the #1 criteria was the “Price of Software”. The “Level of Support Provided by the Local Firm” was ranked number eight out of ten.   Second time buyers had a much different perspective on what is important.   They ranked the “Level of Support Provided by the Local Firm” as their #1 criteria and the “Price of Software” dropped to number five on their list.   Clearly, finding a good local implementation partner is critical to your success even if it costs a little more to have that.

To be Continued…..

 Maner Costerisan, a Michigan-based CPA firm and Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, specializes in helping Not-for-Profits improve operations and support their mission through accounting, CRM and productivity software solutions.     For more information on how we can help you excel in these challenging economic

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ERP professionals providing insight and advice for not for profit organizations.